Physical therapy professor Emily Slaven named Teacher of the Year

“It’s important to teach students how to think as much as learning the content,” said Emily Slaven, PT, PhD, who has been named the 2019 University of Indianapolis Teacher of the Year.

Slaven, an associate professor and director of the orthopedic residency program in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, has been a faculty member since 2010. Her students frequently cite her willingness to get to know them as people and not just students.

“Since my first class with her, Emily treated me both as a student and a future colleague,” said a former student.

Known as a professor who teaches beyond the textbook, Slaven said “seeing others give back to the profession as excellent clinicians, to impact lives for the better, is what teaching is all about.”

She not only talks about the importance of giving back, but she teaches by example. Slaven regularly volunteers as a supervising physical therapist at a student-run pro bono clinic that provides care to underserved clients and is the president of the Indiana chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association.

In letters of support, former students pointed to Slaven’s clear passion for teaching and her dynamic classroom presence as key assets.

College of Health Sciences Dean Stephanie Kelly said: “Emily consistently demonstrates excellence in teaching through her commitment to preparing excellent physical therapy clinicians.” Kelly noted that Slaven often extends her teaching beyond the classroom, working with small groups of students outside regular class time, mentoring students in volunteer efforts, and providing continuing education and clinical in-services to practicing clinicians.

Senior spotlight: Adam Lutgring (criminal justice)

Adam Lutgring '19

Adam Lutgring ’19

Adam Lutgring ’19 will graduate this May with a strong University of Indianapolis family legacy.

Lutgring is a criminal justice major with a concentration in law enforcement and a minor in business administration. He has served as a resident assistant for three years during his UIndy career, starting off in Warren Hall as a freshman and then becoming an RA in Warren his sophomore year. As a junior he was an RA in Central Hall and during his senior year, he was an RA in Roberts Hall.

Duane Lutgring '85 (last row, second from right)

Duane Lutgring ’85 (last row, third from right)

It’s fair to say Lutgring is following a family tradition. His father Duane Lutgring ’85 was an RA in Dailey Hall (later known as Buxton Hall). And Warren Hall holds a special significance for the Lutgrings as the place where Adam’s parents, Duane ’85 and Kelly Adams Lutgring ’84, met for the first time! 

Adam Lutgring reflected on the strong social and professional network he built while at UIndy.

Kelly Adams Lutgring ’84 (top row, second from left)

Kelly Adams Lutgring ’84 (top row, second from left)

“I have cherished each and every moment of my time as a UIndy student,” he said. “I have met so many amazing people during these last four years and will continue those relationships throughout the rest of my life. I have made so many memories and am so grateful to have attended UIndy. I found my career path here with the help of my professors, and am excited to build off of the skills I have learned as a UIndy student.”

Student represents UIndy during 500 Festival Princess Program

McKayla Tucker ‘21 (human biology) is one of the 33 women selected to be a 2019 500 Festival Princess. These women represent 13 Indiana colleges and universities and 20 cities across the state. With a cumulative GPA of 3.65, this year’s 500 Festival Princesses were selected from hundreds of applicants based on communication skills, academic performance and community involvement.  


A Valparaiso native, Tucker has a pre-physical therapy concentration and is working on earning her Healthy Diploma. After graduating, she plans to attend graduate school at UIndy and complete her physical therapy track with goals of working with OrthoIndy or the Indiana Pacers.  

Tucker said being selected for the 500 Princess Program is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to expand her professional network and grow her skill set.

“I’ve learned to communicate across the spectrum – with all ages and professional groups,” Tucker said about her involvement in the 500 Festival Leadership Development Program. “My communication skills and leadership skills are two places where I’ve really seen a lot of growth.”  

Tucker also received a $1,000 scholarship, made possible by Marlyne Sexton and the 500 Festival Foundation.

I’m representing something so much bigger than myself. Not only am I representing my hometown of Valparaiso, I am representing UIndy and the entire state of Indiana and what we hold near and dear to our hearts,” Tucker said.

Tucker is currently working to get an official pace car on campus with hopes of getting people as excited about the 500 Festival Parade as she is. She pointed out that as one of the top three best parades in the nation, it’s not an event you’ll want to skip.

Related: Professional Edge Center hosts “Finish Strong” student appreciation event

Tucker said a few things have greatly impacted her journey to become a princess, including countless hours of volunteer work in her hometown and in Indianapolis. She also was involved with Delight ministries on campus.

