The pride of Little 500 and keeping pace with the spring semester sprint

It’s become an annual tradition: trying to somehow summarize the drive, dedication, drama, pride, pageantry, guts, glory and more that make Indiana University Bloomington’s Little 500 race so special. Thankfully, the video above, shot and produced by our talented videographers in IU Communications, allows viewers to experience the men’s and women’s races in beautiful, breathtaking fashion.

Not surprisingly, Little 500 leads the list of recent activities and events that have fueled the campus’ sprint through the last leg of spring semester. And what a sprint it’s been. So without further ado, here’s a chance to catch up on a number of other notable happenings that have had Btown buzzing these past few weeks.

Call it breaking away to breaking bad. In the days preceding Little 500, IU alumnus and actor extraordinaire Jonathan Banks graced the IU Bloomington campus once again. He met with students, including those in the Media School and Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance; spoke before a packed house at the IU Cinema; and delivered a moving and inspiring speech upon receiving an honorary doctorate at IU Bloomington’s annual Honors Convocation. Banks, best known for his portrayal of Mike Ehrmantraut on the award-winning drama “Breaking Bad,” also took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with Media School Dean Jim Shanahan for an illuminating conversation about his ties to IU and his illustrious acting career. Their discussion was featured on the campus’s new weekly podcast, Through the Gates: IU This Week.

Everywhere he visited last week, Banks talked about the road he took to get to IU and the transformative impact the university had on his personal and professional growth. Despite vast changes in the composition of IU Bloomington’s student body over nearly 200 years of the campus’s existence, the IU impact — showcased in the IU Newsroom’s latest long-form story, “Tried and True” — continues to resonate in our students, no matter where they come from, be it Indiana or halfway across the world.

IU Bloomington is, indeed, enriching the lives of our students in many ways, providing them — from the time they set foot on campus — with valuable opportunities to work with first-rate faculty and to find, develop and refine their scholarly and research interests. The campus’ 2020 Sustainability Scholars program offers evidence of just how much IU is helping students get ahead of the curve, give back to their communities and reach their fullest potential.

The campus also continues to find creative ways to support our students’ growth potential, doing so through such initiatives as the annual BEST Competition for young entrepreneurs hosted by the School of Informatics and Computing and the Kelley School of Business. The BEST Competition recently marked a milestone with $1 million invested in student-led projects over the past five years, including $200,000 to two student teams this year. Among the winners was Ellie Symes, a student in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and one of the founders of the Bee Corp., which monitors the health of bees in the hive and grew out of the Beekeeping Club that Symes and several of her peers started on campus. Sykes and the Beekeeping Club were featured in the IU Newsroom’s long-form story Keeper of the Bees, published last year, on the growing network of IU students, faculty and Bloomington residents who have taken up the plight of the honey bee.

Sticking with the bee theme for just a bit longer, students from the School of Education have been working alongside faculty members from the school and Department of Biology on efforts that help young children learn about complex science topics. Through their BioSim project, they recently employed an activity where local school children used electronic honey bee puppets to highlight the many moving parts of how humans work together toward a common goal. The activity represents one of the many ways IU students are translating the campus’s growing “maker movement” — which promotes the use of new technologies to enable more people to design and build their own inventions and products — into opportunities for young people to engage in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Early in May, a talented group of undergraduate and graduate students at IU Bloomington will be given a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to brush up their Shakespeare — as the Bard would’ve heard his words spoken back to him when he was writing and directing. Murray McGibbon, an associate professor in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance, will present the first original pronunciation performance of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” since the 17th century. The groundbreaking “OP” performance, which McGibbon promises will deliver far more “punch” than “posh,” will feature a cast of 14 students and be staged May 5 to 8 at the Wells-Metz Theatre.

Finally, no summary of the past several days at IU Bloomington would be complete without a nod to the many members of the IU community here in Btown and all around the world who made the first-ever IU Day celebration on April 12 a smashing success. The all-day event promoting participation, university pride and giving reached a whopping 9.4 million people on social media with the hashtag #IUday and attracted nearly 17,000 unique visitors to the IU Day website in 24 hours. For a solid part of the day, the hashtag trended nationally on Twitter and was used more than 10,000 times, reflecting a massive sharing of what we all have come to love about IU, such as IU basketball and Assembly Hall, both proudly showcased in the No. 1 most popular video on IU Day.

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