UIndy, Butler live mascots reunite for Top Dog Challenge

The competition between the Truman State University Bulldogs and UIndy Greyhounds has been a GLVC throwdown for years, and now it’s time to determine who is the Top Dog!

Join the UIndy community as we compete against Truman State University to see which school has the largest impact in our communities. Now through Saturday, October 24 we will be raising funds for three organizations: Make-A-Wish Foundation, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, and Indianapolis Animal Care Services.

The Top Dog Challenge also inspired a local mascot reunion:

Butler Blue IV stopped by campus today to visit Grady and to show his support.

UIndy Mascot Grady and Butler University's Blue

“This bulldog stands with Grady.” – Butler Blue IV, probably

Help us help our community and show Truman that Greyhounds are the Top Dog!

Click here to make a donation now. Learn more at homecoming.uindy.edu.


Alli Nelson ’20 begins career with Indiana State Department of Health

WIN_20200917_13_45_23_ProIn the age of COVID-19, the UIndy Public Health program is committed to making a difference. UIndy graduates promote health and prevent disease within local and global communities, as well as reduce health inequities through conscientious application of evidence-based public health strategies including programming and policy development.

One of those graduates, Alli Nelson ’20, now works for the Indiana State Department of Health as a COVID-19 Health Educator Epidemiologist. Below is a Q&A about her experience in the Public Health Education and Promotion program at UIndy and what it has been like to start her career in the midst of a pandemic.


What was your year of graduation, major and any minors or concentrations?


I graduated with a B.S. in Public Health Education and Promotion from UIndy in August of 2020. I am part of UIndy’s 4+1 public health program, so I am currently finishing up my last year of my Master of Public Health program at UIndy and will graduate with my MPH in August of 2021. I was very lucky to be able to complete an extra accelerated program so I will graduate with my Bachelors and Masters in four years.


What was your experience in the public health program? How did it prepare you for your current career?


I cannot say enough good things about UIndy’s public health program. It prepares students so well to step out into the workforce either with an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree. The program gives you plenty of opportunities to network with professionals in the field and build relationships that prove to be beneficial upon graduation.


Additionally, the public health program focuses heavily on hands on experience. You are actively working with the community to design health education and promotion programs/interventions, conduct evaluations, compose grant proposals, and so many other hands on activities. This is so beneficial for students as it gives them the experiences that prepare them and allow them to standout when they are looking for a career.


The program pushes you to grow as a professional and develop important skills such as team building, communication, networking, problem solving, critical thinking, cultural competency, and so many other skills. The program also connects you with professionals and organizations that could be your future employer. That was the case for me. Our program director sent out an email of job openings at the Indiana Department of Health that was sent to her by a former UIndy graduate and I interviewed for a position and landed a job.


Can you give us a little more information on your current role?


I am currently contracted by the Indiana Department of Health as a COVID-19 Health Educator Epidemiologist. Within this role, I am working on an infection prevention and control program that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is rolling out called Project Firstline.


The aim of Project Firstline is to provide basic infection prevention and control trainings to all frontline healthcare workers, so this could be nurses, physicians, environmental service workers, dialysis facility workers, outpatient facilities, etc. Basically, we want everyone to know basic infection prevention and control like the back of their hand.


To reach this goal, I and another health educator will be providing 10 regional Project Firstline trainings within the next two years. The trainings will be based on the needs of the regions that will be identified through a Learning Needs Assessment that will be distributed throughout the state. This will assess what infection prevention and control trainings frontline workers currently receive and what are the gaps in the training that need to be addressed.


On the logistical side of things, I work on providing the grant deliverables for the grant that is funding this project as well as developing distribution lists of all dialysis centers, local health departments, homeless shelters, outpatient clinics, ambulatory surgical centers, primary care centers, and others to use to disseminate the needs assessment and the trainings.


How’s your transition to the workforce been? Especially with regards to starting during the pandemic.


The transition has not been too difficult. UIndy’s MPH program was online prior to COVID-19, so I was used to being productive and working from home. My current job is also fully online, so it wasn’t too different of a transition.


