I admit, I’m a bit of a romantic, especially when it comes to IU and Btown, where I’ve lived for the last 15 years. I received a master’s degree here. Met my lovely wife my first day of school. Have two kids who are growing up great here. My 11-year-old got to rush the Assembly Hall court for the first time recently. I have more pictures of my son and daughter traipsing through Dunn Meadow and around the Herman B Wells statue than I know what to do with.
Today being Valentine’s Day, a holiday that seems to go hand-in-hand with Hoosier cream-and-crimson, here are a few recent things that have added to my ongoing love affair with IU:
IU love stories: Did I mention I was a romantic? These stories, which first appeared in the Indiana Alumni Magazine and were reprinted in Inside IU Bloomington, show just how passionate IU alumni are about each other and their beloved university.
Making peace …: For the first time since 2011-12, IU Bloomington has earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. More than 1,600 IU graduates have served since the agency was created in 1961.
… and harmony: A perfect match. IU and students from Btown’s Harmony School will partner on a woodland gardening initiative intended to give students a better understanding of nature’s gifts and the benefits of green infrastructure.
Marathon film fest: Why do I love the IU Cinema? Let me count the ways. Rather, how about I just mention that the nation’s premier university cinema will be showcasing 12 films starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in a 24-hour marathon festival. The festival begins Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 18.
Play ball!: The best cure for the winter blues? Big Red baseball. First pitch for the Hoosiers, who are on the heels of the greatest season in IU baseball history, comes at you this afternoon at 3 p.m. EST at Texas Tech.
Meet the Beatles experts: Fifty years after they grabbed Americans’ hearts, the Beatles were back in the national conversation. And so were IU’s Beatles experts, including IU Jacobs School of Music professor Glenn Gass, who teaches what is believed to be the longest-running course on the Fab Four in existence.
IU talks Sochi: When they weren’t talking the Beatles, IU’s best and brightest minds were weighing in on the 2014 Winter Olympics. Their insights on the games blanketed many of the issues swirling around Sochi, Russia, including altitude and athletics, the role of social media, media and public opinion, the threat of terrorism and other controversies.
Big News: Shameless plug, but I think this site, featuring the headline-generating exploits and expertise of IU faculty and staff and brought to you by my colleagues in the IU Bloomington Newsroom, is pretty sweet.
Hoosier Valentine. You can’t spell IU without U and I. I bid you adieu with a few of my favorite #HoosierValentine cards that are being lovingly shared across the social media sphere.
Seismophotography and Shakespeare sonnets. Deadly pathogens and paintings.
Combine them and you get just another day in the inner workings of the brilliantly talented minds at IU Bloomington.
Art and science converge in the latest from IU Bloomington’s “Brilliant Minds” video series, which showcases how numerous campus researchers (from biology, geology, informatics and psychology) and artists (including painters, photographers and videographers, and textile artists) are collaborating to create amazing art based on scientific imaging. This unique creative process has enhanced the effort of both the scientist and artist alike to explore, better understand and offer commentary on the human condition and the world around them.
Jeff Wolin, Ruth N. Halls Professor of fine arts and co-leader of the Imag(in)ing Science at the Grunwald Gallery project, which my colleague Bethany Nolan blogged about last fall, sums it up best: “I’d like to think that good art could be good science and good science could be good art … it’s an idea that was very much part of the culture of the 19th century … we’re trying to be a leader in the rediscovery of art and science.”
The Brilliant Minds video series was created by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and IU Bloomington campus. More videos are available online.
While the Hoosiers get ready for tonight’s on-the-road hoops contest at Nebraska, fans might also take note of another Big Ten Network happening this evening, one that features two truly amazing and powerful IU stories.
Tonight, after the game, the network’s LiveB1G program will focus on the remarkable road to recovery of IU Athletics head strength and conditioning coach Tom Morris, who lost the use of his legs after a terrifying biking accident, and IU’s Proton Therapy Center, where tumor patients are receiving a groundbreaking alternative to radiation treatment.