Another factor that contributed to Tucker’s success is her former chemistry professor, Anne Cutler. Referring to Cutler as her “campus mom,” Tucker credits the UIndy faculty with helping to direct her area of focus and discover her place on campus.  

“Not only did she help me with some really big life situations, she also helped me to figure out how to make the most out of my time and experience at UIndy,” Tucker said.

“I just wish more young women knew about the program and applied…[being a part of the princess program] is so much more than a sash and tiara,” said Tucker.

Keep up with 500 Festival activities

About the 500 Festival Program
The 500 Festival Princess Program, presented by Reis-Nichols Jewelers, celebrates Indiana’s most civic-minded, academically driven young women. Each year, 33 college-aged women are selected as 500 Festival Princesses and serve as ambassadors of the 500 Festival, their hometowns, and their colleges/universities. Serving as a 500 Festival Princess provides young women with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and countless opportunities for leadership and professional development. Since the program’s founding in 1959, nearly 2,000 Indiana women have experienced the honor of being selected as a 500 Festival Princess.

Undergrad experiences set foundation for public health grad’s career

CNelsonOn a sunny day in May 2013, Corey Nelson walked across the stage in the middle of UIndy’s Key Stadium with a new degree in hand from the College of Health Sciences and a world of opportunity before him. A graduate from the Community Health Education program, now known as Public Health Education and Promotion, Nelson remembers how his four years at UIndy prepared him for a career in public health.

“While still in school, I was creating and designing health and wellness programs, reviewing current literature and corporate health guidelines, implementing programs rooted in behavior change theories, and evaluating the efficacy and impact on the engaged individuals and target populations,” Nelson said. “Without a doubt, what I did in the classroom is exactly what I did right out of school and still do to this day.”

A few years later, Nelson has progressed through the healthcare field. Following an internship with Community Health Network’s Employer Health division, Nelson gained experience at Community as a health coach, preventative care specialist and wellness coordinator before taking a job as a health promotion consultant/engagement consultant for Humana. Now he’s found a home as an account manager at Grand Rounds, a company focused on making healthcare more accessible and simpler for consumers, where he hopes to positively impact the healthcare system.

“Before committing to a future in healthcare, my only understanding of healthcare was at the most basic level, ‘If you are hurt or ill, go see a doctor,’” he said. “My time at UIndy introduced me to the impact individuals can have in healthcare when deciding to commit themselves to prevention and engagement and altering the course of how care is delivered, when care is delivered, and what makes and creates impact in healthcare.”

Nelson accredits his confidence and knowledge in the field to the in-depth education he received. “It goes without saying, that while in school, regardless of where, you receive the educational framework; the readings, lectures, papers, tests and quizzes. However, the differentiator at UIndy is the applied knowledge.”

Aside from the real-life experience in the program itself, Nelson said he will forever be grateful for the individual attention and mentorship he received on a personal level from the faculty at UIndy.

“My biggest role model at UIndy was and still is Dr. Rauch. Upon graduating from UIndy I would share the role she played with others not only as an educator and professor but often tossed out the title ‘Campus Mom.’ Dr. Rauch was there any time I needed her; whether it was academics, personal life, or anything in between, she was the one I went to first.”

“UIndy made a significant impact in my preparation for the health field by incorporating a vast array of hands-on experiences and projects and combining that with the opportunity to meet and hear from experts in the field. The networking I completed while still in school at UIndy helped launch my career, and still plays a vital role in my life today.”

But when asked what mattered most when Nelson looks back on his college days? Easy; human connection.

“What I value the most about my time at UIndy was the personal touch to my education and growth as a person. Class sizes were small, which led to hands-on experience and larger responsibility in the classroom. Professors know you as a person and not a number in the class.”

It’s this perspective he now brings into the healthcare field; lessons from campus now being played out in the community.

– Written by Olivia Horvath, OTD Class of 2020

University of Indianapolis student honored as Newman Civic Fellow

Natalie Benson speaks at the Strain Honors College and Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences Scholars Day Luncheon in 2018.

Natalie Benson speaks at the Strain Honors College and Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences Scholars Day Luncheon in 2018.

Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, has announced the 262 students who will make up the organization’s 2019-2020 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows, including University of Indianapolis student Natalie Benson ’19.

Benson, a double major in religion and psychology, plans to pursue a master’s degree in divinity at Yale Divinity School in fall 2019. As a student leader with the University’s Office of Ecumenical & Interfaith Programs, Benson worked with faculty and students to develop programming that promotes mutual understanding and respect between religious and non-religious groups on campus. She is the student recipient of the 2019 Jerry Israel Interfaith Service Award, which recognizes members of the University of Indianapolis community who display exceptional commitment to service in an interfaith context.

