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Peter Grossman
People

From Playwright, to Journalist, to Professor, Peter Grossman closes Butler Chapter After 25 Years

BY Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 26 2019

Butler University Business Professor Peter Z. Grossman thinks of his life as "an unstructured research project."

Grossman, who is retiring from Butler after 25 years as the Clarence Efroymson Chair/Professor of Economics, has been, at various times, an actor/playwright, a journalist, and, of course, a professor. He has taught courses as varied as music appreciation, philosophy, and economics,  and written books about topics that include energy policy, the history of the American Express company, law and economics principles, and a history of the major blackouts of the Northeast.

A student once asked him, "How do I get into the kinds of things you have done?" To which Grossman responded: "I have no idea, because almost all of it was serendipitous."

"Peter is a lifelong learner," says Butler Professor of Economics Bill Rieber, his friend and colleague. "As an example, Peter has offered many different courses in Economics since being at Butler, including Mathematical Economics. When Peter first offered the course, he was already a full professor and a well-established scholar, teacher, and commentator in the media. It had been a while, though, since Peter had gone through the mathematics necessary to offer the course, yet he spent the time and effort to do so."

David Phillips '07 took that very course with Grossman as an independent study, and also studied International Economics and Comparative Economics with him. For the independent study, Grossman would give Phillips a set of problems to work out, then they'd get together to work through them on a whiteboard in the Holcomb Building.

"I'm a professor now, so I probably appreciate better than I did then how generous it was of him to offer to do an independent study with me," Phillips, who's a Research Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame, wrote in an email. "It's a lot of a work, and I'm sure he didn't get any credit or recognition for it!"

Phillips added that when he went to graduate school, he needed to know how to combine economic intuition and heavy duty mathematics. Having the one-on-one opportunity with Grossman helped greatly.

The independent study also allowed them to get to know each other personally, and that’s where Phillips got a taste of Grossman's understated, self-deprecating humor.

One story Grossman told was how during his dissertation defense at Washington University in St. Louis, one of his professors asked a relatively easy question. Grossman froze, couldn't come up with an answer, but his main advisor, future Nobel Prize winner Douglass North, chimed in.

"Peter, I don’t understand your problem.  I asked you that same question last week in my office and you gave me a good answer,” North said.

Grossman's response: "Really? What did I say?”

When his answer was recited back to him, he said, “Oh yes, that’s a good answer.”

"His sharing those experiences with me was incredibly valuable," Phillips says. "A Ph.D. in economics is very different from undergraduate economics, and American students from small schools often struggle to wade through the technical material of the first couple years. Picking an advisor is an intimidating thing. Both the time I spent with him working out problems on the whiteboard and the time hearing about his own experience in graduate school helped me a lot as I became an economist."

 

*

Grossman grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut, the child of a textile worker dad from Hungary (who gave him the middle name Zigmund) and a piano-teacher mom, both of whom insisted that their sons get an education. They wanted their children to become doctors or lawyers, but in high school, Peter gravitated toward theater.

There was no drama club at any of the high schools in town, so he started a citywide drama group. He performed at the Waterbury Civic Theatre, did summer stock in Cape Cod, and generally thought of himself as an actor.

When he got to Columbia University, he transitioned to playwriting. He wrote plays that were performed in New York, including at the Public Theater, and studied philosophy, then earned a Shubert Fellowship to study playwriting at Columbia's School of the Arts.

After earning his Master of Fine Arts in 1972, Grossman was working a nominal job at Columbia, hoping to become a writer,when he bumped into a former classmate who told him about a trade magazine looking for writers. Grossman pursued the lead and ended up writing about fast food and kitchen design.

"Writing about food always made me hungry," he says. "But I was getting experience. I was learning how to write. I never took a journalism course, but I knew I had to be self-critical in order to be able to write something I would want to read. Essentially, I was teaching myself journalism."

A few years later—around the same time he met his future wife, Polly Spiegel—one of his brothers invited him to a party where he was introduced to someone who called the publisher of Financial World on his behalf. The editor gave him a tryout, assigning him a story about the commodities market.

"I had no idea what I was talking about, but I wrote it pretty well," he says.

It earned him $500 and the chance to write more. It also led him, a year later, to his first teaching job—as an Assistant Professor of Humanities at Polytechnic Institute of New York (Brooklyn Polytechnic)—and his first salaried position, primarily to teach journalism.

 

*

His first class, an Intro to Literature and Writing course, was a disaster.

"I came into the classroom the first day and was going to talk about Beowulf and the origins of the English language but I quickly saw that nearly everybody in the class was a non-native speaker," he says. “And whatever I had planned to say only confused them.”

At the same time, he was getting more assignments from Financial World, and from Money magazine. At Financial World, he became the commodities expert, and he also wrote about that topic for Money.

One day, he got a call from an analyst at a brokerage house who wanted an independent view of where interest rates were going. Grossman had no idea. He'd never taken an economics course. He needed to learn, so he signed up to take a second-level macroeconomics course at Pace University. At the same time, he got his first major book contract—to write a history of the American Express company.

He had unrestricted access to the company's archives and found that he loved doing the research. American Express: The People Who Built the Great Financial Empire came out in 1987.

By this point, he was married, and he and Polly had the first of their two sons. He also found out that he wasn't getting tenure at Brooklyn Polytechnic because they were thinking of eliminating the journalism program.

But the school got a grant to create a Science, Technology, and Society (STS) program, and Grossman was teamed with an electrical engineer, Ned Cassedy, whom he'd known since the late 1970s.Together, Grossman and Cassedy wrote Introduction to Energy: Resources, Technology and Society, which became the textbook for the STS curriculum.

While he was teaching, Grossman also started taking classes in City University of New York's Ph.D. program in Economics. He decided to go back to school full time in 1988, and ended up at Washington University in St. Louis, where his mentor would be Douglass North.

"That was the best decision I ever made, and I made it very stupidly," Grossman says. "I knew about his work, but some of these senior professors are horrible to work under. Doug North took the attitude that (as I was already 40) I needed to get in, get out, and get into the world and use my new-found skills in economics along with my writing and research skills as quickly as possible."