The episode will air at approximately 10:45 p.m. EST, following the Big Ten Basketball Report. It will be repeated at 1:30 p.m. EST on Friday.
For those who might not be able to stay up and/or set a DVR, the good news is that both episode segments just came available online.
You’ll be hard-pressed not to be awed and inspired by the innovation and success of a center that, through a unique, noninvasive treatment, has saved many lives, including that of young Ben Edwards, whose dramatic and touching story is featured in the opening.
And as the segment on Morris shows, the beloved coach hasn’t stopped pushing himself since his accident, and he continues to hold himself to the same work standards that he sets for the athletes he trains. The segment also features men’s basketball coach Tom Crean, sharing his thoughts about why Morris is so special and what his story means for anyone going through difficult times.
Call it the Big Red version of Charlie Brown opening his mailbox one day and—YES!!!—finding an actual Valentine’s Day card from the “Little Red-Haired Girl.”
Putting a 21st-century, social media spin on the time-honored tradition of the college acceptance letter, staff at Indiana University have injected even more fun, energy and excitement into an already momentous life-event.
The university’s new #IUsaidYes campaign—which comes complete with a crimson envelope, rousing new YouTube video and a catchy new hashtag—has got IU’s newest students talking (which, in this day and age, means tweeting and posting) and telling the world from the very first day they’re accepted how excited they are to be Hoosiers. (Scroll down for some sample tweets.)
The social media statistics reflect the excitement the new campaign has generated thus far. Since the campaign’s inception in August, there have been 3,400 tweets, nearly 5,000 re-tweets and more than 3.7 million timelines reached with those tweets. Additionally, there have been a total of 894 Instagram posts with the #IUsaidYes hashtag. What’s more, of those students admitted within the last month, more than one in 10 have tweeted about their admission using the #IUsaidYes hashtag.
With its First Year Experience programs, including new student orientation, IUBeginnings trips and Welcome Week events, IU has long prided itself on helping future Hoosier alums get off to a strong start and helping them connect early with the people, places and traditions of IU. Now the connection starts sooner and the connections begin as soon as the newly admitted students get the good news.
That IU’s newest students bleed red from the beginning is testament to the continued ingenuity of admissions officials and IU Communications creative staff, who worked together to come up with a campaign that has managed to stay true to IU’s brand and tradition in today’s Twitterversed world.
“The crimson envelope came about because I knew our admit packet needed a facelift,” says Krista Timney, senior associate director of marketing/communications in IU Bloomington’s Office of Enrollment Management and campaign co-creator, along with IU Admissions Senior Assistant Director Chase McCoy. “We needed something that would really stand out when it came in the mail and something that would let students know immediately that it was from IU and that it was good news. It’s also very important to let students know that it is a big deal to get admitted to IU! So, what stands out more and says ‘IU’ more than a crimson envelope?”
Even before they receive their official acceptance packet in the mail, Timney says, students receive an #IUsaidYes email with artwork on the top that reads “Your crimson envelope is in the mail.” (Sorry, Charlie. Nowadays, it’s email before snail mail.) Another email arrives a few weeks later asking them to share their good news with the world.
“We all follow the posts and tweets on tagboard.com,” Timney says. “It’s often the highlight of the day to see what students have done. It’s fantastic and so much fun for us.”
In and around higher education circles, there has been a great deal of talk in recent years about the value of a college education, whether the four-year degree offers the best avenue to real-world success and the future of online learning, among other topics. These discussions are clearly worth having, and, indeed, they have helped drive many recent academic and administrative activities here at IU.
Not to be forgotten, though, is the anxiety many of us have experienced when that packet finally arrived in the mailbox (unfortunately, no email in my day!), the squint of the eyes as you slowly opened it and the thrill and excitement you felt when finding out that the school you selected actually said ‘Yes.’