During her four years on campus, Benson co-founded a new student organization, Better Together Interfaith, a student-run group committed to strengthening interfaith service, dialogue and literacy. She serves as a swim coach with local YMCAs and has worked with the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago to train and mentor student leaders throughout the country.

“I am honored to have been nominated for this opportunity by my university, which has supported and encouraged me as I discovered a calling for civic engagement and public leadership,” Benson said.

The Newman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience emphasizing personal, professional and civic growth for students who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership and an investment in solving public problems. The Newman Civic Fellowship is supported by the KPMG Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation. Learn more at


Physical therapy alum retraces her path to success

CBNewgentMore than a decade after leaving campus, University of Indianapolis Krannert School of Physical Therapy alumna Christa Buell Newgent retraces her path to success and how her alma mater helped on that journey.

Newgent, who earned a bachelor’s in psychology from UIndy in 2000 and a master’s in physical therapy in 2002, is now the corporate director of rehabilitation at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in the Florida panhandle.

From clinic to management

After graduation from physical therapy school, Newgent moved to a small town, where her husband Matt ’99 (history), ’01 (MBA), was a college baseball coach. She worked in a rural hospital, caring for inpatients, outpatients and residents at a local nursing home.

“That initial setting really exposed me to all aspects of patient care,” Newgent said. “We were only one of two therapy providers within a two-hour drive, so I had to problem solve and maximize the resources around me to ensure patient outcomes.”

From there, the Newgents moved to Oklahoma City, where Christa worked at Integris Health’s Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation treating outpatients with orthopedic and neurologic conditions, as well as pediatric patients. During her 13 years in Oklahoma, she had the opportunity to move from a lead PT position to management at Jim Thorpe, a role that she says gave her greater insights into clinic operations.

Eventually, she transitioned into managing multiple clinics within Integris Health’s Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation and was involved with the construction and opening of an outpatient cancer clinic. Her role included building a cancer rehab program and helping clinicians earn their STAR Program® Certifications, a designation of superior oncology rehabilitation specialists.

In 2015, the Newgents relocated to Florida, where Christa moved into a management role at the Andrews Institute. After a few years of successfully managing one of Andrews’ outpatient clinics, she took on her current role as corporate director of rehabilitation in the summer of 2018.

Newgent manages the operations of four acute care settings, eight outpatient clinics, three disciplines (including physical therapy) and over 20 specialties.

“I’m grateful every day to have the opportunity to work with some of the greatest orthopedic surgeons, nurses, physician assistants and therapists in the country,” Newgent said. “While I’m not providing direct patient care, I enjoy having an impact on the successful operations of our system to positively improve the lives of the patients around us.”

Thoughts on UIndy and PT

“UIndy did a wonderful job of selecting professors at the topic of their chosen specialty who were passionate about the profession,” said Newgent, who was also a UIndy soccer player.

“What I recall very clearly is that all the professors were still practicing therapists, so they would inject a real-life approach into how they taught patient care. I feel confident that this made me ready to step into the workforce and be successful.”

As for what she would tell someone interested in studying physical therapy, Newgent encourages an open mind.

“Don’t settle on one specialty during your training,” she said. “I thought I only wanted to work in outpatient orthopedics, but along the way, I found passion in pediatrics, geriatrics, neuro, and oncology as well. I came back to orthopedics, but my career was enriched by those other experiences.”

Learn more about the Krannert School of Physical Therapy

University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community awarded $500,000 in Tennessee Civil Monetary Penalty funds

The University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community has been awarded nearly $500,000 in Civil Monetary Penalty funding by the Tennessee Department of Health and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement a statewide system of Regional Healthcare Quality Improvement Collaboratives to improve the quality of long-term care in nursing facilities statewide.

As CAC’s first contract in Tennessee, five Regional Collaboratives will be developed across Tennessee to implement process improvement projects statewide. The Collaboratives will recruit long-term care facilities and support expansion of Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) plans for individual buildings, and facilitate two group process improvement projects.

An Advisory Group will be formed to develop and enhance state-level partnerships that will support the work of the Collaboratives. CAC will provide the overall support, structure, and technical assistance needed to create and sustain these Collaboratives.

The Tennessee Regional Collaboratives project will begin in March 2019 and will continue for two years.