I attend a lot of Microsoft Teams meetings which is helpful to answer my questions and collaborate on different projects. I would love to work in person with my supervisor and other health educator, but it is not essential at this moment and it is safer for us to work from home. I was very fortunate to find employment during the pandemic, which I know was not the case for many. I am very thankful for my public health education that has prepared me to step in a role where I can help when a strong public health workforce is needed now more than ever.


Did any faculty or staff mentor you when you were a UIndy student? If so, who are they and how did they help?


I feel like all of the public health faculty and staff have mentored me throughout my time at UIndy. When we were on campus, I was definitely the student that went to professors office hours very regularly. Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch, Dr. Angelitta Britt-Spells, and Dr. Kara Cecil have played a very important and impactful role in my development as a public health professional.


I have sat down with all of them and received very valuable advice and talked through how to set myself up to be a successful/impactful public health professional. I never doubted that the public health faculty did not want the best for me and took time out of their busy schedules to meet with me and many other students. They are all great role models for all the public health students in the program.


I cannot say enough good things or thank them enough. I did not originally start as a public health major and I was originally on track to go into the Occupational Therapy program at UIndy, but they helped me discover my passion for public health and decide that I wanted to spend my life using my passions for the greater good of the public’s health.


What would you say to high school students who are considering UIndy?


I would definitely recommend UIndy to high school students. If you are wanting an institution that you know has your best interest in mind, UIndy is for you. If you want professors that care for you and success and are available to you, UIndy is for you. If you want to build community and have a close cohort to walk through college with, UIndy is for you. If you want to make a difference in your community during school and after graduation, UIndy is for you. If you want to gain professional experiences and skills that will set you apart upon graduation, UIndy is for you. If you want to take pride in your education, UIndy is for you.


Do you have any advice for UIndy graduates? 


My advice for UIndy graduates would be to have confidence in your skills and the education you received. You are capable and qualified for a position. I know being a graduate in 2020 can make it difficult to find a career due to the current circumstances, but this season will also build skills, character, and qualities that will be very attractive to employers. 2020 graduates are flexible, adaptable, determined, and will be valuable assets to a company. Have patience and trust that your hard work, dedication, and education will pay off.


Family Weekend brings special reunion for UIndy mascot Grady and sister

UIndy’s Family Weekend kicked off with a special reunion between Grady the Greyhound and his sister, Misty.

Before arriving at the University of Indianapolis in November 2019, Grady was a racing Greyhound in Daytona, Florida. Misty, also a retired racer, was with him every step of the way until their retirement. Both were raised together and had the same trainer.

Paul Nance, who adopted Misty, soon learned of Grady’s new role at UIndy. After some detective work, he confirmed that Misty and Grady were indeed littermates and knew that the pups had to have a reunion.

“It’s such an amazing experience to see them actually play together,” Nance said. “Greyhounds often get separated when they are retired because they retire at different times. To have two Greyhounds from the same litter end up in the same city through different adoption agencies is absolutely amazing.”

Grady’s handler, Coran Sigman, was excited for this to be Grady’s first Family Weekend, which the happy reunion made even more memorable.

“When you first introduce them right at the beginning, you want to do it in a safe manner, make sure everything is all good. Tails were wagging immediately! It’s nice for this to be Grady’s first Family Weekend. He’s still finishing up his first rookie year.”

With many Family Weekend events moving online due to pandemic restrictions, Sigman reflected on the Greyhound commitment to supporting each other.

“Obviously this year has thrown everyone for a loop. Family is what matters most and at UIndy family means something a little bit more and it’s a little more special. My husband and I are both alums, we both work here, Grady’s now a part of this. Keep your family close and that’s what matters most right now.”

R.B. Annis School of Engineering Welcomes New Director

Ken Reid“Driven by optimism and caffeine.” That’s how one friend of new R.B. Annis School of Engineering Associate Dean and Director Dr. Kenneth Reid described him. 