 

*

Grossman finished in three and a half years, but had trouble finding a job. It took him three years. Then, at once, he had two opportunities—one at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the other at Butler.

"I was a visiting assistant professor at Washington University, two years past my Ph.D., and I kept looking at this ad for an endowed chair at Butler," he says. "It said someone with an affinity for the liberal arts, the fields they listed were my fields, and I had my three books and I'd just published a couple of scholarly papers. I said, 'What do I have to lose?'"

He sent a package—"and it did help that I had a Nobel Laureate as one of my recommenders"—thinking that nothing would happen. Shortly after, Bill Rieber called. Grossman started talking about himself and mentioned his theater background, and Rieber said, "Why didn't you put that on your CV?" Grossman responded, "My CV was confusing enough to people."

But Butler was interested and brought him in for an interview.

"It was a beautiful spring day in 1994, I loved the campus—which has only gotten better since I've been here—and I gave a presentation," he says.

Before that presentation, he came face to face with a senior professor who knew and revered Clarence Efroymson—the professor for whom the Chair in Economics is named—and he didn't want the position going to someone who was "a moron." His definition of "moron" was people who weren't reading things other than books in their disciplines.

The most recent book Grossman had read was On the Origins of Species by Charles Darwin, which established that he wasn't a moron.

Then the professor asked: What are your fields?

“Economic history and law and economics,” Grossman said.

The professor asked: Isn't law and economics kind of a b.s. area?

"At that point, I thought, 'Maybe you should just drive me back to the airport,'" Grossman says. "Actually, what he wanted was for me to defend myself, which I did."

Butler offered him the position. Then Illinois also called, offering a tenure-track position.

"As I've thought about it over the years," Grossman says, "I made absolutely the right decision. I was much better placed here just because of who I am and the work I do. I follow that unstructured research plan. I start writing and studying things that interest me. At Illinois I would have been put in a box and all my teaching and research would have had to fit that box. Here I’ve been free."

 

*

At Butler, he wrote four more books, and made use of his journalism background by publishing 140-plus op-ed columns, which gave additional visibility to the University.

Over the years, he taught 14 different courses—several he created, some he revived, all for undergraduates.

"It's been great—the kind of thing I like to do, which is exploring new ideas in different areas," he says. "I never would have been able to do that in Illinois—even if I'd gotten tenure."

And now, going into retirement after 25 years at Butler, Grossman says he's unsure what's next. He's likely to continue writing, he says, but in a life that's been an "unstructured research project," you never know.

"The research will go on," he says, "even though I will no longer be at Butler."

Peter Grossman
People

From Playwright, to Journalist, to Professor, Peter Grossman closes Butler Chapter After 25 Years

Butler University Business Professor Peter Z. Grossman thinks of his life as "an unstructured research project."

Apr 26 2019 Read more
Graduates in Hinkle Fieldhouse at Commencement
Academics

Butler to Hold Historic 163rd Spring Commencement

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Apr 26 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—History will be made when Butler University celebrates its 163rd Spring Commencement.

Nearly 1,050 graduates are expected to receive their diplomas—the largest graduating class in Butler’s history—on Saturday, May 11, at 10:00 AM at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

The keynote Commencement speaker, selected by graduating students, will be Penny Dimmick, Professor of Music. An Honorary Doctor of Education will be given to Ena Shelley, longtime Dean of the College of Education, and an Honorary Doctor of Music will be given to the jazz musician Benny Golson.

Dimmick is the Associate Director of the School of Music, and Coordinator of Butler’s Music Education program. She joined the Butler community in 1991 and has served the University in several different capacities, including Head of the School of Music and Faculty in Residence. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate students at Butler, Dimmick works with children in the Indianapolis Children’s Choir’s Preparatory Choirs, at summer camps at Sunnyside Road Baptist Church, and on mission trips to South America and Asia.

Shelley joined the Butler faculty as an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education in 1982. After serving as Interim Dean twice, she was appointed Dean in June 2005. She introduced the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, created two IPS/Butler Lab Schools, and established a new home for the COE on South Campus.

Golson started his jazz career about 65 years ago and has traveled the world, playing with renowned performers including Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey, and Johnny Hodges. He has written well over 300 compositions and recorded more than 30 albums. He has composed and arranged music for legends such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, and Itzhak Perlman. Golson served as a guest artist on campus last spring and immediately connected with Butler students.  

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
317-940-9257 (mobile: 914-815-5656)

Graduates in Hinkle Fieldhouse at Commencement
Academics

Butler to Hold Historic 163rd Spring Commencement

History will be made when Butler University celebrates its 163rd Spring Commencement.

Apr 26 2019 Read more
The Thomas Taggart Memorial
Arts & Culture

$9.24 Million Grant Brings Indianapolis Park Back to Life through Shakespeare

BY Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 24 2019

The Thomas Taggart Memorial in Indianapolis' Riverside Park must have been magnificent when it was dedicated in 1931: majestic columns and arches, a curved fountain in front, balustrades lining the monument to the Indianapolis mayor who had created the city’s park system 34 years earlier.

But in 2019, after decades of neglect, it's a mess: cracking concrete, weeds and trees bursting through the mortar, balustrades collapsing on both sides.

That’s about to change.

In December, the Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded $9.24 million to a coalition of the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, Indiana Landmarks, the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company, and Indy Parks to restore the memorial. In summer 2020, the memorial will become the permanent home of the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company—also known as Indy Shakes—run by Butler University Theatre Department Chair Diane Timmerman.

“This is a really great moment in history for the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company,” she says, “because we are deepening and expanding our mission in ways that I don’t believe we fully understood when we wrote our mission statement—which is to share the joy of live theater in ways that appeal to diverse audiences.”

Diane Timmerman at the Taggart Memorial Timmerman says it's also great for Butler Theatre and its students, who will have access to internships and performance opportunities with a professional, growing theater company. Butler Theatre has always had its sights set on transforming the landscape of theater, she says, and its students will be the artists who make the theater of tomorrow.