Simple, straightforward and social, #IUsaidYes offers a welcome reminder that—kind of like Charlie Brown himself—getting into college will never go out of style.
It’s Thanksgiving break week and I, for one, am grateful. This semester has felt like it’s gone by at breakneck speed, providing me with little opportunity to give thanks for some recent big happenings in Btown.
Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Indiana premier of what will almost certainly become the next smash-hit sports documentary, “Medora,” at the IU Cinema. Directed by two Midwesterners, “Medora” showcases the stirring story of the state’s worst high school basketball team over the course of a single season, capturing the lives of the players on and off the court and life in a small southern Indiana town struggling to hang on to its cherished past.
The statewide debut featured Angelo Pizzo, the writer and producer of “Hoosiers” fame, interviewing the filmmakers, as well as a special appearance by members of the Medora Hornets, whose lives surely won’t be the same once this riveting documentary, which delivered a slam-dunk performance at IU Cinema, continues to make its way around the country.
So thanks to the IU Cinema, one of the country’s finest, if not the finest, collegiate cinema houses, and its tireless director, Jon Vickers, for giving Btown audiences the opportunity to see this little documentary before it goes big time.
And there’s much more to be thankful for, including:
IU’s scruffy students. After junior Brian Levitas was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his friends rallied around him Red Sox-style, growing out their facial hair for “No Shave November.” The bearded boys from Btown have raised $60,000 for cancer research so far, and, just last week, showed their love and support for Brian on NBC’s “Today” show.
Marathon dancers. More than 3,000 IU Bloomington students danced the night away – and then some – raising a record $2.6 million for Riley Hospital for Children.
Solidarity and support for the Philippines. After a devastating typhoon killed thousands of Filipinos and resulted in massive destruction, members of Bloomington’s Filipino community and IU’s Asian Culture Center came together to help in the relief efforts.
Veterans Support Services. U.S. News and World Report delivers a ranking in which we can all take immense pride: IU Bloomington is one of the top colleges for veterans.
Math whizzes. The numbers don’t lie. One university. Four faculty. Fifty mathematical scientists were named fellows of the American Mathematical Society for 2014 and only IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences placed four faculty members on the list.
Soulful Hoosiers. It’s a little-known secret about Hoosiers: We’ve got some serious soul. On Nov. 15, legendary soul musician Booker T Jones was among three IU graduates to receive the university’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award, IU’s highest award given only to an alumna or alumnus. Booker T celebrated his award by dropping by Dance Marathon that evening along with IU President Michael A. McRobbie.
The previous week, the renowned IU Soul Revue participated in the 20th-anniversary performance of the African American Arts Institute’s “Potpourri of the Arts” concert.
Finally, I give you former IU basketball star Victor Oladipo, who’s known to deliver a little bit of soulful magic behind the mike. See the video of Victor singing with fellow Hoosier athlete Shelby Gogreve that went viral this month.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
If you haven’t yet read Jessica Contrera’s story about “The end of the Waffle House,” which recently ran in the Indiana Daily Student, do yourself a favor, sit down, grab a cup of coffee and—why not?—a delicious syrupy waffle. Then prepare to indulge in an article that’s drawn some well-deserved national media attention for its wonderfully rich storytelling.
As a proud Indiana University School of Journalism alumnus, it gives me great pleasure to report that a current student is earning raves for her exceptional reporting, writing and use of multimedia, which she directed toward telling a powerful tale about the final days of a Bloomington, Ind., institution.
A senior from Akron, Ohio, Contrera worked with fellow students Anna Teeter (photography) and Emma Grdina (multimedia reporting) to produce a piece for IU Bloomington’s student newspaper and as part of her J460 Words and Pictures class that has been touted by, among other major media outlets, Poynter, Editor and Publisher and Longreads, as an example of why, to use Contrera’s own words, “good storytelling still matters.” Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch wrote in his “Media Circus” online column that Contrera’s story “is as good a feature as I’ve ever read from a college student.”