“I love that! I’m definitely an optimist,” Reid said. “I want to strive for consensus as we move forward. If we can foster an environment that is supportive, the program will grow and succeed.”

Reid holds degrees in Computer and Electrical Engineering (BS) from Purdue University, Electrical Engineering (MS) from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Engineering Education (PhD) from Purdue. “I believe this combination is ideal to lead the R.B. Annis School of Engineering forward—an appreciation of the technical content of engineering and an understanding of how to design and run a program where students will learn,” Reid said.

He begins his position at the University of Indianapolis with a wealth of experience in higher education, having served as a faculty member at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Ohio Northern University, and most recently, Virginia Tech where he also served as the Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Programs.

Reid and his family lived in Indiana for 17 years, raising their sons along the way. After moving away to take a faculty position at Ohio Northern University, he didn’t expect to be back. “I can honestly say [moving back] is a surprise,” he said.

It may have been a surprise, but it was no accident. Reid has worked at large research-focused institutions over the past six years, with incoming first-year engineering cohorts numbering more than 2,000 students. So when the opportunity to lead UIndy’s School of Engineering presented itself, he saw it as an opportunity to make a more personal impact with students. “I had experience at a smaller, private university in the past and remembered the chance to work with students as individuals, where you can really make a difference in a student’s life,” he said. 

“UIndy also has a young, energetic and innovative engineering program, and the chance to help it grow and thrive, and build it to the point where other programs hope to emulate what we do is a challenge I welcome!”

Reid has several goals as he begins leadership of the engineering program at UIndy. “The overarching goal is to grow the program and increase visibility,” he said. Reid hopes to accomplish this by exposing the program—especially aspects like the DesignSpine curriculum with emphasis on hands-on, real-world problem solving—to more high school students, parents and teachers. “I want to do my best to ensure that each student who comes to UIndy for engineering achieves success, and that we do all we can to help each person succeed,” Reid said. If the School of Engineering is able to do that, then he believes that will facilitate success for the entire team of faculty and staff in the engineering program.

Beginning this post during a pandemic is no easy task, and one that Reid realizes will impact students, staff and faculty alike. “This has forced us to look seriously at what it means to go to class, what it means to work in a team, how we communicate, and so on,” he said. “Our faculty are awesome, and they’ve worked hard to design and deliver courses that will work for students.”

“When we start to get back to normal, I think we’ll uncover some innovation we were forced to discover. We will do it right—we will design what works best for student success.” 

Community Gardens work continues this fall

Fresh produce from the University of Indianapolis community gardens

Fresh produce from the University of Indianapolis community gardens

This summer UIndy students worked hard to nurture the community garden, as it played a critical role in helping the surrounding neighborhoods stay food-secure during the pandemic. Bronwyn Getts ‘23 (public health education & promotion) and Gavin Craig ‘20 (music) handled daily tasks like watering, weeding and pest control.

“The most fulfilling part of the garden is knowing that the seeds we put into the ground have grown into nutritious foods that feed members of the community in need,” Getts said. “This year we distributed over 500 pounds of produce to the Light of the World Church and the Villa Baptist Church,  both of which had community food programs.” 

The community gardens were launched in 2017 with the goal of bringing access to fresh produce to the surrounding neighborhood. The project is part of an ongoing partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Community Health Network to provide health- and wellness-related opportunities to the Indianapolis southside. SoIndy has played an important role in the partnership, along with Community Hospital South and Purdue Extension.

Interdisciplinary collaborations are a key part of the project’s success. Last August, UIndy Social Practice Art students activated the gardens for a class project. During the past two years, garden interns have represented majors from across campus, including public health, environmental science, psychology and music. Gurinder Hohl, University of Indianapolis and Community Health Network partnership director, and Kevin McKelvey, professor of English and director of the Social Practice Art Program, are advisors for the community gardens.

