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Tyson proves he is rock star of public science

Tyson - stageAuthor, TV host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke for nearly three hours Wednesday to a capacity crowd in UIndy’s Nicoson Hall arena.

Read Indianapolis Star story

See Indy Star photo gallery

Watch WRTV report

Internationally known astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hit the UIndy campus at 4 p.m. Wednesday for a small-group discussion with students, and he didn’t stop presenting until 10:15 p.m., as he stood in the Nicoson Hall parking lot with a laser pointer, delighting a handful of faculty and staff with an impromptu astronomy talk.

For the six-hour period in between, the Cosmos and Nova host was a tireless dynamo — part professor, part standup comedian — showing why he has become one of the world’s leading public ambassadors of science.

Tyson - Pluto

Most notably, Tyson spent nearly three hours on stage in the Nicoson arena, which he entered to screams and a standing ovation from a packed-to-the-rafters crowd of more than 4,000. Another 400-plus fans viewed the standing-room-only show on closed-circuit video in Ransburg Auditorium.

Speaking — or rather, performing — well past the allotted time, the director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium roamed the stage and bantered with the audience while clicking through slides and breezing through a parade of topics, from the risk of asteroid collisions to his appearance in a Superman comic book.

He took special pleasure in debunking common pop-culture misconceptions about astronomy, noting that a so-called “super moon” is imperceptibly larger than a regular full moon and explaining, without apology and with apparent relish, why Pluto doesn’t deserve to be called a planet. Amid frequent humor, the talk included many substantive observations, as he noted America’s declining primacy in basic scientific research and expressed disappointment in the U.S. space program.

“NASA is driving around the block, boldly going where hundreds have gone before,” he quipped.

At one point, Tyson took a cell call and held his phone up to the microphone. It was his comrade Bill Nye the Science Guy, who offered his own words of inspiration: “You can change the world,” Nye said to the astonished crowd. “Go Greyhounds!”

Today’s Indianapolis Star carries an excellent recounting of the main presentation by reporter Shari Rudavski, who interviewed Tyson for a preview story in August and also conducted a contest that awarded coveted tickets to three local middle and high school students and their guests.

The whirlwind UIndy tour began with an informal hour-long chat before a select group of students. “I think of myself as a servant to the public’s appetite for the universe,” he said. Asked by a wrestler about his own high school and college wresting career, Tyson called the student up and demonstrated an original move called “the Double Tidal Lock,” which he compared to the gravitational interplay between two planets. He also addressed a VIP crowd at a reception preceding the main event.

Tyson’s visit was part of UIndy’s Blanche E. Penrod Lecture Series and was sponsored in part by Graystone Consulting, Monarch Beverage Co., Krieg Devault LLP and RJE Business Interiors.

Tyson - crowdMore than 4,000 spectators crowded into Nicoson Hall for Tyson’s appearance, many of whom began lining up outside at 4 p.m. for the 7 p.m. event. The free tickets were snapped up in minutes when released in September.

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Video: Homecoming Court sings for your votes

The voting is underway for this year’s Homecoming king and queen at UIndy, and the court features a strong list of contenders with a track record of academic success, campus involvement and community service — not to mention a sense of humor.

In what has become a Greyhound tradition, the candidates collaborated on an utterly charming music video to introduce themselves. “All About Them Votes” is set to pop diva Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” with scenes of the crew frolicking about campus.

So without further ado, roll the clip and meet junior Psychology major Lindsey Bryant, junior International Relations major Siglinde Ferguson, senior Global Leadership major Stephanie Kalili, senior Communication major Colin Bowles, senior Psychology major Anthony Jackson, and senior Exercise Science major Daniel Lee. The voting is taking place here, and the winners will be crowned at halftime of Saturday night’s football game in Key Stadium.

Learn more about the members of this year’s Homecoming Court on the UIndy Facebook page.