"When I was first asked to be Artistic Director of Indy Shakes, my first thought was that I would take the job because it would be great for my Butler Theatre students," Timmerman says. "It's been vital for me and other members of the theatre faculty and staff to be professionally connected in Indianapolis so that we can work in our own way to support and improve the arts landscape of Indy. Contributing to theater in Indy is never just about our own professional development, but is always tied to our students and their development as artists."

 

*

Indy Shakes needed a new home. The company had been performing for several years at White River State Park, but between increasing competition from concerts at The Lawn next door, and the sun blinding patrons as it set, the time was right to move.

For a couple of years, Timmerman visited “nearly every green space or big concrete space or any space that would remotely work,” including many of the more than 200 locations in the Indy Parks system. She was looking for an amphitheater setup with sightlines that would work and space to build.

Then in January 2018, the Lilly Endowment announced Strengthening Indianapolis Through Arts and Cultural Initiatives, a program that offered $25 million to organizations working together to better Indianapolis.

At the time, Indy Parks had just completed a master plan for Riverside Park on the city’s near-westside that called for bringing arts programming to the park. Timmerman reached out to  Butler graduate Marsh Davis '80, the head of Indiana Landmarks, the organization that preserves historic places in Indiana, about converting the Taggart Memorial to an amphitheater.

Davis was behind the idea immediately.

"Indiana Landmarks has worked for over a decade to find a sustainable use for the Taggart Memorial, something that would make it relevant to the community," he says. "We were working on a proposal to the Lilly Endowment to repurpose the memorial when Diane contacted me with her idea. It was brilliant, and thanks to the Lilly Endowment, it will be realized. The Taggart Memorial will be restored and serve a meaningful purpose in the Riverside neighborhood."

Timmerman says what she saw from Davis is what she sees in other Butler people: a desire to give back to the community.

 

*

Representatives from Indy Shakes, Indiana Landmarks, Indy Parks, and Indianapolis Parks Foundation are now meeting every other week with Ratio Architects, and others, to discuss construction, repairs, design, sound, lighting, and other considerations.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” Timmerman says. “With its majestic backdrop, it’s so Shakespearean. It couldn’t be a better location. It’s perfect for Shakespeare.”

Last summer, Indy Shakes launched a traveling troupe, and did a one-hour version of Macbeth in a number of city parks, community centers, and libraries. This spring and summer, Indy Shakes will have two traveling troupes that will perform a 30-minute version of Much Ado About Nothing for elementary school-aged audiences, as well as a one-hour As You Like It for middle schools and high schools.

In addition, the company will perform Hamlet July 25-27 and August 1-3 on a temporary stage in Riverside Park.

 

*

The inscription on the Taggart Memorial reads:

 

To Thomas Taggart
Lover of mankind
whose foresight made
possible this park

 

Timmerman says the revitalization of his memorial will serve, “a very established, vibrant neighborhood that has a lot of other things going on,” for decades to come.

“And now it’s up to us,” she says, “to figure out how we fit into the fabric of the Riverside neighborhood and how we can connect with people in ways that support what is already there arts-wise and add to it.”

The Thomas Taggart Memorial
Arts & Culture

$9.24 Million Grant Brings Indianapolis Park Back to Life through Shakespeare

In summer 2020, the memorial will become the permanent home of the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company.

Apr 24 2019 Read more
Community

The CUE Gets a Makeover; Adds an ‘S’ to Promote Sustainability, Put Work Into Action

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Apr 18 2019

INDIANAPOLIS--The Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University started 15 years ago. It was the brainchild of three biology faculty members who were all engaged in urban ecology research. They wanted to get undergrads involved in research, too, so decided to start a center as a way to get students more engaged.

But, as time marched on, the center grew. A farm was established. Last year, 10,000 pounds of produce were grown. And the center is now involved in six research projects across campus.

A major question remained, though—how could the center make even more of an impact?

CUES statsTo address exactly that, the CUE has added a letter—S. Now, 15 years later, the center will be called the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability, or CUES. The goals are twofold: use the work the center is already doing—studying urban ecosystems—to solve sustainability challenges, while also serving as the central hub to bring all the sustainability-centered projects happening around campus together.

“There is so much important work already taking place around Butler, from rain gardens, to infrastructure improvements, to LEED gold buildings. We want to leverage all of that work to educate students,” says Julia Angstmann, Director of CUES. “At the same time, we want to use our research findings to inform how to solve sustainability challenges the entire world is facing.”

For example, Angstmann explains, the center is involved in the Indy Wildlife Watch research project. The project monitors wildlife around the city in an effort to study how increased populations in cities impact these organisms.

Instead of just doing the research for science’s sake, Angstmann explains, the goal now is to use the findings to solve existing sustainability challenges.

“We plan on engaging in conversations with city planners, for example, and explaining to them that our research from the Indy Wildlife Watch project showed we should manage green spaces in a certain way, so both humans and wildlife can benefit,” Angstmann says. “We now want to use our research to solve sustainability challenges.”

In addition to research projects, the center will continue to focus on the farm and sustainability projects. The main shift, though, will be incorporating sustainability into all three areas. To help with that effort, CUES has hired a new Assistant Director of Sustainability, Jamie Valentine.

Valentine says she plans on continuing with existing sustainability projects, such as recycle-mania, permeable pavement on campus, and growing native plants. She wants to bring action steps to Butler’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050.

She is also excited to get the wider campus community more involved with sustainability.

“When we talk about sustainability, we are talking about the interaction of people, the planet, and profit,” Valentine says. “We are looking at the system in which we all live, and the way real world problems are all interconnected. We cannot just look at one side of a problem or issue, fix one thing, put it back into the system in which we all live, and expect it to be solved. To have a truly sustainable system that will work for everyone for the long term, we need to look at all connections and relationships, and work on fixing them all.”

To do that, Valentine hopes to get the wider campus more involved. One idea she plans on implementing is a Sustainability Green Office Program for staff and faculty to help incorporate new sustainability initiatives into offices and classrooms around Butler’s campus.