McKelvey is proud of the garden’s progress. “We’ve been working the last year or two to improve the soil health and add infrastructure like drip-line irrigation, and now we’re seeing the results of that,” he said. “What were originally plans and proposals are now a reality with over 200 pounds of fresh produce each week that we deliver to Villa Baptist Church Food Pantry in the Bean Creek neighborhood. That weekly total includes almost 140 pounds of tomatoes, 40 pounds of cucumbers, and over 10 pounds each of onions and green beans, as well as radishes, beets, and peppers.”

McKelvey views the Community Garden as a learning lab, just like you’ll find all across campus. “The student interns and volunteers can use the information that they’re learning well into the future.”

The garden will continue to be worked this fall until the first frost, usually sometime in October, with harvests going to the food pantry at Villa Baptist Church, working in conjunction with associate professor of nursing Toni Morris’s Promoting Healthy Communities course.

“Many people started gardening during the pandemic, and this only underscores the need for fresh, local produce available to anyone,” McKelvey said. “We’ll continue with this work even when everything returns to normal.” 

“Gardens like ours are important because they allow the university’s students to work within their community and see how they can make an impact for those who need a little assistance sometimes,” Getts said. “It builds compassion and a sense of pride in the labor we do all summer while benefiting those in need.” 

“This garden has genuinely changed the way I see the world, my community, and myself.” 


Shayla Pyszka Joins OneAmerica as IT Analyst Intern

Shayla Pyszka

Shayla Pyszka

Honoring a commitment to its highly sought-after internship program, OneAmerica Financial Partners welcomed 18 college students this summer, including Shayla Pyszka ‘21 (information systems, applied analytics), for key support roles to drive business objectives.

She spent the summer working in information technology as an IT analyst. By concentrating on the web and applications side, she spent the bulk of her time focusing on a mobile project by creating an app. While this isn’t her first internship, she’s excited to intern at OneAmerica and be in an area closely aligned with her career aspirations.

“I enjoyed having a ‘real-world’ work structure and networking with those in the field I’m going to pursue,” Pyszka said. “When I interviewed, everyone made me feel comfortable. The friendliness and culture of the company drew me here.”

Pyszka is active in student and business groups in Indianapolis. She’s the president of the Student Business Leadership Academy and is in the data analytics club at the University of Indianapolis. She is a graduate of LaSalle-Peru Township High School.

Interns worked a 12-week assignment providing support to departments such as actuarial, commercial mortgage, finance, IT, human resources, and marketing. Pyszka and the rest of her cohort worked virtually but interactively, collaborating on critical operations and community projects, expanding their work experience and relationship-building skills.

“Our summer intern program has historically been a robust and immersive experience, as we align the financial services industry’s next best and brightest into our workforce,” said Karin Sarratt, executive vice president. “This year is no different. Our remote work environment will make their opportunity unique, but make no mistake, they will be helping us move toward reaching our business goals and filling our talent pipeline.”

School of Education Alum receives Amazon Award

Mark Snodgrass

Mark Snodgrass ‘00 (elementary education) received one of 10 Amazon “Future Engineer Teacher of the Year” awards and was the only award recipient from Indiana.

“I am overwhelmed with joy and humbled that a company such as Amazon has recognized my love of teaching and my students need to access technology,” Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass was chosen among thousands of applicants and was among the first recipients to ever receive the award, which contained a prize package valued at more than $50,000. The grant will provide improved technology to his students at Southport High School.

A School of Education alum, Snodgrass continues to support the program as a guest speaker and by bringing his students to demonstrate their work. He says UIndy’s School of Education has been “the best decision I could have made.” 

“The real-life experiences in the classroom, the professors understanding that their students will grow from mistakes, as well as the friendships and support from professors even after graduation, helped to make me the teacher I am,” he added.

With relationships on campus that span decades, Snodgrass has also found support through the R.B. Annis School of Engineering at UIndy.

“The department has been a great support for my classroom, my engineering teams, and Southport High School Engineering,” he said. “I am so blessed to work with professors like Dr. Steffel, Dr. Pennell, and Dr. Talaga. I am forever grateful for their guidance and wisdom and for being awarded this honor by Amazon. Go Hounds!”