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Students, staff collaborate on new My UIndy

If you like the new look, structure and functionality of My UIndy – the university’s intranet for students, faculty and staff – you can thank a months-long collaboration between the Information Systems staff and students in the Department of Art & Design.



Brianna Gannon, Kathleen Graves and Aaron Yoder were juniors last spring when the My UIndy overhaul became a project for One14 Design Studio, the art department’s student-run creative agency.



While the IS staffers handled the heavy lifting of data transfer and system integration, the students redesigned the My UIndy logo, revamped the home page and scoured the site for redundancies and opportunities to improve usability.



“We went through each page, clicked on every single link,” says Gannon, a Visual Communication Design major from LaPorte. “It’s been really awesome working with back-end developers in the process. We learned a lot, and it was fun.”

Web Services staffer Kathy Ellis, who spearheaded the conversion as portal and content management system administrator, said the input was invaluable. The students advocated for a seamless integration of ACE and other services with a single sign-in, and they brought a fresh perspective on which information was most important to users.

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Music students share talent at Eskenazi Health

Once again this year, students from the UIndy Department of Music and its Pre-College Music Program are using their talents to entertain and soothe patients, staff and visitors at Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital.



UIndy’s Community Music Service Fellowship, coordinated by associate adjunct professor Minju Choi, enables participants to perform afternoon concerts in the hospital’s Eli Lilly & Co. Foundation Concourse, which features a grand piano. The fellowship is available to all creative UIndy and advanced pre-college-level students in good academic standing. The program launched last year and resumed Monday with a performance by senior Music Teaching major Daniel Watson on piano.

Choi, Minju - web

Dr. Choi

Open to the public, upcoming CMSF concerts scheduled so far include:

  • 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 – Ryan McKibben (pre-college student), piano
  • Noon Thursday, Oct. 30 – Abby Egenolf, piano, and Sarah Page, violin
  • 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14 – Jessica Spiars, piano, and Natalie Covert, piano
  • 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24 – Allison Vickery, piano
  • Noon Monday, Dec. 1 – Carrie Atkinson, piano
  • Noon Tuesday, Dec. 16 – Brandon Vos, piano

Read more about the program here.

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Pep rally kicks off Homecoming Week fun

Homecoming pep rally 2014The UIndy Pep Band performs at today’s lunchtime pep rally, setting the mood for a week of activities leading up to Saturday’s Homecoming 2014 celebration.


Homecoming Week is in full swing on the UIndy campus, starting today with a pep rally and continuing with events each day, many of them open to the public.

The long list of activities includes a carnival from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday in UIndy Hall, followed by stargazing on Smith Mall at 7 p.m.; Wednesday night’s sold-out appearance by celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson; Thursday night’s concert by the Plain White T’s; and the annual Alumni Honors and Recognition Banquet on Friday. The Class of 1964 is having its 50-year reunion this year.

Saturday is Game Day, as the Greyhounds face the Lincoln University Blue Tigers at 6 p.m. in Key Stadium. Halftime festivities will include the crowning of the Homecoming king and queen and a musical performance by singer-songwriter and UIndy graduate Addie Kosten, last year’s queen.

The Game Day action actually begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with the inaugural Hound Hustle 5K run/walk, taking participants on a tour of the campus and University Heights neighborhood. From 3 to 6 p.m., visitors can enjoy Tailgate Town outside the stadium at Hanna and State avenues, with music, games, inflatable attractions, food for purchase and more. Academic departments will host free activities including an interactive mock crime scene where visitors can learn about forensic science and a caricature booth with UIndy alumnus Gary Barker, acclaimed comic artist and longtime assistant cartoonist for Jim Davis’ “Garfield” strip. A 200-foot portable zip line along the north side of Hanna Avenue also will be available for free rides from 3 to 6 p.m.

The Homecoming Parade will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday and proceed down Hanna Avenue, with classic cars, a clown band and golf-cart floats decorated by students to represent their campus organizations and residence halls.