Sustainability will also be incorporated into more internships and research projects—staying true to the original reason the center was started 15 years ago.

Jake Gerard ‘20 is one of those students. The biology major has been involved in CUES for two years. After an internship over the summer at a wildlife center in Ohio, Gerard became increasingly fascinated by that type of work. He returned to Butler wanting to get more involved in wildlife research.

“I knew I wanted to do research, but I didn’t want to be in a lab all day,” he says. “I wanted to be outside, in the field.”

So, Gerard got involved in the Butler Wildlife Watch project. He sets up cameras around campus, then goes through the footage to determine what types of wildlife are here, and what effects those species will have on campus.

At first, Gerard wanted to get involved in research to boost his resume in hopes of getting into vet school. But now, especially with the sustainability focus, he sees how important the work is to making actual change. The results of the research he is doing, he says, could lead to conversations with administrators about green space on campus.

“Working with the center changed my entire point of view on vet care,” he says. “I realized it is not just private practice with dogs and cats, but there are research aspects to it. Yes, what we do in a clinic is important, but a lot of that is reactionary. Research is so important in a preventative way to make the job easier in the long run because it can lead to actual change beforehand, so you won’t have to deal with those real time issues in the end.”

Community

The CUE Gets a Makeover; Adds an ‘S’ to Promote Sustainability, Put Work Into Action

The center will be called the Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability, or CUES.

Apr 18 2019 Read more
AcademicsResearch

Combating Counterfeit Meds: Butler Prof Navigates the dotcom World of Prescriptions

BY Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 17 2019

Before you buy medication from an online pharmacy, you may want to think twice.

And after listening to Butler University Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice John Hertig, who studies the impact of counterfeit online drug distribution worldwide, rattle off the numbers, you may want to avoid medication sold on the world wide web all together.

62% of medicines purchased online are fake or substandard."At any one time, there are between 35,000 and 45,000 illegal online pharmacies operating worldwide," he says. "The issue with those illegal online pharmacies, in addition to not operating under the laws and regulations of the United States, is that about 50 percent of them sell counterfeit medications. So in addition to just being the criminals who now have your credit card data and home address, about half the time they're going to ship you counterfeit product."

Hertig is a board member of the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP), whose mission is to protect patient safety. His research looks at why patients are going online ("No surprise, it's because of cost, but it's also because it's an ecommerce world, and people are not aware of the risks"), and whether pharmacists, nurses, and physicians adequately educate their patients about the risks.

The dangers, Hertig says, are the possibility of getting either a substandard or falsified drug. Substandard could be counterfeit, meaning it might not have any of the active ingredient in it—it could be sugar pills—or there might not be enough, or too much, of the active ingredient. Sometimes, counterfeiters might cut 100 real pills into 1,000 pills by diluting them with sugar, brick dust, antifreeze, or chalk.

Falsified drugs are real, but they haven't been labelled, stored, or handled appropriately.

Hertig says there are ways to tell if an online pharmacy is legitimate. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) owns the ".pharmacy" top-level domain, and there's no way to obtain a dot-pharmacy web address without going through the association.

"If you go to cvs.pharmacy, you're good," he says. "If you go to walgreens.pharmacy, you're good. If you go to bestdrugsever.com, even though the website might look legitimate, you need to second-guess that."

The ASOP and NABP are both heavily involved in consumer education (more information is available at BuySafeRx.pharmacy), as is Hertig in conjunction with the Indiana Coalition for Patient Safety, and a network of hospitals. They've developed toolkits and are working to determine how much doctors, nurses, and pharmacists know about online pharmacies.

This summer, Hertig will be working on a Butler Summer Institute project with Kyla Maloney '22, a Pharmacy student whose research will summarize the possible link between illegal online pharmacies and patient harm worldwide. She plans to do a comprehensive review of the available literature regarding this kind of patient harm and unearth data that can be used for patients and providers to make better-informed healthcare decisions.

Maloney says that during an introductory pharmacy class, she was exposed to the world of online pharmacies and the massive issue surrounding adulterated drugs from these sites.

"The impact these pharmacies have on the economy, health system, and patient well-being were quite intriguing to me," she says. "Pharmacists have a professional responsibility to deliver exceptional care for our patients; in many cases, the ease and convenience of online pharmaceuticals may aid in that mission ... I am hoping this literature review will allow me to help make the world of pharmacy just a bit safer for my future patients."

AcademicsResearch

Combating Counterfeit Meds: Butler Prof Navigates the dotcom World of Prescriptions

Before you buy medication from an online pharmacy, you may want to think twice.  

Apr 17 2019 Read more
Arts & Culture

Amid Streamers—and a Bang—Clowes Marks Millionth Matinee Visitor

BY Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 16 2019

 

The second- and third-graders from Walnut Elementary School in New Ross, Indiana, had no idea when they got on the bus this morning that April 16 was their lucky day.

As they filed into Clowes Memorial Hall on Butler University’s campus and assembled for a photo in the lobby, they heard a loud bang. Blue and white streamers rained down, and they got the news: They were the millionth visitors to the Clowes Education Matinee series.

"This is amazing for our students," says Karen Monts, the school's librarian, who coordinated the 40-mile trip. "We are from a very small school in a low socioeconomic community, and for many of these kids, it’s a big treat to go to Crawfordsville, Indiana. So coming to Indianapolis is something they almost never do as a family, and coming here, and being honored like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them."

Over 27 years and 858 performances, the Clowes Education Matinee Series has provided students in kindergarten through 12th grade the opportunity to see live theater—many for the first time. That could mean anything from daytime performances by Butler groups such as the Butler Ballet, the Percussion Ensemble, and the Jazz Ensemble, to national touring productions featuring favorite children's stories like the Junie B. Jones books, The Magic School Bus, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar, coming to life onstage.

The students from Walnut Elementary School—who won prizes including a free visit to a Clowes matinee next year—were among the approximately 3,800 students from 31 schools who attended the two Tuesday morning performances of Junie B. Jones.

“Being able to bring them to Junie B. and  seeing something they read come to life like this is a great way to help their reading come along,” Monts says. “Maybe they'll move on to the next reading adventure seeing that it really does impact their lives."

