ViaSolaris Magazine - Indiana State University

ViaSolaris Magazine - Indiana State University

ViaSolaris Magazine - Indiana State University


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.

FALL 2012













































Editor: Jennifer Sicking


Designer: MillerWhite

Feature Story Writers: Jennifer

Sicking, Kari Breitigam

Photographers: Tony Campbell,

Tracy Ford, Rachel Keyes, Jamil

Bucahnan, Jennifer Sicking

ON THE COVER: Alex Rodie answers

Chinese high school students’

questions in Dalian, China.

- Photo by Tracy Ford

Via Solaris • Fall 2012



calling the Community Semester.

John Murray, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to

the second issue of Via Solaris. In

this issue you will see just a sample

of some of the many impressive

accomplishments that faculty and

students in the College of Arts and

Sciences (CAS) have made during the

past year. Selecting the people and

events to highlight in this publication

has proven to be a challenging task,

as our college engages in a multitude

of exciting activities. An example of

just one is depicted on the cover

of this issue: history student Alex

Rodie engages Chinese high school

students in Dalian, China, where he

and a group of students traveled for 18

days to focus on environmentally and

culturally sustainable local economic

development. This is just one of the

many activities that you’ll read about

that allow students to gain experiences

in the classroom and extend that

content knowledge beyond the campus

so that it will serve them in their lives

once they leave Indiana State. As dean,

I feel lucky to be associated with the

faculty and staff who facilitate these

kinds of experiences for our students.

As alumni and friends of the college, I

hope you do, too.

The college accomplished a major

goal this past year by crafting its first

strategic plan. The plan, co-created by

myself and faculty, articulates a set of

goals and objectives that will guide our

planning for the next five years. Please

view the plan on our website www.

indstate.edu/cas/StrategicPlan. My

intention is to use the five goals to assist

us in making decisions about how we

currently operate as well as make plans

for future academic programming. I

have organized a group of dedicated

faculty leaders, each of whom is

taking ownership of a particular

goal or objective and galvanizing a

team of faculty and staff to create an

implementation plan to move forward in

accomplishing the objective. It is a tall

order, but our college is moving forward

in exciting directions.

I was very proud that the college is

home to five projects funded out of

the Unbounded Possibilities initiative:

the Center for the Study of Health,

Religion, and Spirituality; the Center

for Genomic Advocacy; the Institute

for Community Sustainability; the

Community School of the Arts; and

the Rural-Urban Entrepreneurship

Development Institute. These ambitious

projects involve multiple academic units

across the entire campus, and thus

are truly interdisciplinary. Each project

links directly to the community and

has aspects that link to research and

academic programming.

In spring 2013, the college will extend its

reach into Terre Haute and the Wabash

Valley with a new endeavor that we’re

The idea is that we will bring forward

lectures, demonstrations, concerts,

speakers, theatrical performances,

panel discussions, art exhibitions

and the like to the community. All of

the events will be public, and all will

revolve around a common theme. This

year’s theme is “Our Town,” and every

event will pertain to Terre Haute: it’s

past, present or future. Our three-fold

intention is: to raise the visibility of

the college; to bring our students into

the community; and connect them

with real events and issues that have

local relevance and to engage the

people and businesses surrounding

Indiana State. As the largest academic

college on campus, we feel that strong

community connection is vital to the

well being of our campus. Please watch

for the list of events on the CAS and

ISU websites, and in the monthly CAS

newsletter, Cornerstones.

Please make plans to come to campus

at Homecoming on Oct. 6, and visit

the CAS tent. You can look forward

to demonstrations and/or displays

from nearly every CAS department,

in addition to musical and theatrical

performances, poetry readings and, of

course, the special performance by the

Marching Sycamores as they make their

traditional, official stop by the CAS tent.

In closing, I thank you for your

dedication and connection to the

College as we continue to grow and

evolve. This upcoming year promises

to be as exciting or more than last year.

As always, I welcome your ideas and

comments. This is your college, and as

your dean I want you to be proud.

Go Sycamores!


John Murray


College of Arts and Sciences












By Kari Breitigam

Seven students from Nancy

Nichols-Pethick’s intermediate

painting class worked with

local artist David Erickson to

create a colorful, largerthan-life

mural at the

Terre Haute Children’s


“The mural was

the reason I

signed up for this class,” said Amanda

Vanatti, a senior in Nichols-Pethick’s

class. “I’m an art education major

so I am excited to work over at the

Children’s Museum. The museum is

such an exciting thing for Terre Haute.

I thought it would be really cool to be a

part of this project and do something in

the community. It is something that will

be around for a long time.”

For students, the chance to work with

Erickson is as much of an opportunity

as the mural itself.

“I was excited when I heard that David

was the artist, since he used to be

an instructor here and I really like his

Via Solaris • Fall 2012


Scan the code to

view the

Imagination Takes

Flight video.

Students paint a mural at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum

work,” Vanatti said.

The project challenged students with

new ways of working and approaching

the act of painting.

“I’m excited but nervous because it’s

not my design,” said Michelle Visker,

a third–year studio art major. “It’s

more difficult to work on someone

else’s design because everyone works

differently. I hope he likes my work.

I’m excited to work with David; to learn

from someone who used to teach


Jane Thornberry, a third–year graphic

design major, said a unique benefit and

challenge of the project is learning to

work as a team. “We all work differently

so the mural should have a unique vibe

to it,” Thornberry said.

