Pack Away Hunger 2020

University of Indianapolis students, faculty, staff and their families packed 55,000 meals for people in need on Monday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. About 225 volunteers participated in the University’s annual “Pack Away Hunger” event to package the meals, which will be distributed to Indianapolis-based organizations serving families in need. This is the fifth consecutive year UIndy has participated in Pack Away Hunger, and during that time we’ve packed around 250,000 meals for local families in need.

The event received media coverage from news outlets including WISH-TV, WTHR-TV and Fox 59.


Pack Away Hunger works to battle hunger in Indianapolis and all over the world. The focus of Pack Away Hunger is to provide nutritious meals for families. Each Nutri-Plenty™ meal that is produced provides vitamins and minerals, and contains a healthy mixture of rice, soy, vegetables and flavorings.

R. B. Annis School of Engineering hosts FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff Event

The R. B. Annis School of Engineering hosted the annual FIRST Robotics Competition Kickoff Event in early January. Dozens of high school students from around the state received their challenge to design, build, program and test a robot within six weeks. 

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering also designed and fabricated cell-phone holders for all student participants.

The R.B. Annis School of Engineering also designed and fabricated cell-phone holders for all student participants.

It’s all part of the INFINITE RECHARGE FIRST RISE℠, powered by Star Wars: Force for Change, a worldwide challenge for young inventors to test their mettle and collaborative skills, organized locally by IndianaFIRST. R. B. Annis School of Engineering faculty and students provided presentations, met with students, and offered a VR experience of the newly-released game field. 

At Saturday’s Kickoff, teams were shown the INFINITE RECHARGE game field and challenge details for the first time, and received the Kickoff Kit of Parts, which is made up of motors, batteries, control system components, construction materials, and a mix of additional automation components. With limited instructions students, working with experienced mentors, have about six weeks to create their robots to meet the new 2020 season’s engineering challenge. Once the teams build a robot, students will participate in one or more of the Indiana district events that measure the effectiveness of each robot, the power of collaboration, and the determination of students.

New challenging game elements in the game INFINITE RECHARGE make for a complicated strategy with many options. INFINITE RECHARGE has high school robotics team students around the world eager to capture a championship. After the game was revealed Saturday, students immediately began brain-storming and drawing up initial designs for robots that will compete at several events this season. Teams have about 6 weeks to build their robots before the competition season begins.

During the FIRST build season, multiple UIndy faculty, staff, and students assist local FIRST teams with their robots, including the fabrication of parts using the R. B. Annis School of Engineering’s fabrication facilities.

More than 250 students graduate at University of Indianapolis December 2019 Commencement

The University of Indianapolis held its December Commencement Ceremony on Saturday before a capacity crowd in Ransburg Auditorium.

More than 260 students graduated from the University of Indianapolis in December, including 198 undergraduates, 56 graduate and 7 doctoral students. The total number of University of Indianapolis graduates for 2019 (May, August and December combined) stands at 1,534 students, with 1,030 undergraduate, 371 graduate, and 133 doctoral students. Graduates from 2019 hail from 25 countries.

President Rob L. Manuel encouraged graduates to pursue great ideas through community-building, service and passion.

“You are now and forever will be a part of our story. You are now part of the UIndy quilt – a tapestry woven together over more than 110 years,” Manuel said.

The ceremony included a full academic procession, performances by Department of Music students and the National Anthem performed by Brionna Coats ’23 (music).

Emily Slaven, University of Indianapolis 2019 Teacher of the Year, will provide the Commencement address. Slaven is an associate professor in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, where she serves as director of the Orthopedic Residency Program.

Dr. Slaven sent graduates off with three pieces of advice: Be proud of their accomplishment and do not undervalue the time and effort that went into graduation; find something you are passionate about and work toward it; and to give back and help the community.

Student speaker Eric Kabuthia ’19 (Master of Arts, international relations) reflected on what he deemed the greatest lesson he learned at UIndy: learning to unapologetically be yourself.

“UIndy is the place where you become more, the place where you become ready to face the world, this is the place where you emerge you,” said Kabuthia.

