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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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Study: Program gives NFL prospects a leg up

After years of high-level competition and conditioning, what more can elite athletes do to improve their performance?



Plenty, according to a new study co-authored by Dr. Scott Lawrance, assistant professor and clinical education coordinator for UIndy’s Athletic Training Program. The key, he says, is a comprehensive approach that involves both mind and body.

The study, presented last week at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., involved pro football prospects who underwent a special program at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis to prepare them for the annual NFL Scouting Combine. The combine, which puts athletes through various physical and mental tests in front of coaches, scouts and the media, can weigh heavily on a young player’s draft status, starting salary and eventual career success.

SVSP’s NFL Pre-Combine Training Program involves not only athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches, but also sports dietitians, sports psychologists, sports medicine physicians and former NFL players who help the athletes address a broad range of physical and mental issues in order to increase their muscle mass, speed and agility. The sessions run six days a week for eight weeks each January and February.

“It’s an intense program,” says Lawrance, who worked at SVSP before joining the UIndy faculty and remains a member of its research team. “Players from all over the country come in.”

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Teacher quality program boosts school ratings

A teacher effectiveness program that has spread to 48 Indiana schools is boosting student achievement and school ratings and also winning support from teachers and administrators, according to a new study examining data from the program’s first two years.

CELL buttonTAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement – administered in Indiana by UIndy’s Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning – is one option available to meet the state requirement that every school adopt a system of evaluation and performance-based compensation for teachers.

The new study prepared for CELL and the Indiana Department of Education finds a clear impact on how schools fared in the state’s A-F rating system. From 2011 to 2013, the first two years of implementation, 40 percent of Indiana TAP schools raised their A-F ratings, compared to only 24 percent of non-TAP schools. In the year prior to implementation, only 14 percent of the TAP schools had improved their ratings.

Among the study’s other findings:

  • Two-thirds of classroom teachers surveyed say TAP makes a positive difference in student achievement.
  • 69 percent of classroom teachers believe TAP has increased the classroom support they receive.
  • Administrators in TAP schools agree almost unanimously that the evaluation process helps teachers improve.

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Board of Trustees elects new officers

Four community leaders have been elected to two-year terms as officers on the University of Indianapolis Board of Trustees.

The new officers for 2014-2016 are:

  • Chair: Thomas C. Martin, president, Bloomington Ford
  • Vice Chair: Yvonne H. Shaheen, CEO (retired), Long Electric Co.
  • Secretary: Stephen F. Fry, senior VP, Human Resources & Diversity, Eli Lilly & Co.
  • Treasurer: Michael P. Holstein, VP, CFO and treasurer, University of Indianapolis.

More information about the Board of Trustees is here.

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3-D printer opens options for science students

3-D printer - Duman - webAssociate Professor Tim Duman removes a test object from the new 3-D printer in the Department of Physics & Earth-Space Sciences.

It seems like magic: Design a model on your computer, and a fancy machine squirts it out as a three-dimensional object, right here in the physical universe.

This is the new frontier of 3-D printing, and some technology acquired this month by UIndy’s Department of Physics & Earth-Space Sciences promises to expand possibilities for students and their laboratory work, especially in physics and engineering courses.

Traditionally, Associate Professor Tim Duman says, when specialty components and enclosures are needed for experiments, students have fabricated the items from various combinations of wood, metal, cardboard, polystyrene and other materials. The possibilities are limited, and the process can be time-consuming, messy and even dangerous if power tools are involved.

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Forensic team resuming Texas migrant project

UIndy forensics - Texas 2013 - webUniversity of Indianapolis students (clockwise from left) Erica Christensen, Jessica Campbell, Justin Maiers and Ryan Strand exhume unidentified remains from a Texas grave in 2013. Follow their story at

This is not your typical summer break from college: A University of Indianapolis professor and five students will leave for southern Texas on Saturday to spend two weeks digging holes in oppressive heat and humidity, with more than a few snakes and scorpions as company.

Their mission is humanitarian and not for the squeamish. These are forensic scientists, volunteering time and expertise to exhume human remains and begin the process of identifying undocumented migrants who have died in remote ranch country after crossing the U.S. border. The destination is rural Brooks County, Texas, where hundreds and perhaps thousands of the missing – many of them women and children – have been buried in pauper graves in a small cemetery.



The phenomenon is playing out in border communities across the Southwest, and local officials often lack the resources to identify or even properly bury the remains. Meanwhile, desperate relatives throughout Latin America and Asia await word on their missing loved ones. UIndy’s Dr. Krista Latham, assistant professor of biology and anthropology, calls it “a human-rights crisis.”

“I realize some people are not immediately sympathetic to this cause, but these victims represent families fleeing lives of poverty and violence in their home countries,” says Latham, director of field operations for the project. The work is part of a broader initiative overseen by the International Consortium of Forensic Identification, whose members include Latham, Associate Professor Lori Baker of Baylor University and Associate Professor Kate Spradley of Texas State University.

This is a return trip for Latham and her four graduate students who began work on the project in 2013: Jessica Campbell of LaFarge, Wis.; Erica Christensen of Indianapolis; Justin Maiers of Lapeer, Mich.; and Ryan Strand of Irving, Texas. All are pursuing master’s degrees in human biology at UIndy, and all are experienced in the techniques of forensic archeology. The University of Indianapolis Archeology & Forensics Laboratory is often the first call for assistance when human remains are discovered in Indiana and surrounding states, and students assist with field and lab work on those cases.

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