University of Indianapolis professor explores Midwestern winery boom in new book

If you’ve ever dreamed of quitting your job to start a winery, you’ll first want to read Jim Pennell’s Local Vino: The Winery Boom in the Heartland.

Local Vino: The Winery Boom in the Heartland by Prof. James Pennell will be available in stores March 6, 2017.

Local Vino: The Winery Boom in the Heartland by Prof. James Pennell will be available in stores March 6, 2017.

Pennell, a professor of sociology at the University of Indianapolis and Co-Director of the Community Research Center, explores the challenges and rewards of operating a winery in his new book published by the University of Illinois Press. Now in his 19th year teaching at the University of Indianapolis, Pennell specializes in social and institutional change, organizations and work, social theory and qualitative research methods.

“I wanted to honor the winery owners. They’ve done an amazing thing,” said Pennell, who spent five years chronicling the success of Midwestern wineries in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Ohio. He visited 64 wineries in the course of his research.
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Sociology professor weighs in on sin across America



Indianapolis doesn’t break the list of the top 50 most sinful cities in America, but defining bad behavior can vary greatly across the country, according to a recent study posted to

UIndy’s Dr. Amanda Miller, associate professor of sociology, was one of several experts polled in the study as it looked at people behaving badly in the 150 most populated U.S. cities. The study ranked cities in categories ranging from “excessive drinking” to “violent crimes per capita” and asked several academics to help explain why some behavior is viewed more negatively based on local culture.

As the results indicate, not all American vices are created equally. Read the full article.

Using arts to improve the quality of life of older adults

The University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community (CAC) has received a $600,000 contract from the Indiana State Department of Health to design, implement, and coordinate a project that will improve the quality of life of older adults living in long-term care facilities through the use of the arts.

The Expressive Arts in Long Term Care project will educate long term care professionals in best practices for using visual art, dance, drama, music, writing/memoir in individual and group settings for residents living in long-term care facilities.

“We have assembled an outstanding team of faculty for this project,” said CAC Senior Projects Director Ellen Burton, MPH. “The arts are a key way to enhance the quality of life for older adults, especially those living in nursing facilities. By focusing on the wide spectrum of the expressive arts, we can help Indiana’s long-term care facilities offer meaningful experiences to their residents.”

CAC will host a total of six training workshops around the state, each four days in length. Faculty for the Expressive Arts in Long-Term Care project include:

  • Visual Art: Sarah Tirey, BFA, Associate Adjunct Faculty of Art & Design, University of Indianapolis
  • Dance: Heidi Fledderjohn, MA, BC-DMT, RYT, Dance/Movement Therapist, Facilitator and Teacher, Know Wonder, St. Vincent Health, Still Waters Adult Day Center
  • Drama: Sally Bailey, MFA, MSW, RDT/BCT, Professor of Theater and Gerontology and Director of the Drama Therapy, Kansas State University
  • Music: Rebecca Sorley, DA, Professor of Music, Director of Student Support, and Coordinator of the Music Business Concentration, University of Indianapolis
  • Writing and Memoir: Katharine Houpt, MAAT, ATR, LCPC, director of an expressive arts therapy program at a nursing facility in Illinois

The first workshop is scheduled to take place in Indianapolis November 14-16 and November 29, 2016. The cost is $100 for the four days. Long-term care professionals interested in registering may do so here.

Five additional workshops will be scheduled and held throughout the state. Each workshop is limited to 50 participants. There will also be two “train-the-trainer” workshops, two-day sessions developed to ensure sustainability for the teaching of expressive arts beyond the scope of this project.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders to speak Sept. 29

Joycelyn_Elders_official_photo_portraitThe first University Series event this semester will feature former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders as part of UIndy’s 2016 Katherine Ratliff Symposium.

“Dr. Joycelyn Elders: Healthcare Issues in the Minority Community” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, September 29, in Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center’s Ruth Lilly Performance Hall. This free event is open to the public and L/P credit is available to UIndy students. Online registration is requested. Symposium Workshops will take place on Friday, September 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Panelists from multiple disciplines will discuss current health care disparities and what can be done to address these issues. Visit this page to register for the Friday workshop. For questions about the symposium, please contact Heini Seo at

Dr. Elders was the first African American woman to hold the position of U.S. Surgeon General. She was known for her outspoken views and she served only 15 months before being forced to resign in 1994 as a result of her controversial remark about sex education. She is currently a professor emerita of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The Katherine Ratliff Memorial Conference on Ethics, Values and Human Responsibility was established in memory of Dr. Katharine G. “Kate” Ratliff. Dr. Ratliff was a University of Indianapolis faculty member from 1985 through 1990. She was a licensed clinical psychologist and taught psychology courses in the Department of Behavioral Sciences.  She was a tireless advocate for her students and clients and embodied a commitment to social justice and social responsibility.

In the news: Sociology, Education, Poli Sci

Miller on Aussie TVDr. Amanda Miller‘s research on relationships continues to gain attention — even “down under.”