The Clowes Education Matinee series started in 1991, when Tom McTamney was Executive Director of Clowes Hall. McTamney, who was one of three former Clowes directors on hand when the millionth visitors walked through the door (Elise Kushigian and Ty Sutton were the others), remembers receiving from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, an invitation to create a matinee program for schoolchildren modeled after the successful program at the Kennedy Center.

"We were looking for something to set us apart in the region," McTamney says. "We didn't have any kind of an education program here, and we sat on a college campus. It made no sense to me."

He teamed up with Indianapolis Public Schools, they wrote a grant, and Clowes was selected as one of the original 12 arts centers to participate in the program.

Seeing the millionth student walk through the door was incredibly gratifying, McTamney says.

Donna Rund, who has been Clowes Hall's Education Manager for nearly 20 years, is equally delighted with the success of the long-running program.

"Little did I know 20 years ago when I left teaching to become a program director that we would get to this amazing pinnacle," she says. "And we get to keep going. We get to keep doing this. I've already planned next year's season. We going to have a few more shows than we had this season, and I'm glad to have the support of Aaron Hurt, our executive director. He feels so strongly about giving students opportunities to see live theater—especially those who have not had this experience before."

Arts & Culture

Amid Streamers—and a Bang—Clowes Marks Millionth Matinee Visitor

The Clowes Education Matinee Series has provided students, K–12th grade, the opportunity to see live theater.

Apr 16 2019 Read more
AcademicsResearch

Young Researchers Flock to Butler for Undergraduate Research Conference

BY Marc D. Allan MFA ’18

PUBLISHED ON Apr 12 2019

Women enroll at Utah Valley University (UVU) at higher rates than the national average. They also drop out at higher rates than the national average.

Since January, UVU undergraduate students Alyssa Jensen, Elizabeht Hansen, Alexis Stallings, and Wendy Covington have been exploring why. They want to know what women are experiencing on campus, and figure out what the school can do to reverse the trend.

On Friday, April 12, they came to Indianapolis from Orem, Utah, to present their preliminary findings at Butler University's 31st Undergraduate Research Conference (URC). The UVU contingent—four students and two faculty sponsors—were among the more than 100 people who came from out of state to present at the conference.

"We wanted to gain some experience as undergrad researchers to present, and Butler seemed like an ideal situation to portray our research, and express our ideas in a setting where people may not be familiar with the research that we're doing," UVU student Alyssa Jensen says.

URC participants came from as far as California and Florida, New York and Colorado. Though the majority of the presenters were from Indiana—and 356 of the 824 were Butler students—23 states were represented.

The UVU project came about when Dr. Stevie Munz, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, and Assistant Professor of Communication Dr. Jessica Pauly received a grant from the university to study women's experiences on campus. Once they assembled the research team, they started looking for undergraduate research conferences where the students could present.

"This conference is one that's really well respected, so we said, 'Let's go. Let's present this,'" Munz says. "So that's what brought us all the way from Utah to Indiana. Actually, there aren't that many undergraduate research conferences that service all the disciplines, so it was a nice fit for us because our project does cross quite a few intersections of education, identity, religion, family life, home life. So we thought we'd be a really good fit for this conference."

Colorado College student Naomi Tsai came to the URC from Colorado Springs. Her research came from a much greater distance—the Red Sea. She studied coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba to determine why they are better able than coral reefs elsewhere to withstand rising temperatures.

She decided to undertake a thesis as part of her degree, and that requires presenting at a conference. She researched conferences, and found the URC.

"I feel like it's a very supportive group of people," she said after her 15-minute presentation in Gallahue Hall. "I don't think I've ever presented in a format like this, and it's really nice to be surrounded mostly by your peers and people who are interested in your research."

Dr. J.C. Blewitt, an Assistant Professor of Management in the School of Business at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was in the audience when one of his students, Rebecca Kinzinger, presented her research showing that millennials going to work at accounting firms want their employers to be active in promoting social entrepreneurship. That is, part of the companies' mission should be to use their professional skills to make a large-scale difference in the world.

Blewitt says it's vital for students planning to go to graduate school to get experience presenting their research at conferences.

"I think a lot of times research conferences can be terrifying," he says. "This conference is a wonderful stepping stone for students to get some exposure, and feel confident, and get some constructive but overall pretty positive feedback from other students and faculty."

Blewitt brought one student to the URC in 2018 and found it "so well run" that he brought two students this year.

"And next year," he says, "maybe three."

AcademicsResearch

Young Researchers Flock to Butler for Undergraduate Research Conference

URC participants came from as far as California and Florida, New York and Colorado.

Apr 12 2019 Read more
AcademicsResearch

Advancing the Field: Highlights of the 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Apr 11 2019

Lillian Southern ‘19 was 12 when her brother, Jack, was born with mitochondrial disease. He couldn’t walk, talk, sit up, and later, lost the ability to eat on his own.

Southern quickly became interested in helping him. She was intrigued by the therapy he received. When Jack died in 2012 at the age of 4, Southern decided she wanted to spend her life helping children just like him.

And now, her first research paper might do just that. Inspired by Jack, Southern spent the last year-and-a-half exploring how hearing impairment, as well as disability, in babies impacts interactions between parents and children. The paper, Parent Interaction Between an Infant with a Cochlear Implant and Additional Disabilities: How Interaction is Affected Due to Stress and Difficulty of Communication, was one of four winners in the Competitive Paper division of the Undergraduate Research Conference.

The URC, which takes place for the 31st time April 12 at Butler University, added a Competitive Paper division two years ago to give students experience submitting papers to outside faculty reviewers—the same process, essentially, that happens when professors, for example, submit a paper to a journal in hopes of publishing their research. That panel of reviewers then picked four winning papers from 36 entries. Southern was one of the winners.

In the fall, the Communication Sciences and Disorders major and Special Education minor, will attend graduate school at Indiana University to study Speech Pathology. But in the meantime, she hopes her first research project will help advance the field.