Indianapolis student earns prestigious Richard G. Lugar award

RoseSchnabelRose Schnabel will receive the $1,000 award on Saturday, Dec. 7, during the 43rd annual Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders at Ransburg Auditorium at the University of Indianapolis. The event gathers more than 400 of Indiana’s top high school juniors at the University for an expert discussion on pressing public issues and world events. Mr. Steve Inskeep, a native Hoosier and host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, will deliver the keynote address.

“I am honored to receive the 2019 Distinguished Student Leadership Award,” said Schnabel, who will give a short acceptance speech at the symposium. “Hearing from other Hoosier teenagers about their communities at the 2018 Symposium helped me to reflect on my own community and ways I could improve it. This award gives me support to continue working towards my goal of promoting healthy eating in the chronic disease community.”

The highly competitive award honors students for academic success, leadership and a proven commitment to serving others. Each applicant must complete an application and draft an essay on one of three topics. Schnabel chose to describe how she has used innovation and collaboration, two hallmarks of a good leader as identified by Senator Lugar, to create new solutions to complex problems.

In her essay, Schnabel discussed her experience creating a mobile application that serves as a recipe and nutrition guide for people affected by chronic disease. What started as a small project to help her grandmother, Schnabel soon realized her work could help others. She taught herself to code, consulted with chefs about healthy eating and designed the user interface for the app herself before launching it within her school community.

Ken McDaniel, the girls’ soccer head coach at the International School of Indiana, wrote in the award application about Schnabel: “Rose has shown an ability to establish an excellent rapport with a variety of constituents, including teammates, coaches, students and administrators. She is genuinely interested in helping others reach their goals in a positive and helpful manner.”

The activities in which Schnabel is involved include:

  •     Model United Nations, Head Delegate
  •     Spanish Honor Society, Co-president
  •     Varsity Tennis and Soccer, Team Captain
  •     Indiana University School of Adolescent Medicine Advisory Board
  •     United Way volunteer
  •     Project STEM Intern at Eli Lilly & Co.

About the Lugar Academy

More than 20,000 promising students have participated in the Lugar Symposium during the past 40 years, gaining wisdom, insight and access to some of the finest minds available. Principals from every high school in Indiana are asked to select three outstanding student leaders from their junior class to attend the Symposium. Sen. Richard G. Lugar (April 4, 1932 – April 28, 2019) served as a Distinguished Trustee, a former professor of political science and received an honorary degree from the University of Indianapolis, among 46 colleges and universities which bestowed Lugar with the same honor during his lifetime. Lugar was a fifth-generation Hoosier who left the United States Senate as the longest-serving member of Congress in Indiana history. The symposium that bears his name was launched in 1977 as an opportunity to discuss with students topics of local and global importance.

UIndy’s live mascot program returns

Grady the Greyhound, UIndy's third live mascot in school historyThere’s a new hound in town! The University of Indianapolis introduced its new live mascot, Grady the Greyhound, on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. 

Grady, a two-year-old retired racer adopted from Florida, joins Ace the mascot to increase spirit and pride throughout the entire University community.

His debut marks the first time in nearly 40 years since the last live mascot, “Timothy O’Toole,” proudly represented UIndy (then known as Indiana Central University). Grady is the third live mascot in school history.

Grady’s full name is C. Greyson Veritas, a nod to the school colors of crimson and grey, and the Latin word for “truth,” which formed part of the University seal when it was known as Indiana Central College (as part of the saying, “Truth through faith and science.”)

Visit to learn more about the live mascot program and to see Grady’s upcoming schedule of events.

The University of Indianapolis is grateful to the Indianapolis chapter of the Greyhound Pets of America for their assistance throughout the adoption process. 

Jessica Parra ’20 chosen for Axis Leadership Program

Jessica Parra '20

Jessica Parra ’20

University of Indianapolis senior Jessica Parra was recently named as part of the Axis Leadership Program’s 2020 cohort. Parra will graduate in May 2020 with a double major in political science and Spanish, a minor in international relations and a concentration in multilingual translation.