Miller, associate professor of Sociology, was interviewed via satellite recently for The Morning Show, which is, not suprisingly, a morning show on Australian TV’s Seven Network. She and the perky hosts discussed how sharing household chores can help heat up the romance between domestic partners. Watch the clip



Dr. Nancy Steffel, professor in the School of Education, penned an opinion column for the latest issue of The Costco Connection, the nation’s largest-circulation monthly print publication, with 8.5 million subscribers in the U.S. and 13 million readers worldwide.

For a regular point-counterpoint feature in the magazine, Steffel took the “no” side of the question “Should homework be eliminated in elementary school?” She stressed, however, that homework for young kids is most effective as a family activity that demonstrates the relevance of the schoolwork. Her nuanced response can be read at this link.



Dr. Laura Albright, assistant professor of Political Science, has become one of central Indiana’s most sought-after political analysts, averaging multiple TV and radio interviews each day during the recent Republican and Democratic national conventions. Outside the local media, she spoke recently with The Atlantic magazine for a story headlined “America’s Next Chief Executive?”

And today, Albright was featured again nationally through “The Academic Minute,” a daily audio essay that airs throughout New England via the WAMC public radio network and also appears in the popular Inside Higher Ed e-newsletter. She spoke about one of her favorite research subjects, former Alabama Gov. Lurleen Wallace, and her niche in the history of women in American politics. Listen here

VIDEO: UIndy marks Commencement 2016

Despite a few sprinkles, UIndy successfully conducted its 2016 Commencement exercises Saturday, May 7, at Key Stadium.

NPR Morning Edition host and Carmel native Steve Inskeep delivered an inspirational address and called up a student volunteer to present his honorary diploma to his mother in the audience. Singer-actress Jearlyn Steele sang a cappella tributes to her hero Aretha Franklin and her late friend and collaborator Prince. Local developer and philanthropist Gene Zink joined them in receiving an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

The Class of 2016 was represented by undergraduate speaker Zak Mitiche, a double major in sociology and philosophy, and graduate student speaker Maria Eller, who received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

Nearly 1,400 graduates hailing from 30 states and 29 nations have completed or will complete degrees this year on UIndy’s home campus. Another 79 are receiving diplomas at UIndy’s international partnership sites.

Click above to see video highlights from Saturday’s ceremony. For more photos and video, visit this page and see UIndy’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

UIndy undergrad lands Fulbright scholarship

Sociology/philosophy major will study pro-democracy movement in Morocco



UIndy senior Ahmed “Zak” Mitiche was getting a sandwich Wednesday in Schwitzer Student Center when he checked his email.

“I was ecstatic, I was shocked, all of those things,” says the Pike High School graduate, a double major in Sociology and Philosophy.

The long-awaited news was that Mitiche had been awarded a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and seems to be the first University of Indianapolis student to do so in the institution’s century-plus history.

Recipients of the prestigious State Department-funded honor, according to his award letter, have gone on to become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists and teachers. They have included 54 Nobel Laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 29 MacArthur Fellows and 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.

“It’s exciting to think about myself among the ranks of these great people who have done something amazing in the world,” says Mitiche, who will turn 22 on Wednesday. “I try to be realistic. I know this will bring me opportunities when I apply to grad schools.”

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Learn about grad programs at April 20 fair

Current and prospective students alike are invited to learn about University of Indianapolis graduate programs during the Grad Fair on Wednesday, April 20.

The event provides an opportunity to visit campus, meet instructors, learn about the admissions process and ask questions about the university’s five doctoral programs and nearly 40 master’s programs.

The fair is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. April 20 in the atrium of Schwitzer Student Center.

UIndy’s doctoral programs include degrees in Health Science, Nursing Practice, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Clinical Psychology. Master’s degree offerings include programs in health sciences, public health, athletic training, social work, education and the humanities, as well as MBA programs in several formats, three new specialties in Psychology and new Master of Professional Studies programs in Real Estate Development & Construction Management and Human Resource Development & Administration.

To register or learn more, visit

In the news: Sociology, Business, Music



In what may be a UIndy record, Dr. Amanda Miller of the Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice has been cited in the The New York Times for the second time this academic year.

“Why Women Proposing Is Still Rare” reads the headline of the Leap Year-inspired story, which appeared online last week and in Sunday’s print edition of the iconic newspaper.

“When women ask men, there’s no script for how they are supposed to react,” Associate Professor Miller told writer Alix Strauss. “From our research, many men said having a woman propose to them wouldn’t feel right.”

Read the story here

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Dr. Terry Schindler of UIndy’s School of Business was a key source for a recent NUVO Newsweekly cover story about consumers using their clout to encourage ethical behavior by corporations.

“What determines business ethics is social ethics,” said Schindler, associate professor of management. “Every ethical dilemma starts with a cost/benefit analysis: What does it cost me to do what’s right or wrong?”

Read the story here

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Last week’s unusual Faculty Artist Series concert at UIndy drew praise from longtime local arts critic Jay Harvey on his Jay Harvey Upstage blog.

“Science, Math & Music” was the theme of the Feb. 22 event, a collaboration between the Department of Music and the Ronen Chamber Ensemble. The program, which illustrated parallels between music and such concepts as the Fibonacci sequence and Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, included a new work composed by Associate Professor John Berners and some scholarly narration delivered by Dr. Stephen Spicklemire, chair of the Department of Physics & Earth-Space Science.

Read the review here

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