“Research is like an exciting mystery, where you go from having these questions, to actually having an answer,” she says. “But the most powerful thing is, especially in my field, all therapy practices that help kids are based on research people have done. Without having access to questions and answers, you cannot move forward and discover new ways to help people.”

As Southern’s research progressed, the answers did not line up with what she originally thought. She hypothesized that the addition of a disability to a child with hearing impairment would have a major impact on parent-child interactions. She assumed there would be cascading effects of stress, for example. However, the results showed that the addition of a disability didn’t affect interactions as much as other environmental factors, such as education and financial resources.

Tonya Bergeson-Dana, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Butler, worked with Southern on the project. Bergeson-Dana, who has published on this topic before, says Southern’s findings can help get these families the appropriate resources they need to develop child language.

This relevancy was what struck Tracey Quigley Holden, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Delaware. Quigley Holden was one of 13 faculty reviewers who looked at the 36 papers that were submitted to the URC’s competitive paper division. Four were selected as winners by the reviewers.

If she’s honest, Quigley Holden wasn’t all that excited to be asked at first. She loves research, but the process of reviewing papers is extremely time consuming. Then she jumped in and was elated.

“These students were really doing work that was innovative and pushing the envelope,” she says. “They were taking on topics that we wouldn’t have touched when I was an undergrad. There was such a range of topics, from race, to class, to politics, there was such a wide range. Students were looking at some of the topics that we are most challenged by in public discourse and society today, not just the confines of academia.”

Quigley Holden, who studies military dissent, has served as a reviewer for fellow colleagues in the world of academia. At times, she says, the process can be monotonous. But not this time.

“Our students are thinking about what they are interested in, what they want to find out about, and they are challenging things,” she says. “Their papers reflect how inquisitive and engaged they are in thinking about the world that they live in and how it works and what they need to know to help them identify larger issues and gain more knowledge. The papers I reviewed looked at questions that are of interest to the public.”

______

If you go to the URC, there’s an endless number of presentations to take in. You may want to start with the winners. Here’s a look at the top four competitive papers:

Lillian Southern, Butler University, Parent Interaction Between an Infant with a Cochlear Implant and Additional Disabilities: How Interaction is Affected Due to Stress and Difficulty of Communication, Faculty Sponsor: Tonya Bergeson-Dana

How does the stress from having a child with hearing loss, or another disability, impact the relationship between parent and child? Southern examined exactly that. She looked at pediatric hearing loss, and how that can contribute to maternal and paternal stress. Because of that stress, she wondered, what other cascading effects on parent-child interactions occur?

Stephanie Mithika, Taylor University, The Curse of Nakedness: African Women’s Use of the Naked Body in Resistance Movements, Faculty Sponsor: Nicholas Kerton-Johnson

The female body typically has had many gendered, cultural, and political inscriptions ascribed to it. As a result, society, more often than not, perceives women as lacking in agency, unfit for public affairs, as well as political roles. Mithika though, explored how African women used their bodies to resist patriarchal, classist, capitalist, and oppressive systems through the act of disrobing. Why, she examined, was the sight of a naked African women’s body protesting serve as a powerful tool for social and political change? Mithika explores how women rewrite the script of vulnerability, and in this case, embody resistance, while reclaiming their bodies as political sites of agency and power.

Maggie Kieffer, Butler University, The Avengers: Hegemonic Depictions of Heroism Present in the Working World, Faculty Sponsor: Kristin Swenson

Kieffer digs into the superhero characters in the 2012 film The Avengers to evaluate how American ideals of heroism and patriotism are reflected through the superhero genre. Kieffer looks at Iron Man and Captain America, and analyzes how the film reaffirms hegemonic American heroism fulfilled by individual heroes coming together under a patriotic leader to combat threats to traditional American values.

Jillian Fox, Denison University, Broken Bodies, Evolving Systems: An Evaluation of International Prosecution of Sexual Violence After Genocide, Faculty Sponsor: Taku Suzuki

Using the Nuremburg Trials, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as case studies, Fox explores the influence of social movements on international humanitarian laws. Essentially, why did prosecutors start to indict individuals for crimes of gender-based violence when they did? Through Fox’s research, it seems that as the world begins to understand the reality of wartime gender-based and sexual violence, coupled with efforts by feminist organizations to raise global consciousness, then humanitarian law adapts to ensure justice prevails regardless of historical precedent.

AcademicsResearch

Advancing the Field: Highlights of the 2019 Undergraduate Research Conference

Familiarize yourself with the winners of the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Apr 11 2019 Read more
AcademicsResearch

Undergraduate Research Conference Goes Beyond Butler

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Apr 10 2019

Dacia Charlesworth remembers her first research presentation well. And the memories aren’t great.

She was peppered with aggressive questions, and it was more competitive than cordial. So when Charlesworth, Butler University’s Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships, took the reins of the Undergraduate Research Conference four years ago, she was determined to make it as welcoming as possible—both for savvy researchers and those just starting out.

“We want to ensure the URC is a stepping stone for students when it comes to introducing them to the academic world of research, but we also want to make sure it is credible,” she says. “Both of these goals are integral to our mission as a University when it comes to research in addition to this conference. We want to make sure we provide a place for all students with varying levels of interest in research, while also producing legitimate work.”

The URC will kick off for the 31st time on April 12 at Butler. There will be 473 total presentations representing 27 academic disciplines. For the first time, the conference had two international submissions—one from Saudi Arabia and one from Canada—and representatives from 23 states will flock to Indianapolis to present their research.

But more than the numbers, Charlesworth says, it all goes back to the mission. When she took over the URC she was surprised to learn that it was open submission, meaning everything that is submitted is accepted. She wanted to enhance the conference’s credibility.

So, the competitive paper division was added two years ago in an effort to mimic the process of sending a journal article out for review. Students submit their papers, and a panel of faculty members review the work, then select the top four papers.

“But I also remembered my first research experience, and how terrifying it was,” she says. “I wanted to make sure we were simultaneously creating a place at the URC for support for an inexperienced researcher who is in the beginning stages of the research process, but has yet to fully develop that project.”

