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Video: Texas migrant project has deep impact

A compelling, self-produced video illustrates the human impact of the work performed by a UIndy student-faculty forensic science team earlier this month in southern Texas.

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Biology Krista Latham and five students volunteered to spend nearly two weeks in the oppressive heat exhuming the remains of undocumented migrants who have died after crossing the border, in hopes that someday the remains can be identified and returned to their families.

The project — part of a collaboration with Baylor and Texas State universities — has sparked runaway news coverage during the past few days, as well as talk of government investigations into the burial practices. Unfortunately, much of the reporting has been sensationalized and misleading from a scientific standpoint.

On the other hand, the 10-minute short film — edited by Human Biology master’s candidate Ryan Strand from footage shot by him and his colleagues — offers an unflinching but thoughtful firsthand look into the project’s intent and its impact on the students, the local community and the broader issue of this ongoing border crisis.

The video also is posted at the group’s blog,, which features other videos, photos and moving journal entries written by the team members, who also include recent graduate Cheneta Morrison and grad students Jessica CampbellErica Christensen and Justin Maiers.

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News: Science prof discusses love of teaching



Dr. John Langdon, veteran professor of biology and anthropology at UIndy, was the focus of the “Hot Jobs” interview in Sunday’s Indianapolis Star.

The weekly feature explores careers on the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s Hoosier Hot 50 jobs list, where postsecondary teaching ranks sixth.

Langdon, who has taught for three decades at UIndy and also serves as director of student and faculty research initiatives, says teaching is “in my blood.” He also makes interesting observations about the distinction between research and teaching careers in higher education.

Read the interview here.

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On the air: Anthropologist on Indian imagery



Professor Gregory Reinhardt, chair of UIndy’s Department of Anthropology, was featured on Wisconsin Public Radio last week discussing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to rescind federal trademark protection for the Washington Redskins.

Dr. Reinhardt has a particular interest in the depictions of Native Americans found throughout our culture, and he maintains a large collection of examples. He is currently writing a book, Arresting Indian Imagery: Property, Magic, and Proxy in Visual Fantasies of Indianness.

As he explained in his 20-minute interview with WPR’s Central Time public affairs show, he opposes the careless use of Indian references in pop culture and the term “redskin” in particular. Listen to the interview here.

Reinhardt detailed his stance on the issue in this opinion column below:

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Groundbreaking touts power of partnership

HP shovels

Elected officials, UIndy faculty and project partners turn dirt Thursday morning to launch construction of the new Health Pavilion at Hanna and State avenues.

UIndy Health Pavilion, view from northwest, courtesy CSO Architects

UIndy Health Pavilion, view from northwest, courtesy CSO Architects

WTHR 6:30 a.m.
WTHR noon
Indy Star
NUVO Newsweekly
Inside Indiana Business
University Business

A host of city and state dignitaries were on hand this morning as the University of Indianapolis broke ground on its four-story, $28 million Health Pavilion, which will be the new home for the health- and wellness-related academic programs that account for more than half of UIndy’s 5,400 undergraduate and graduate students.

University President Robert Manuel thanked the many officials and business partners in attendance for their contributions to the project.

“What we’re celebrating today is about relationships and about our connection to the city,” he said. “We’ve always been a university of and for Indianapolis, and I am so grateful to everyone here today for their advice, for their creativity and for their efforts in designing what will be an incredible academic and community center in Indianapolis.”

President Manuel and Mayor Ballard

President Manuel and Mayor Ballard

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard noted that the Health Pavilion — for which the city awarded $900,000 in federal grant funding to purchase specialized equipment — continues a pattern of city-campus collaboration that included the reconstruction of Hanna Avenue.

“Great neighborhoods are built around great anchors,” Ballard said. “We have that here … with the University of Indianapolis.”

“Today’s groundbreaking represents more than just the addition of a great new building on campus,” he continued. “As UIndy invests to make its campus more attractive to students, it is making this area more inviting to new residents and making the city a better place to live.”

Other speakers at Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony included Metropolitan Development Director Adam Thies, State Rep. Justin Moed, City-County Councilor Jefferson Shreve and representatives from the offices of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson and U.S. Sens. Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly.

Opening in August 2015, the 160,000-square-foot Health Pavilion will be the new home for UIndy’s nationally respected programs in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, kinesiology, athletic training and social work, as well as the Center for Aging & Community. State-of-the-art labs, classrooms, and meeting areas are designed to promote multidisciplinary collaboration, research, and the development of new academic programs. Sharing the space will be healthcare industry partners and clinical facilities that will serve the community while providing hands-on experience for students.

Today’s groundbreaking ceremony included two special announcements. First, a $250,000 gift from the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation will help to equip and support programming in the Health Pavilion’s 140-seat auditorium. Also, UIndy has been selected to operate, from this new space, the Metropolitan Indianapolis/Central Indiana Area Health Education Center, part of a statewide network that recruits and prepares healthcare professionals to work in underserved Indiana communities.