CAC’s efforts in Tennessee are modeled after a similar approach the Center has implemented in partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health since 2015.  The Indiana Regional Collaboratives project has reported the following quality improvement outcomes:

  • Reduction of antipsychotic medications by 43 percent.
  • Reduction of rates of falls by 30 percent.
  • Reduction of hospitalizations by 38 percent.
  • Reduction of rates of UTIs by an average of 43 percent across five Collaborative (24-57 percent reductions).
  • Reduction in CNA turnover by 16 percent.
  • More than $3 million in calculated savings.

“Qsource is pleased to be a partner in this initiative. It directly aligns with our efforts to make healthcare better in long-term care settings across Tennessee,” said Beth Hercher, Quality Improvement Advisor for Qsource.

The Tennessee Department of Health facilitates the redistribution of collected nursing home civil monetary penalties through a Request for Application process to improve the quality of life and quality of care of nursing home residents. Learn more.

“We are excited to bring our proven expertise in leading wide-scale quality improvement in long-term care projects to Tennessee,” said Ellen Burton, senior project director. “We have every expectation that the Tennessee Regional Collaborative project will mean significant benefit and improved care to nursing home residents in the Volunteer state.”

Any nursing home interested in participating in the Tennessee Regional Collaborative project should contact Ellen Burton at

Caitlynn Richardson ’16 honored with Charlotte Boener Award

Caitlynn RichardsonCaitlynn Richardson ’16 is receiving the Charlotte Boener Award for Innovative Middle School Science Teaching at the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc. conference in February 2019. Richardson is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows Program, now known as Teach (STEM)³ at the University of Indianapolis.  

Richardson graduated from Indiana University in 2015 with two bachelor’s degrees in biology and political science, as well as minors in animal behavior and education. Serving as an advocate for teachers, she recently testified at the Indiana State Legislature on issues related to teacher compensation.

We caught up with Richardson to learn more about her recent achievements.

Q: Where have you worked since graduating from UIndy?

A: During the program, I received an offer to work at Chapel Hill 7th & 8th Grade Center in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township and I have worked there ever since. I teach seventh and eighth-grade science, depending on what year it is.

Q: How does it feel to have your work recognized with the Charlotte Boener award?

A: I’m very appreciative of the recognition! My mentor from my Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program nominated me this year after seeing a few project-based learning units I had designed. I am thankful that she took the time to share my work with other educators.

Q: How did UIndy’s School of Education program prepare you for your career?

A: The program gave me tools and resources that were vital to a first-year teacher, including frequent meetings with my mentor, numerous lesson plans and materials ready to implement in my classroom, plus digital resources I could use to change things up. As a new teacher, accumulating as many resources as possible really helps balance out the stress of everything else you’re trying to learn. The information presented in my classes was able to be used directly in my practice, and I can’t be more thankful to UIndy for all I learned at my time there.

Q: Was there anyone at UIndy who helped you along the way?

A: I could easily list all of my professors in the program! Every single one helped me in some way. I’m especially thankful for Deb Sachs, Jean Lee and Carol Chen. Deb and Jean put their hearts into the program and make sure each of their students is as successful as possible. They are able to see the best in you and push you to the best of your abilities, even when you doubt yourself. Carol was my mentor teacher during the program and she has been one of my biggest supporters throughout the program and in the first years of my teaching career. I also should give a big shout out to my husband, Todd, because he is the reason I applied to the MAT program in the first place. I was pretty lost as to what I wanted to do my senior year of college, and he helped me realize that teaching was the path for me.

Q: You recently testified on behalf of teacher compensation and other issues during a House Education Committee meeting at the Indiana legislature – why did you decide to get involved?

A: My superintendent sent out e-mails about a program called the Teach Plus Policy Fellowship, which is a program devoted to empowering teachers to take leadership over policies that will directly affect students. I applied last year and was accepted into the year-long fellowship this school year. I have a background in political science, and I was very interested in the opportunity to learn more about how education policies are designed. I also wanted to have a more active role in making these decisions as a professional in my field.

Q: What would you like lawmakers and the general public to understand about the issues teachers face and how that affects children’s education?

A: Before I became a teacher, I was unaware of the small, but important, things that can completely change a classroom as well as a child’s experience in public school. Through my work with Teach Plus, I have been able to share my experience with teacher preparation with legislators in regards to HB 1009. This bill proposes to have a one-year residency for teacher prep programs, similar to what I experienced at UIndy. I encourage lawmakers and the general public to reach out to teachers and ask them questions. I love our profession, and I know most teachers do as well. We would be more than willing to share our stories to help foster understanding of best practices in education and what would improve the field.