To compliment the poster presentations, oral presentations, and competitive paper division, research roundtables were also added. The roundtables serve as an opportunity for students to present ideas they have for research projects, and then a panel will give them feedback.

This year, Assistant Professor of Political Science Greg Shufeldt will have 13 students present at the URC. Four of them will be at the research roundtable presenting proposals for potential projects.

“This gives them a unique opportunity to test some of their ideas and thoughts prior to jumping into the research,” he says. “They are early in their research careers, so to get some direction and helpful feedback is crucial.”

Shufeldt, who says the URC is one of his favorite days of the year, right up there with graduation, gives extra credit to students who are not presenting but who go to URC presentations to watch. He, like many professors, cancels classes, too.

Attending the URC as a spectator, Shufeldt says, can spark a student’s interest in research. Presenting in front of others also reinforces the importance of being able to explain one’s work. Discovering something critical is important, he says, but if no one knows about it, or if it’s importance is hard to convey, what is the point?

“If no one reads the research I do, what was the purpose of it all?” Shufeldt says. “This event is so critical because it is not just students doing work to get a good grade. It is all about that next step—building knowledge, contributing to the understanding of the world, presenting new problems and new ways to think about the world, and developing professionally.”

AcademicsResearch

Undergraduate Research Conference Goes Beyond Butler

473 total presentations will represent 27 academic disciplines.

Apr 10 2019 Read more

Success and Support

by Jackson Borman ’20

When Ethan Cunningham started his first year at Butler, he felt confident in the classroom. He was going into engineering, had already taken classes like chemistry before and was confident that his high school had prepared him for the next level.

But Cunningham says that first semester served as a wakeup call for his academics.

“First semester didn’t go as planned,” Cunningham says. “You don’t realize the workload that college comes with—for me, that was a rude awakening.”

During his second semester at Butler, he decided to visit the Learning Resource Center (LRC) for an individualized meeting with their student development specialists. He was unsure about the meeting at first, but by the end of his time in the office, Cunningham says he felt calm and reassured.

“I was so nervous because I did so bad my first semester, but we ended up talking about rap music,” Cunningham says. “It was helpful, knowing that you could talk to them as like a friend instead of someone who is just yelling at you to get better.”

Over the course of a couple of meetings, Cunningham worked with the student development specialists on bettering his time management skills, building new study methods, and coming up with strategies for homework assignments and projects.

While these concrete skills helped him succeed academically during his second semester at Butler, one of the biggest benefits about his time in the LRC was connecting with the people in the office.

“It’s a really positive atmosphere. You can go in and rant about whatever and they will listen,” Cunningham says. “In the office, it is usually upbeat. You can go in when you’re having a bad day, but usually come out with a smile, or at least a slightly less annoyed attitude. They always try to make it better.”

Now, more than halfway through his junior year, Cunningham feels confident about his grades, as well as his adjustment to college.

“It’s been a great experience, just having a positive atmosphere,” Cunningham says. “Ever since then, my grades have gotten better. It has worked out tremendously.”

Janice Ruston is an academic advisor and student development specialist at the LRC. She works with students like Cunningham to help them with school work as well life changes, such as the transition from high school to college.

“It could just be tweaking something that you are already pretty good at and maybe looking at it a different way or attacking it with a different study strategy to help you get where you want to be,” Ruston says.  “Whatever it is, we will figure it out.”

Ruston says that like in Cunningham’s case, one of the most frequent problems that students come to the LRC needing help with is time management.

“Butler students in general are go-getters and want to be involved in all these great things and that also contributes to the time management struggle,” Ruston says. “I think we [help with] that in a very comfortable way.”

But student development specialists at the LRC don’t limit their help to new students.

Katelyn Castiglia is a senior at Butler, but didn’t start coming to meet in the office until just recently. She has gotten help from the LRC with her post college plans, such as studying for the MCAT and advice on her personal life.

“Coming into senior year, there was a lot on my plate and I just wanted someone on campus to talk through everything with,” Castiglia says. “I didn’t go there because I needed a tutor, I went there because I wanted an extra opinion.”

She sees the office as a support system that is helping her achieve her goals for post-graduation.

“Everyone in that office is willing to help. They are very open to meeting you wherever you are in your academic or personal journey,” Castiglia says. “It’s definitely a safe zone where I know I can bring anything to them and talk through it with them and they will listen from an outside perspective.”

Another service offered by the LRC  is workshops on topics that students frequently need help with. The workshops are open to any student who is interested, and cover a range of subjects from decision making to how to prep for finals. The workshops also include sessions where tutors from the Butler Writer’s Studio and Speaker’s Lab come to help students with class papers or presentations.

Jen Mann is another academic advisor and student development specialist at the LRC. She thinks that the workshops can be great for students who might be apprehensive about asking for help.

“[The workshops] are good for students who maybe aren’t brave enough to come through our door to ask for that help themselves,” Mann says. “We like to present it in a different format because it also presents the safety of being in a group and some anonymity.”

Another way that the LRC helps Butler students is through their class called LC100 “Strategies for Success.” The course is one credit hour and is graded as a pass/fail class, but teaches students about different skills that they might need in college or beyond such as goal-setting, study skills, persistence, and emotional intelligence.

“[The class] allows students to get some practice every week with sharpening the skills that they need to be successful as a student at Butler,” Mann says. “Twice a week, these students are getting the full attention of someone who wants them to be successful.”

Emma Hawn is a first year student who was in Mann’s LC100 class last semester and is recommending that her friends take it as well.

Even though she is no longer in the class, Hawn said that she still values lessons learned and the connections that she has made in the LRC. She even visits Mann from time to time just to say hello.

While they offer many services and serve as a resource for students that can guide them in the right direction, the LRC’s main focus is supporting students in whatever ways they can.

“We are willing to meet students wherever they are to help them reach whatever level of success they want,” Mann says. “Our job is to support. I think students take a lot of comfort in knowing that there is a space where they can come and be imperfect, yet supported.”