The Health Pavilion, a major step forward in the revitalization of University Heights and surrounding neighborhoods, is part of UIndy’s five-year, $50 million development initiative.

HP - camerasThe Health Pavilion groundbreaking ceremony attracted crews from all four Indianapolis commercial TV stations, among other journalists.

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Greyhound athletes lead the pack — again

Wrapping up the 2013-2014 sports seasons, University of Indianapolis student-athletes again have proven themselves top performers in competition as well as in the classroom.

UIndy logo (with dog)-201&blkFor the third year in a row, the Greyhounds lead the Great Lakes Valley Conference with 223 Academic All-GLVC selections, 15 more than the nearest program on the list announced Monday. Three UIndy teams topped their sports: men’s soccer with 16 honorees, women’s swimming and diving with 16, and men’s swimming and diving with 19.

Also this year, the Greyhounds earned their highest-ever finish in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, which award points based on each institution’s finish in up to 14 sports: seven women’s and seven men’s. UIndy placed fourth out of 312 Division II institutions, becoming one of only five D-II schools to post three consecutive Top 10 finishes.

In May came news that UIndy had captured its first GLVC Commissioner’s Cup, a traveling trophy awarded for success in the seven core conference championship sports: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, softball and women’s volleyball.

And we’re not done yet. The Greyhounds also claimed this year’s GLVC All-Sports Trophy, awarded for best all-around performance in the league’s 20 sponsored sports. This was another third-straight award for UIndy and its sixth All-Sports Trophy overall.

What’s next? Well, depending on the outcome of the D-I Directors’ Cup standings, to be announced June 27, UIndy is on track to be the highest-ranked athletic program in Indiana for the sixth time in the past seven years. Keep your eye on for updates.

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5K at UIndy to support anti-trafficking efforts

RunforOne2014The UIndy campus will host this weekend’s fourth annual Run for One 5K Walk/Run, organized by the local organization Purchased to support its efforts to combat human trafficking.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday on Smith Mall, with the race starting at 9 a.m. The fee is $20 for individuals, $30 per family or $60 for a team of five. Prizes and raffle winners will be announced at the end of the race. You can register here or find more information here.

Purchased is an Indianapolis-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit public charity that raises awareness on global and local issues of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, which it calls “modern-day slavery.” One of those volunteers is UIndy Assistant Professor Lisa Elwood, director of clinical training for the School of Psychological Sciences, who is a member of the Run for One event committee.



Elwood also serves on the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans task force, a federally funded effort co-chaired by the local U.S. Attorney’s Office and the state Office of the Attorney General. IPATH provides services to victims of trafficking as well as resources and training to help police and others identify and rescue victims. Among other activities, she is assisting IPATH and Purchased with research into the effectiveness of their work.

UIndy’s anti-trafficking student organization, Keys, also has collaborated with Purchased. UIndy Co-Chaplain Jeremiah Gibbs, the staff sponsor of Keys, will welcome guests and deliver an invocation at Saturday’s event.

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Prof’s writing probes politics of language

You’ve probably never heard of the pidgin language Camfranglais, but it is gradually changing cultural and political life in the west central African Republic of Cameroon, ruled for more than three decades by the same authoritarian president.



A combination of French, English and indigenous languages, Camfranglais plays a central role in two books published this past year by Assistant Professor Peter Wuteh Vakunta, a native of Cameroon who teaches French in UIndy’s Department of Modern Languages.

One work, published in December by the Cameroon-based Langaa Research and Publishing, is an anthology of Vakunta’s poems in the language titled Speak Camfranglais pour un Renouveau Onglais, which translates to Speak Camfranglais for a Cameroonian Renewal.

“It’s a hybrid language started by high school students who wanted to speak about things that are not entirely polite, so the school officials and their parents would not understand,” Vakunta explains. “This is no longer just a language of the streets. It has now become a language of literature.”

It is also a language of resistance, despite its roots in the post-World War I colonization of the area by the British and French. Since surfacing in the 1970s, Camfranglais has become a channel by which artists and activists can evade government censorship and speak to the common people.

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Education MBA announces inaugural fellows

WW Ed MBA w-GovAttending Monday’s announcement at the Statehouse were (from left) UIndy Business Dean Karl Knapp, Associate Professor Rachel Smith, incoming fellow Sarah Hunter of Zionsville schools, Gov. Mike Pence, incoming fellow Dominic Day of Wayne Township schools and Associate Professor John Somers.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was on hand Monday for the announcement of the inaugural class of UIndy’s Woodrow Wilson MBA Fellowship in Education Leadership.

UIndy is one of just two institutions selected by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to pilot the program in advance of a broader national rollout. The first 15 fellows — professional educators nominated by their district leaders — are starting the intensive 13-month program this summer. Faculty from UIndy’s School of Education and School of Business collaborated to design the curriculum, which gives educators the skills to face today’s challenging education landscape.