“The reaction to our story on the end of Bloomington’s Waffle House has been incredible,” Contrera told me over email. “It’s pretty ironic that a place so technology-averse could be so loved by the Internet. But when you work incredibly hard on something, it’s definitely rewarding to know that even total strangers connected with it.”
Contrera’s story, which required 15 drafts and many hours sitting at the Waffle House, pulls you in from the start and, like a dependable diner waitress, keeps serving up warmth and goodness until you’re finally finished.
Tap, tap, tap. Bud Powell’s aluminum cane led the way as he circled the floor of Bloomington’s Waffle House. His Waffle House.
That Wednesday in September, the owner didn’t know what to do with himself. The smell of frying oil, the same greasy perfume that had greeted customers for 46 years, wafted into his nose as he wandered past the vinyl booths. He sat down, then stood up again.
Bud – everyone called him Bud – checked the dwindling supply of breakfast sausage, peered into the empty freezers, tried to explain to his regulars why it had to be this way.
“It’s time,” he said over and over.
From the first time she visited with the Waffle House staff and patrons, Contrera knew she had a powerful story on her hands. “We talked to probably 15 or 20 customers and staff members that day, and every single one had a story about what the piece meant to them,” she emailed.
As if her description of those individuals weren’t enough, photography and multimedia only served to enhance the project, which was further supported by journalism professors Tom French (a former Pulitzer Prize winner), Jim Kelly and Bonnie Layton.
“It’s what made the story come to life,” Contrera said. “Through Anna Teeter’s photos, you could see for yourself the pain in Bud’s eyes, the door not locking and the building crashing down. In Emma Grdina’s multimedia, you could hear the last eggs sizzling and the customers crying.”
Those who haven’t yet read Contrera’s story should be prepared to shed a few tears when they do, but to also smile at the thought that the future of journalism is in good hands.
First off, an apology. If you’ve noticed a little less banter here, it’s because I’ve been off bantering elsewhere – Africa, to be more specific – and, like many others I know, trying my best to keep up with all the start-of-the-school-year happenings in Btown.
My colleagues and I have also been hard at work on launching a new and improved IU Bloomington Newsroom site, which we were excited to debut last month, and coming up with new and engaging ways to tell some of our most exciting stories, like this multimedia presentation that details the voyage home of the USS Indiana.
It’s been a busy semester for sure, but still, as I tell my 11-year-old son who conveniently forgets about his writing homework each night, there are no excuses. And I thought I might not get ANY forgiveness if I don’t start blogging before the unofficial beginning to fall in Btown, otherwise known as “Hoosier Hysteria.”
Yes, it’s the beginning of basketball season at IU and the continuation of what has fast become one of the campus’ most anticipated traditions. This year’s Hoosier Hysteria event will take place on Friday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.) and include introductions of the 2013-14 Hoosiers men’s and women’s squads, skills contests and a men’s team scrimmage. It will conclude with the men’s team signing autographs on the concourse level of Assembly Hall for an hour after the program. More information for those interested in attending is available on the IU Hoosiers website.
Other schools have their own start-of-the-season traditions, but here in the heartland of hoops, we’ve got arguably the best one of all, a sentiment expressed quite well recently, I thought, by the trusty staff at the Indiana Daily Student.
Personally speaking, I’m excited for my son, who’s never experienced the event and is excited to attend – in his new candy-striped pants, no less. But first he needs to know: No homework, no hysteria.
Come to think of it, it’s a lesson for dad and son alike.
The following guest post is courtesy of Bethany Nolan, who typically blogs at Art at IU. Below, Bethany describes the creation of a special multimedia presentation on the history of the USS Indiana and its memorable voyage home to Indiana University Bloomington.
With three uncles, a grandpa and cousin who’ve served or are serving in the U.S. Navy, the sight of sailors in their dress whites always makes me a little misty.