Academics

Success and Support

Butler’s Academic Success Coaching makes a difference on grades and relationships

Success and Support

by Jackson Borman ’20
Pharmacy
AcademicsCommunity

Butler Provides Critical Clinical Expertise to Insurance Industry

BY Rachel Stern

PUBLISHED ON Apr 04 2019

INDIANAPOLIS—Eric Farmer ’07 remembers being frustrated.

It was around 2014, and Farmer, an HIV Clinical Pharmacist at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, was working at one of the largest providers of HIV care in Indiana, yet he was spending most of his time filling out paperwork.

The Affordable Care Act was in the midst of being implemented, and many of Farmer’s patients were having issues with their health insurance marketplace plans covering the HIV medications he prescribed. So, Farmer was looking for an “in” at the Indiana Department of Insurance in hopes of influencing the process on a larger scale.

Then, an email from a former Butler University professor popped into his inbox.

Carriann Smith, professor of pharmacy practice, was working on a project —with the Department of Insurance—on marketplace health insurance plans. Would Farmer be interested in helping?

“It was unbelievable timing,” says Farmer, who graduated from Butler with a degree in Pharmacy in 2007. “I was desperately looking for a way to improve the process when it comes to deciding what drugs insurance companies cover on marketplace plans. We were having issues with plans covering some of the HIV medications and not others, and I wanted to influence the process on a much bigger scale than just my institution.”

Now, about four years later, the partnership between Butler and the Department of Insurance, which has involved about 25 Butler undergrads, five Butler alumni, and 11 Butler faculty, is doing just that—influencing the process. The tool they created, which insurance companies in Indiana fully implemented last year, specifies what medications insurance companies should cover for 17 diseases that are health priorities in the state.

One purpose of health insurance plans available on the marketplace, Smith says, was to provide a level playing field, and to make sure individuals with certain diseases were not discriminated against by insurance companies in terms of the level of coverage provided.

However, prior to this tool, insurance companies were deciding which medications to cover for each disease. There was limited external clinical perspective or dialogue with experts about why certain medications would or would not be covered, Smith says.

“Our tool takes into account all of the latest research, the published literature, and uses the clinical experience and expertise of our faculty, as well as external experts,” Smith says. “The goal is to bridge the gap between the regulators, the insurance companies, and the clinicians, and get everybody on the same page. We look at the evidence and, based on that evidence, say 'Is that side effect of that medication really true, or is a prior authorization really needed, or, from a clinical perspective, this really should be covered.' Medicine is not always black and white, and this now allows for more of a dialogue.”

The Department of Insurance now shares the tool with insurance companies in Indiana, who in turn use it while finalizing their marketplace insurance plans for the year. Plans are then submitted to the Department of Insurance for approval. The tool is used by the insurance companies when deciding which medications to cover for the 17 diseases it looks at.

By providing this expertise, and in turn, this tool, to insurance companies, Butler is adding a clinical perspective to the medication decision-making process when it comes to designing insurance plans. Most insurance companies have limited clinical expertise on staff when thinking through which drugs should be covered. As a result, the clinical perspective is not always taken into consideration or discussed. This process adds that clinical expertise, which in turn could result in a more thorough development of  insurance plans.

“Our goal is not necessarily to make more drugs covered, but to make sure the key products are covered,” Smith says. “We need to weigh the benefits and potential side effects for patients. So our job as clinicians is to carefully consider the literature and evaluate whether or not a treatment is best.”

Keeping up with the latest literature and research has been the main focus of Drew Johnson, a P3 Pharmacy major, who has been involved in the project since 2018. Johnson reviews all of the generic products that come to market and makes sure the tools for bipolar, depression, and MS reflect the most current medications.

To do that, Johnson collaborates with clinical pharmacy specialists, reads up on drug industry newsletters, sifts through literature in the latest databases, and, occasionally, whips out his notes from the clinical experts who recently taught his classes at Butler to see if there is a particular drug in the pipeline that he should be aware of.

“Without having an external clinician looking at these plans, it is possible for the insurance company to look past the clinical perspective,” Johnson says. “Our involvement helps to ensure that quality insurance programs are sold throughout the state of Indiana to all individuals.”

That was essentially why the Department of Insurance reached out to Butler in the first place.

Jenifer Groth, spokesperson for the Department of Insurance, says the Department reached out to Butler in an effort to leverage the pharmacy program’s expertise, as the Department worked to determine if insurance carriers were covering an adequate amount of prescription drugs.

Which all leads back to Eric Farmer and all that paperwork.

As the Affordable Care Act was being implemented, Farmer was noticing that many of his patients with marketplace plans were having trouble getting coverage for the HIV medications he was prescribing.

“Keep in mind, when it comes to HIV, these pills are expensive,” he says. “To control HIV, the first line regimen is usually $2,500 to $3,000, and it only gets more expensive from there.”

The problem was, Farmer was seeing that most of his patients with marketplace plans were getting denied those first line regimens. The insurance companies were asking for prior authorizations for those drugs. Sometimes, insurance companies would not only ask for a prior authorization, but they would instead recommend trying a different drug—usually one from the 1990s, or one that was no longer on the market in the U.S.

“HIV is a field that moves super fast and many insurance companies weren’t keeping up,” Farmer says. “I would spend the majority of my day filling out paperwork, and I am lucky that I was able to. Imagine a small primary care doctor in rural Indiana—if he or she gets a prior authorization back from an insurance company, they likely won’t have the time or person power to fill out that paperwork. Instead, they will just ask the insurance company what will they cover, and just prescribe whatever the insurance company says they will cover. As a result, that patient is not getting the best care.”

Now, Farmer is working on the HIV tool to help guide insurance companies. One aspect of Farmer’s work is determining what medications should be covered, and which should require prior authorizations and which shouldn’t—all from a clinical perspective.

 

MEDIA CONTACT
Rachel Stern
Director of Strategic Communications
rstern@butler.edu
317-940-9257 (mobile: 914-815-5656)

Pharmacy
AcademicsCommunity

Butler Provides Critical Clinical Expertise to Insurance Industry

Butler has developed a tool that could aid in a more thorough development of insurance plans.

Apr 04 2019 Read more

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