Axis is an eight-month leadership program designed for Latino professionals between the ages of 21-28 to develop personally and professionally and to prepare them to engage with civic and community leadership activities. Upon completion, Axis participants will be equipped and prepared to unify, transform and serve the community.

The program is a partnership between the City of Indianapolis and Indiana Latino Expo. Class members are chosen through a competitive process based on their community involvement, personal vision and achievement.

“I am so grateful to be chosen as a participant for the 2020 Axis Leadership Program,” said Parra. “I believe that this experience will allow me to grow professionally and further my involvement within the Latino community here in Indianapolis.”

About the program
The concept of the Axis Leadership Program began as part of Mayor Hogsett’s Latino Advisory Council as a significant lack of Latino leadership was noted within the Indianapolis community. This program was a dream of many long-standing Latino leaders including Former Advisory Council member Carmen DeRusha, whose unrelenting leadership to see a leadership program come to fruition inspired the leadership team to develop the Axis Leadership Program.

Axis is led by a six-person leadership team: Gloria Jimenez, Jordan Rodriguez, Yecenia Tostado, Guadalupe Pimentel Solano, Angela Brito de Rodriguez and Fabio Yataco.

UIndy students faculty and alumni aid in relocation of Bethel Cemetery


A University of Indianapolis faculty-alumni collaboration played a major role in the relocation of a 19th-century cemetery near the Indianapolis International Airport. When land was acquired by the airport for a stormwater project in 2018, it necessitated the relocation of Bethel Cemetery, which dated back to 1838. This project entailed the exhumation and relocation of the remains of approximately 500 people to Concordia Cemetery in Indianapolis.

The project was a joint effort led by UIndy alumnus Ryan Peterson ‘96 (anthropology, biology), Christopher Schmidt, University of Indianapolis professor of anthropology, and faculty from IUPUI. Schmidt was contacted by the Indianapolis Airport Authority after they learned of his work on the “Grave in the Road” project in 2016. The community outreach component of that project was a factor in the Airport Authority’s decision to bring the University of Indianapolis on board for the cemetery relocation.

At the beginning of the project in May 2018, UIndy students participated in an archaeology field school that Schmidt directed. “The field school students, as well as some of the current and former graduate students, made up a significant number of field and lab crew for this project,” Schmidt said.

MacKenzie Vermillion ‘20 (anthropology and molecular biology major, archaeology minor) was one of the students who participated in Schmidt’s field school. “It played a huge role in the success of the project because it taught us the necessary skills when dealing with the exhumation of bones,” Vermillion said. “The course included learning how to identify burial features, identify human bones, and how to properly uncover the remains without causing damage. Overall the field school was extremely helpful and equipped me with the necessary tools I will use throughout my career.”


The process of exhumation and relocation was a complicated one that involved coordination from all parties. First, the surface of the cemetery was stripped using heavy equipment while trained spotters were on the lookout for grave shafts. Once a shaft was exposed, archaeologists removed the sediment from the shafts and exposed the remains. The remains were 3D-imaged on-site, then moved to a lab on the airport grounds for cleaning. It was then that the remains were taken to the universities for osteological study.

The team completed skeletal analysis in spring 2019 and all remains were returned to the airport laboratory by June 2019, with the reburial taking place in September. Each set of individual remains was put in a new concrete vault and placed in the same relative position it had in the original cemetery. In addition, those individuals whose headstones had been lost over time had a new headstone made acknowledging their presence, although unfortunately most of those people’s identities remain unknown.

The process was not without some surprises for the archaeologists and researchers along the way. Schmidt noted how the suit one individual was buried in was still discernible even many decades after death. “I was also surprised at how decorated many of the caskets were,” Schmidt said. “We picture historic cemeteries as being very humble, but many of the people at Bethel had large headstones and/or elaborate and beautifully decorated caskets. These people were likely from a farming community, but several families spent generously on the graves of their deceased loved ones.”

There was a rededication ceremony at Concordia Cemetery for the graves that had been moved. “It was a lovely service that celebrated the many lives represented by the cemetery,” Schmidt said. “For the veterans, ‘Taps’ was played and salutes were fired by military, law enforcement and re-enactment color guards.” In addition to affording those veterans this honor, the archaeological team took great care to show them respect while they were in the field. All of those individuals had their remains covered with an American flag in the field, and they were given a police escort whenever they were transported.