For safety reasons, Saturday’s activities will require lane closures on Hanna Avenue between Shelby Street and State Avenue. The westbound lanes will be closed from 2 to 6 p.m., and all lanes will be closed from 9 to 9:40 a.m. and from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Police and volunteers will guide traffic to detour routes along Standish Avenue to the north and Lawrence Avenue to the south.

More information on these and other events is available at

Beam signingStudents take time out to sign a construction beam for the UIndy Health Pavilion, which is now taking shape at Hanna and State avenues. The beam will be in the Schwitzer Student Center atrium all week to be signed by students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders. A “topping out” ceremony, when this final structural beam is hoisted into place, will take place Nov. 4.

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Regional health career center moves to UIndy

MICI-AHEC fits well with university’s strength in health professions

A regional program that recruits and retains healthcare professionals to work in underserved communities has a new home at the University of Indianapolis.

UIndy now hosts the Metropolitan Indianapolis/Central Indiana Area Health Education Center, known as MICI-AHEC, which is active in Marion and the eight surrounding counties. It is one of eight regional AHEC centers around the state dedicated to this special kind of workforce development, which is based on research showing that health professionals tend to serve communities where they grew up and received their training.

“With our School of Nursing, College of Health Sciences and other health-related programs, not to mention our culture of community engagement and service, UIndy is a leader in the field and a natural choice to host this important program,” said Deborah Balogh, executive vice president and provost at UIndy. “We also look forward to integrating this new office with our operations and creating new opportunities for our students and faculty.”



Executive Director Kimberly McElroy-Jones will continue to lead the MICI-AHEC, as she has since its founding in 2006. The office and its seven staff members are located in the Fountain Square Center on Shelby Street, where UIndy shares space with community organizations. The change comes as the university prepares to foster greater multidisciplinary collaboration by moving its schools of nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology and other health-related programs into the new four-story Health Pavilion that is now under construction at the main campus on Hanna Avenue.

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Inaugural Hound Hustle 5K fun run is Oct. 25

Hound HustleAs part of a fun and busy week of Homecoming festivities at UIndy, local running and walking enthusiasts can enjoy a scenic workout and support higher education by joining in the inaugural Hound Hustle 5K on Saturday, Oct. 25.

The fast, flat and scenic course will take participants on a tour of the UIndy campus and the University Heights neighborhood, highlighting new development projects along the way. The Hound Hustle will start at 9 a.m. Oct. 25, with on-site registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. in the Schwitzer Student Center atrium.

Registration is $20 in advance online and $25 cash at the event. Each participant will receive a T-shirt, refreshments and a chance at awards for the top three male and female finishers in each age division. Five dollars from each entry fee will support scholarships and programs for students.

At 10 a.m., children 10 and younger can enjoy the Ace Chase, a lap around UIndy’s Smith Mall led by Ace, the Greyhound mascot. The short run will take place in two divisions, one for ages 7-10 and one for ages 6 and younger. Kids can register at the event, and all runners will receive prizes.

Registration and more information are available at

Spearheading the event has been Dr. Katherine Stickney, associate professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, who also can answer questions at 788-3552.

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Health faculty team to foster collaboration

IPEC conference-webAttending the recent Interprofessional Education Collaborative Fall Institute were UIndy’s Ellen Miller (left), Stephanie Combs Miller, Lori Rasmussen, Michelle Meer and Kate DeCleene Huber, representing various disciplines on campus.

The effort to spark greater collaboration among UIndy’s various health- and wellness-related disciplines – as embodied in the new Health Pavilion that will house them all together next year – got a shot in the arm earlier this month when five faculty members traveled to the Interprofessional Education Collaborative’s Fall Institute near Washington, D.C.

IPEC is dedicated to advancing interprofessional education, in which students from different health professions work together and learn from each other, reflecting the collaborative nature of today’s healthcare workplace.