Learn more about the Amazon award recipients

School of Education students volunteer with Burmese American community

School of Education - BACI volunteersDespite interruptions in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Greyhounds will be working with the Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) again this semester.

About 20 UIndy students will engage with BACI’s Upward College Program once a week throughout the semester to provide homework help, SAT prep, college and scholarship application assistance, and mentoring to local high school students. 

The BACI afterschool program will have a hybrid format this fall at two Indianapolis high schools, and UIndy students can choose between virtual and in-person opportunities. In addition to their weekly service, students will complete an inquiry project using an action research framework that they implement during the program. 

The project launched in fall 2019 through UIndy School of Education’s SCED 103: Teaching and Learning in Today’s Classroom. 

SCED102_02 (1)“Students who take this course are interested in becoming secondary teachers, so this experience allows them to get hands-on experience working with teenagers in a variety of academic ways,” said Assistant Professor Katrina Reinhardt, who teaches the class. “Through their service and reflections, students are able to make connections between what it is like to support teens in an afterschool program and how the skills gained will translate into their future classrooms.”

Reinhardt says that by working with a population that is culturally and linguistically different from their own (for most), UIndy students can better understand the challenges and benefits of having a diverse set of students in their future classrooms. 

UIndy students complete 215,000+ service hours annually. Learn more about “Education for Service” at UIndy


John Berners collaborates with faculty, alumni on Christel DeHaan tribute

CDFAC 20th anniversaryWhen Dr. John Berners, professor of music, heard about the passing of Christel DeHaan he knew he wanted to honor her in some way. It is impossible to walk through the University of Indianapolis without seeing the impact DeHaan had on the campus – from the beautification of Smith Mall, the creation of programs and scholarship opportunities inside the School of Education, the Center for Aging & Community, support for the creation of the Indianapolis Quartet, scholarships for students from Christel House Academy to attend UIndy, and of course the Fine Arts Center that bears her name. “We in the music department hear Ms. DeHaan’s name every day,” Berners said.

DeHaan was a true renaissance woman, her work and impact touching many different areas. She was a University of Indianapolis Board of Trustees member, and Board Chair, from 1990 to 2008. “She is famous in Indianapolis for her support of the arts,” Berners said. “But reaching far beyond that, she was also a global leader in education and anti-poverty initiatives like Christel House.”

In creating his tribute, Berners first selected a poem which he would eventually set to an original music composition. He chose “Wandrers Nachtlied,” written by the famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Berners chose a German poem because of Ms. DeHaan’s German roots and the strong German classical music tradition which includes composers like Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms. “We can see from her support that classical music was highly valued by Ms. DeHaan, so I liked the idea of trying to set a German poem to music in that same vein,” Berners said. “The poem is so beautiful and contemplative, about peace descending over the mountains in the evening, that it seemed to me appropriate.”

Berners enlisted the help of two Global Languages and Cross-Cultural Studies faculty members, Drs. Gerburg Garmann and Paul Levesque, to make sure that they agreed the poem would be an appropriate selection. “I wondered if the poem was overused and might be considered cliché, but I was relieved they felt it was fine,” Berners said. “I also asked them about the rhythm of German pronunciation in one spot, and about an unusual poetic form of a word that Goethe used.”

Once he settled on the poem, Berners went to work creating an original composition to set the poem to. After it had been written, he had more help from UIndy faculty and alumni in bringing the tribute to life. Dr. Daniel Narducci, adjunct music faculty, sang accompanied by his son, Nicolas Narducci, on the piano. In another recording, UIndy alumni Dakota Miller ’13, mezzo-soprano, and Matthew Bridgham ’13, piano, performed the tribute.

“I was inspired to write the song for Ms. DeHaan because I had met her when I wrote some music for the 20th anniversary of the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, she was funny and easygoing and I enjoyed our talk,” Berners said.

Given the far reach of Christel DeHaan’s impact, it is only fitting that so many people— across disciplines— were willing to aid in the composition of this tribute, from idea to execution. Please enjoy the recordings below:



Video featuring Dakota Miller and Matthew Bridgham:

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