“The size of the project was amazing; it is by far the largest excavation effort I have ever been a part of,” Schmidt said. “Moreover, doing all this in one year was a challenge, but everyone did their jobs and it worked perfectly.”

For the students involved, it was challenging but also a fulfilling and rewarding experience. “Each person, when excavating, is responsible for the burial they are working on. There were, of course, professors and other more experienced archaeologists if we ever needed help, but the students still played a major role in the excavations,” Vermillion said. “It was a learning experience, and anytime we experienced challenges we came together as a team and handled it. Everyone present was always willing to help one another out!”

According to Schmidt, this was a completely unique experience for the UIndy students who were involved because there had never been such a large cemetery moved archaeologically in the State of Indiana. 

“The students involved in this project truly did something special. We don’t have experiences like this available every year.” Schmidt said. “But when we do, they not only give us an opportunity to learn or study, but also to help students develop a sense of reverence for the deceased. We treat all remains we excavate and/or study with the utmost respect, and it is important that the students improve their professional skills, but also develop proper ethics as well.”

Vermillion and other students, throughout the collaborative process, were appreciative of the opportunity to be trained in a bio-archaeological context as well as learning from other professionals. Moreover, the project allowed the students to experience practical application of what they have learned in the classroom, as well as how the work that they do can provide meaning in a real-world context.

“Handling human remains was a humbling experience,” Vermillion said. “One of our biggest rules is to treat these individuals with the utmost care and to help preserve them. Working in this context continues to remind me and my peers of our humanity and how we should be treated: with respect.”


Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis receives $7.9M federal grant

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis is the recipient of a $7.9 million grant as part of the federal Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. CELL will establish a Rural Early College Network (RECN) to help rural Indiana schools more quickly implement the Early College (EC) high school model. Early College targets underserved students and allows them to earn both high school diplomas and up to two years of credits toward bachelor’s or associate degrees through rigorous dual credit classes supported by wrap-around services.

“CELL is delighted to be awarded this significant funding to assist our rural Indiana high schools with accelerated implementation of high-quality Early College programs. The project will offer rural students, many of whom are first-generation college students, opportunities to take rigorous college-level classes while in high school in supportive environments that help ensure their success,” said CELL Executive Director Janet Boyle. “Another anticipated outcome is the establishment of model rural Early College high school sites and a template for fostering additional high-quality Early College programs serving even more students throughout Indiana.”

The University of Indianapolis was the only Indiana grantee among the most recent round of Education Innovation and Research funding, which included 41 grants awarded out of 287 applications. Spread over five years, the grant funding through CELL’s leadership will support faster implementation of the EC model by networking new schools with mentor schools that have earned endorsement for high levels of effectiveness. 

Partnerships with local businesses will help update curricula, develop work-based learning experiences and incorporate Work Ethics Certificate requirements. Five current EC schools will follow a tiered process to eventually mentor 15 new schools. That network will grow the number of high-need students to 3,725 who will benefit from an EC jump-start on postsecondary education by gaining confidence through counseling and support. 

Each mentor school will receive $190,000 over five years, and each new school in the initial tier will receive $150,000 over that period. Schools will use funding for credentialing staff to teach dual credit courses, professional development, student supports, program resources and travel to required meetings. CELL will contribute a ten-percent match ($877,380) of the total cost of the project with the grant providing 90 percent of the total or $7,963,436.

About CELL
The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis provides leadership that is both cutting-edge and action-oriented. Created in 2001, CELL unites districts, schools, communities, universities and businesses to build a sense of urgency and form innovative collaborations for statewide educational and economic improvement. CELL currently has a network of 90 high schools across the state trained in the Early College model and in varying degrees of implementation. Thirty-one schools have earned the distinction of being named fully endorsed Early College high schools. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has authorized CELL as the sole organization to train, support and endorse Early College schools in Indiana. Learn more:

About the grant
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced $123 million in new grant awards to 41 school districts, nonprofit organizations and state educational agencies across the United States as part of the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program. These grants provide funding to create, implement or take to scale an evidence-based innovation to improve academic achievement for high-need students, and for a rigorous evaluation so that others may learn from its results.