Maybe that’s why I got so excited when my boss, Ryan Piurek, mentioned the news that Indiana University was in the process of procuring the prow of the USS Indiana, which served in the Pacific during World War II.
I loved the idea that the university I work for would be honoring veterans, particularly those who served during World War II, a period of time I personally find fascinating and one where the sacrifices of the men and women serving their country clearly changed the world we live in today.
All of that is why I got even more excited when I started chatting with Jaclyn Lansbery, a part-time employee with IU Communications, about a multimedia project involving the ship’s arrival at IU. She’d checked out a couple of projects done in Creatavist, a cool program that creates multimedia projects online, or through an application or an ebook.
We dived in, quickly finding a wealth of historical images related to the USS Indiana in the National Archives, U.S. Navy records and the IU Archives. Incredibly, the Indiana Daily Student sent a reporter to cover the ship’s launch. A train full of Hoosiers traveled to Newport News for the launch as well, all interested in witnessing history in the making.
Jaclyn even discovered historical video footage of the ship’s WWII service, which includes some fascinating glimpses of the ship underway, its sailors in action — and even a little downtime, with sailors boxing on deck.
All of those items provided rich detail for our project, which you can view here.
The USS Indiana prow was dedicated at last weekend’s football game against Navy, and is now on display outside Memorial Stadium’s west entrance. If you haven’t seen it for yourself, make time to visit a piece of our nation’s history right here in Bloomington.
Rankings are often subjective, we know. Still, it was nice to see IU Bloomington ranked as the No. 2 large school (and No. 6 overall) on a list of “The Top 100 Best and Most Collaborative U.S. Colleges,” recently published in the Huffington Post.
Noting that many of today’s students are choosing colleges with “social media clout,” HuffPo columnist Vala Afshar set out to both identify the nation’s top schools (using U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 rankings) and then re-rank those schools based on how engaged they are on social media platforms. His conclusion: the best schools are the most social schools.
I might take it a step further and add that the best schools are the most social schools that are not just using the various social media technologies at their disposal but are using them to tell compelling stories while also building active, informed and engaged communities.
Using that criteria, IU is doing quite well. Whether it’s starting a dialogue with incoming and potential students through Twitter, sharing university news on Facebook or posting photos of our beautiful Btown campus on Pinterest and Instagram, IU continues to use its social media channels (which you can now find in one handy location) to deepen its connections with its many different audiences, including students and their families, faculty and staff, and, of course, alumni.
A nice example of how the university is using social media to build strong communities is happening right now as part of the lead-up to IU Bloomington’s annual Move-in Day, Aug. 21, which marks the official beginning of Welcome Week activities. At the request of IU Residential Programs and Services (@IURPS), new students are live tweeting their experiences moving into their residence halls and tagging their thoughts, tips and pictures with the hashtag #IUmovein. They’re also sharing stories and receiving updates through IU First Year Experience Programs’ Facebook and Twitter channels.
Continuing one of the most accomplished years in Hoosier sports history — one that included national and Big Ten championships, several athletic and academic all-Americans, and IU baseball’s first-ever berth in the College World Series — 13 Hoosiers are competing this summer in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia, where they are representing four different countries in five different sports.
The World University Games, which officially kicked off this past weekend, pit the world’s top collegiate athletes against one other in competition to earn medals for their native countries.
From an IU perspective, the games are off to a rousing start. Two Hoosier hoops stars — senior and 2013 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Will Sheehey and sophomore Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, the youngest member of Team USA’s World University Games squad — have led Team USA to a 2-0 start in the 10-day, 24-team tournament, as the squad attempts to win its first gold medal since 2005. Sheehey and Ferrell are the only college teammates on the U.S. roster and the first IU players to make the team since Brian Evans in 1995.
In addition to basketball, IU also has athletes competing in swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and water polo. They are representing the United States, Canada, France and Israel.
Hoosier fans can track the performances of all of this year’s World University Games competitors through IU Athletics social media channels.