Each fellow receives a $50,000 stipend and agrees, upon completion of the program, to serve in a leadership role in an Indiana school, charter organization, or district for at least three years, with foundation-supported coaching. The program essentially allows local school districts to cultivate new leaders from within their ranks.

Read the original program announcement here.

Read the latest announcement from the foundation here.

The members of UIndy’s inaugural cohort of Woodrow Wilson Indiana MBA Fellows in Education Leadership are:

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Texas update: Heat, cameras and desperation


On the job at Sacred Heart Burial Park

WISH-TV, Indianapolis
WGBT-TV, Harlingen, TX

As their blog makes clear, UIndy’s Dr. Krista Latham and her student team of forensic scientists are hard at work in the south Texas heat this week, continuing their humanitarian mission of exhuming remains in hope of identifying and repatriating migrants and refugees who have died after crossing the border.

“This heat is real, and every day migrants are making the extremely real decision to brave the sun and fight their way through this environment for a better life, either for themselves or for their family,” grad student Ryan Strand wrote in one entry. “Many who have perished are found with only a small water bottle. I can’t imagine walking for more than half an hour in this environment with only that much water and without a constant source of shade.”

El Tule Ranch

Visiting El Tule Ranch

A documentary film crew was shadowing the team earlier this week. Also, accompanied by a writer from Scientific American magazine, the team toured a 13,000-acre ranch where the staff maintains a stash of water jugs for people crossing to reach a highway to Houston.

Increasingly, it seems, those trying to enter the United States illegally are not just seeking employment but in many cases fleeing gang- and drug-related violence in their central American home countries. Some are unaccompanied children. As NPR reported earlier this week, as many as 60,000 undocumented child immigrants are expected to enter the U.S. alone this year — a 10-fold jump in just three years.

Follow the UIndy team’s challenges at

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Health Pavilion groundbreaking set for June 19

UIndy Health Pavilion, view from northwest, courtesy CSO Architects

UIndy Health Pavilion, view from northwest, courtesy CSO Architects

Four-story center will transform academic programs, spark economic activity

The University of Indianapolis will break ground June 19 on a four-story, $28 million Health Pavilion that will house UIndy’s healthcare- and wellness-related academic programs as well as industry partners and clinical facilities to serve the community.

With indoor and outdoor amenities open to the public, the building will be a new gateway to the UIndy campus, a landmark for the University Heights neighborhood and an integrated hub where faculty, students and healthcare professionals can collaborate on education and research.

Local developer Strategic Capital Partners will construct the 156,000-square-foot building and lease space to the university for its School of Nursing, Krannert School of Physical Therapy, School of Occupational Therapy, School of Psychological Sciences, Athletic Training Program and departments of Kinesiology and Social Work – programs that account for more than half of UIndy’s 5,400-student enrollment. Designed by local firm CSO Architects, with construction to be overseen by Pepper Construction Group, the building is scheduled to open in August 2015.

President Manuel

President Manuel

UIndy is in talks with potential partners in the healthcare and mental health fields to establish operations in the building that in turn will provide clinical opportunities for students. The building also will house the university’s Psychological Services Center, in which psychology faculty and graduate students serve the community on a sliding-fee scale.

Deans and faculty members are working with the architects on interior features that will include classrooms, offices, meeting spaces, state-of-the-art simulation and research labs and informal gathering areas to promote multidisciplinary collaboration. The design will facilitate the development of new graduate programs in the vein of the Master of Public Health degree, focusing on health disparities, that UIndy is launching this fall.

The main entrance will open into a two-story atrium lobby, designed for public access with a café and adjacent outdoor plaza, social areas and a 140-seat auditorium. Near the entrance on the second floor will be interactive space for students and faculty with access to a rooftop terrace.

Ongoing development plan
The UIndy Health Pavilion is a key component of the five-year, $50 million development plan the university announced earlier this year to lay the foundation for future growth. Other elements of the plan include renovating and enhancing technology in Krannert Memorial Library, replacing the aging student apartments on Shelby Street, expanding science laboratories, launching new academic programs, hiring additional faculty, restructuring career development and advising services, forming a marching band and establishing Indiana’s first NCAA Division II men’s and women’s lacrosse teams.

“The Health Pavilion will create space to expand some of our strongest programs and strengthen our ties with the healthcare industry, which benefits students and faculty in multiple ways and makes our educational product relevant to the real world,” UIndy President Robert Manuel said. “Just as important, our overall development plan is designed to attract new economic activity that will make our part of the city a more vibrant place to live and work, not only for the campus community but also for neighboring residents and businesses.”

A groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. June 19 on the building site at the southwest corner of Hanna and State avenues. Expected guests include Mayor Greg Ballard, Department of Metropolitan Development Director Adam Thies, City-County Councilor Jefferson Shreve, State Rep. Justin Moed and representatives of U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and U.S. Rep. Andre Carson.


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