Q: How did your program at UIndy prepare or encourage you to advocate for teachers?

A: Part of the program was learning and implementing research-based best practices. Knowing the research behind the practices helps me push for resources and policies that support teachers as they try to provide the best education possible for their students. For instance, research shows that project-based learning helps students develop a deeper understanding of knowledge while simultaneously learning necessary 21st-century skills like collaboration and critical thinking.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: I encourage anyone who is considering education as a major to reach out and speak with the professors in UIndy’s School of Education. They are experts in their field, and they will help in any way they can. Sometimes there is a lot of negativity surrounding the teaching field, but it is an absolutely rewarding and meaningful career that I truly enjoy doing. Watching students engage, understand, and enjoy content has no parallel! I am thankful to have the opportunity to share my love of science with young minds, and it is my hope that they begin to love it too before they leave my class.

Department of Music brings home prestigious awards

The University of Indianapolis Department of Music continues to set standards of excellence that receive national and regional recognition.

Department of Music 2019 NafME awardsBrenda Clark, assistant dean of the Shaheen College of Arts and Sciences, Jacqueline Wiernicki ‘19 (instrumental/ general music education), and Anna Miller ‘20 (choral/ general music education) received National Association for Music Educators (NAfME) awards at the annual Indiana Music Educators Association (IMEA) conference in Fort Wayne.

Clark, associate professor of music and director of music education programs, received the Outstanding Collegiate Educator of the Year Award. She is the only educator to receive this honor twice.

Wiernicki and Miller were named Outstanding Future Music Educators. This is the 11th consecutive year the award has gone to a UIndy student, for a total of 16 individual awards since 2009.

“It was humbling to receive an award that recognized the hard work I’ve been putting in over the last three years,” said Miller. “It was an honor to represent UIndy and our music education program.”

“It felt very gratifying to receive the Outstanding Future Music Educator Award,” added Wiernicki, who is the president of UIndy’s chapter of NAfME. “My experiences at the University of Indianapolis have prepared me through many experiences in public schools, beginning freshman year up through my current student teaching placement. The wonderful music professors guided, encouraged and led me by their example.”

Both award recipients pointed to the music department’s emphasis on fieldwork that begins early in the program.

“Aside from studying privately and taking classes in theory, we are out in schools observing and learning from active music educators from year one. This gives us the opportunity to get our feet wet and see what the profession is all about firsthand,” said Miller.

FB_IMG_1548109605612Other UIndy honorees at the conference include alumni Shaina Liv Lescano ‘18, who won the New Teacher Award granted by the Indiana American String Teachers Association, and Mick Bridgwater ‘73, who received the Outstanding Hoosier Musician Award.

“The achievements of the students, alumni and faculty truly exemplify the mission and goals of the department, college and university,” Clark said. “We strive to be servant leaders in every capacity of our profession and it’s gratifying to see those efforts recognized on such a significant level.”

Congratulations to Greyhound faculty, students, and alumni!

Incoming freshman overcomes obstacles, named MVP for Colts’ game

Alec DeuelIncoming University of Indianapolis freshman Alec Deuel knows about overcoming obstacles. He was diagnosed with autism in grade school and struggled academically.

In eighth grade, he enrolled at Damar Charter Academy and the story changed: By day three, he tested out of algebra, earning his first high school credit. Recently, he scored 30 on the ACT, well over the 22.6 average for 2017 test takers in Indiana, according to Prep Scholar.

“Damar has been a tremendous help for him and allowed him to work at his pace and at his level,” Jennifer Atkinson, Alec’s mom, said.

Another obstacle he and his mom have overcome is homelessness. Atkinson credits the Salvation Army for providing transitional housing, and Damar for working with staff at the Salvation Army to provide modifications for a guest with autism.

Alec is now on the path to becoming valedictorian of his high school graduating class and was awarded the Senator Richard G Lugar Award of Academic Distinction through the University of Indianapolis. Alec’s goal is to become a professor of paleontology, something he’s been talking about since he was six years old.

This Christmas, he’s not asking for dinosaurs, though. He wants a Jack Doyle jersey. Alec met the Colts tight end when he visited Damar shortly after joining the team. Alec has been a fan ever since.

On Sunday, Dec. 16, he’ll be on the field to watch the team warm up before he takes his MVP seats for the game with his mom, grandmother and step-grandfather. He’s been named the Damar MVP for the game as part of the Colts’ partnership with Damar Services to reward students for their achievements.

We look forward to welcoming Alec and the entire Class of 2023 to campus next fall!

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