In addition to promoting innovation, the awards include over $30 million to eight grantees serving rural areas and over $78 million to 29 grantees focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The EIR program is authorized under Section 4611 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, and is administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

About the University of Indianapolis
The University of Indianapolis, founded in 1902, is a private university located just a few minutes from downtown Indianapolis. The University is ranked among the top National Universities by U.S. News and World Report, with a diverse enrollment of nearly 6,000 undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. The University offers a wide variety of study areas, including 100+ undergraduate degrees, more than 40 master’s degree programs and five doctoral programs. More occupational therapists, physical therapists and clinical psychologists graduate from the University each year than any other state institution. With strong programs in engineering, business and education, the University of Indianapolis impacts its community by living its motto, “Education for Service.” Learn more:


Laura Santurri to run 100 miles for the hounds

Never have you met a University of Indianapolis professor so truly dedicated to the University’s mascot until you have met Laura Santurri, the chair of the Department of Interprofessional Health & Aging Studies and director of the Doctor of Health Science Program. Santurri is willing to run 100 miles in 30 hours in order to raise money to support retired greyhound dogs. Her love for greyhounds comes from her own two rescue greyhounds, Sara and Ben, as well as her time working at UIndy. Santurri will run the Indiana Trail 100 this month to raise $1,000—enough to provide 10 greyhounds transportation by Victory Lap Greyhound Transport to new forever homes.

The Indiana Trail 100 will be held October 12-13 at Chain O’Lakes State Park in Albion, Indiana. About two years ago, Santurri became an Ultra Runner by completing her first 50K race. Since then she has completed two 40-mile races and one 50-mile race. This will be her first attempt at a 100-mile race.

“It will definitely be a challenge,” Santurri said. “But I have always found that fundraising alongside participating in an ultra-race makes the experience more meaningful.”

Laura Santurri's greyhounds

Laura Santurri’s greyhounds

On her Victory Lap fundraising page, Santurri explains why, for this particular race, she has chosen The Victory Lap Greyhound Transport as her cause: 

“Fundraising while running races began for me about six years ago, when my husband was diagnosed with chronic leukemia, and I joined the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I’ve found that raising funds for a good cause while running races makes everything more meaningful for me. Dog rescue is a cause near and dear to my heart. I have a pack of dogs for a family (six rescues, two of whom are retired greyhounds), and while I don’t have room to adopt any more at the moment, I’d love to do my part to help other greyhounds find and get to a good home. And that makes me love what Victory Lap does.”

If you wish to support Santurri in fundraising for The Victory Lap Greyhound Transport, you can do so here. If you choose to donate, click on “A Ticket Home”, enter your information (and make sure to enter “Laura’s run” in the “in honor of” box), and then click Donate.

Story contributed by DPT student Annabelle Hearn.


Cultural forum focuses on suicide prevention

The 2019 West Meets East Forum on Friday, October 11 at the University of Indianapolis will facilitate an important discussion about the experience of suicide & suicide prevention across cultures.

west meets east

Suicide remains a global social and public health concern responsible for approximately 800,000 deaths annually, according to the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.

“The Forum will provide an educational experience that goes beyond suicide prevention training,” explained event organizer and Assistant Professor of Social Work Melissa Ketner. “It will allow students, faculty, practitioners, and community partners to assemble for experiential learning and development.”

Sponsored by the Phylis Lan Lin Department of Social Work, the West Meets East Forum provides cross-cultural engagement and training that invites interdisciplinary collaboration and community interactions.

This year’s event will engage the School of Nursing, Department of Sociology and the Center for Global Engagement, along with community partners such as Community Health Network, and statewide leaders representing the Indiana State Suicide Prevention Network, the Indiana Department of Education, and other agencies and organizations.

The event is free to attend. Qualifying participants will be eligible for continuing education units (CEU), and LP credit will be available for students.

Learn about other events happening during UIndy’s International Education Month

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