Comprising the UIndy contingent were Ellen Miller, executive director of the Center for Aging & Community and interim associate provost for research, graduate programs and academic partnerships, along with Stephanie Combs Miller from Physical TherapyLori Rasmussen from Nursing, Michelle Meer from Social Work and Kate DeCleene Huber from Occupational Therapy. Now the group plans to organize faculty development sessions and help promote interprofessional efforts among their colleagues and students, Huber says, as recommended by the World Health Organization and other authorities.

“When students graduate, they’re not working in a silo; they’re part of a larger healthcare team,” she says. “The more we can prepare students for that, the better the outcome is for patients.”

One possibility would be mixing together nursing, occupational therapy and social work majors, for example, into interprofessional teams for lab courses that simulate hospital settings. Other colleges, depending on their offerings, have even incorporated students from mortuary, law and religion programs, as those professions also have roles to play in patient care, Huber says.

“The possibilities are endless,” she says. “All of our professions have so much to offer patients, and they’re more valuable when they can be integrated.”

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Lacrosse coaches get introduction to campus

lacrosse coaches - webGreg Stocks and Jillian Howley are off to a strong start in recruiting UIndy’s first lacrosse teams, they say, with promising prospects from coast to coast.

Read Indianapolis Star story

The husband-wife coaching duo for UIndy’s new men’s and women’s lacrosse program were introduced to campus Thursday at a meet-and-greet arranged by the Department of Athletics.

Greg Stocks and Jillian Howley come from similar head coaching positions at Division II Lake Erie College in Ohio. They got married just before landing the UIndy jobs this spring, and they’ve spent most of their time since then on nationwide recruiting trips. The men’s game requires 12 players, the women’s game 10, and each coach expects to carry a roster roughly double that size.

Both noted UIndy’s reputation as a D-II powerhouse and expressed gratitude for the warm welcome they’ve received so far in Indianapolis. They still seemed pleasantly surprised to be sharing new career opportunities as a sort of wedding gift.

“I couldn’t have written it any better,” Howley said.

Dr. Sue Willey, vice president for Intercollegiate Athletics, noted their records of success and the fact that Stocks has experience with building new teams, having launched Lake Erie’s program in 2007 and molded it into a nationally ranked championship contender.

Calling the new coaches “a great fit for the University of Indianapolis,” Willey acknowledged that UIndy’s gain was someone else’s loss.

“Probably my newest enemy is the AD at Lake Erie,” she joked.

The Eastern College Athletic Conference announced last week that it has accepted UIndy men’s lacrosse as a full member. The women’s team is expected to join the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. UIndy’s first lacrosse season will come in Spring 2016.

Learn more about the coaches and Indiana’s first D-II lacrosse program at UIndy Athletics.

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Flag celebration features nearly 80 nations

Flag day 2014 - processionSophomore marketing major Sultan Salamh of Saudi Arabia offered to carry the Jamaican flag in Thursday’s Celebration of the Flags opening procession.

Thursday was cool, wet and gray outside, but the atmosphere in UIndy’s Athletics & Recreation Center was warm and colorful.

Student Daisy Wang performs traditional Chinese music.

Student Daisy Wang of China

Once again, UIndy put its international flavor on display with the 26th annual Celebration of the Flags, that fun and moving fall favorite that recognizes the many home countries of our current students, faculty and staff. Nearly 80 nations were represented in this year’s edition, the first ever staged inside the ARC.

After the flag procession, the program featured remarks from junior Business major Roshanne Smith of the Bahamas, student government President Tyler Offutt and university President Robert Manuel. Three students from UIndy’s joint degree program with the Ningbo Institute of Technology – Daisy Wang, Denny Lou and Penwin Wang – performed traditional Chinese music.

Later the crowd enjoyed international snacks and activities at four tables representing China, Saudi Arabia, India and the nations of Africa, which account for a large portion of the university’s international student body.

More photos can be seen at the UIndy Facebook page.

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