Vanatti agreed that working

collaboratively can be difficult.

“I think the hardest part will be working

in this new area with several other

artists. We all have somewhat different

taste and style,” she added.

Erickson, professor emeritus of

printmaking, created the design for the

mural after Brad Venable, associate

professor and interim chair of the

art department, contacted him in

November. The mural, titled “Flightful

Fantasy: We can Fly, We can Fly!,”

depicts the evolution of flight through


“It illustrates the history of flight from

prehistoric times to the future with

mythological elements as well as

factual flying machines,” Erickson


The mural occupies a wall on the third

floor of the museum that is more than

eight feet high and more than 40 feet


“The size is daunting,” Visker said.

“David mentioned the mural would


Continued on next page...







A section of the mural painted at the Terre Haute Children’s Museum.

take a total of 16 gallons of paint and I

thought ‘Wow, that’s a lot of paint.’”

This was the third mural created as

part of the Gilbert Wilson Memorial

Mural Project. The goal of this project

is to bring public art to the Terre Haute

community and honor the memory of

Gilbert Wilson, a Terre Haute native and

mural painter in the 1930s and ‘40s.

The mural project began as an idea

of Venable who enlisted the help of

Nichols-Pethick, associate professor of

painting. Both have served as faculty

leads for each of the three mural

projects. The previous two murals

were created at the Terre Haute Boys

and Girls Club in 2006 and the Booker

T. Washington Community Center

in 2008. The current mural is being

funded by Energize Downtown, an

initiative of the Indiana State University

Strategic Plan.

“We want students to get experience

with public art. To work with an elite

artist, work on a large scale and see

how people organize large projectsthese

are all things the students gain,”

Nichols-Pethick said. “It’s easy for

painting students to get stuck in their

own bubble. This gets students out of

that bubble by thinking about the public

realm rather than just their private one.”

The creative work strengthened Indiana

State’s ties with downtown.

“ISU recognizes the importance of

community partnerships,” said Chris

Pfaff, director of the university’s

Business Engagement Center. “The

mural project provides an opportunity

for faculty and students to be engaged

in applied, value-added work that

enhances the unique fabric of our


Erickson said the opportunity was very

beneficial to the students.

“Most students have not had the

opportunity to participate in a

collaborative project of this scale which

will have a very large and appreciative

audience,” he said.

Before the first stroke of paint was

cast, the students met several times

with Erickson, who went over the

design and the process for the project.

The students were responsible for

underlaying flat areas of color as well

as detailing assigned subject matter.

“David asked us to do visual research

and prepare before we actually start

working. He wanted the mural to be

really realistic and accurate,” Visker


“He’s very research-based,” Thornberry


She said she enjoys seeing the mural

come to life. “As you work it’s really

encouraging to step back and see how

the mural is coming together,” she said.

“There is so much preparation,

thoughtfulness, and time going into [the

mural’s] conception,” said Vanatti. “I

think it’s going to turn out great.”

Via Solaris • Fall 2012




“I certainly never thought I would be

taking a class like this,” said Indiana

State University senior Megan Peterson

as she applied a layer of paper mache

to a larger than life size sculpt of

Benjamin Franklin’s head. “I never even

took an art class in high school.”

Peterson and five other Indiana

State students enrolled in the theater

department’s puppet-making class

created puppets and other props for a

production of “The People’s History.”

“It’s my last semester and I’m done with

my requirements, so I wanted to take

something fun,” said Peterson, who is

majoring in history.

“This is a different way of learning than

many of my other classes,” she said.

“Instead of listening to someone lecture

you are actually doing something. It’s

relaxing to sit, listen to music and do

my work.”

Each student created a large paper

mache head representing a political or

historical figure to be worn by actors

in “The People’s History.” Instead of

looking to realistic images of the figures,

most students have designed the

form of their heads from caricatures

of the individuals, including George

Washington, Thomas Jefferson and an

astronaut, among others.

Peterson was afraid of taking an artsbased

class because she never thought

herself to be artistically inclined and

believed the arts to be elite. This class

has shown her differently.

to remember it’s not going in an art


The ISU theater department performed

“The People’s History” in association

with Quest Theater Ensemble of

Chicago. Quest’s Andrew Park, who

earned a bachelor’s degree in theater

from Indiana State, directed the


Quest brought several puppets to the

class so that the students could get

a close up view of what they would

be making. Also prior to puppet

construction, the students watched

videos of Bread and Puppet Theatre, a

Vermont-based theater with which Park

has worked.

“This is a whole new world to me; it’s

nothing like I’ve ever done,” said Jenna

Kelly, a junior theater major.

Kelly, who has a design and tech

concentration, has never felt very

confident with drawing, but said working

in three dimensions has given her a

better understanding of form, especially

of the human face.

She said the skills she is learning in the

class will be beneficial for theater design

as designers often need to be familiar

with a lot of different materials that may

be used for props, scenery or other


Emery Becker, a sophomore theater

major, worked on the puppet head of

Thomas Jefferson. As he applied a fifth

layer of paper mache, Becker explained,

“The sculptures need six layers of paper.

The layers are needed to develop the

strength to withstand the performance

without ripping.”

Becker, who also found the process

very relaxing, said the most difficult

aspect was getting the paper to

conform around the nose and eye


“There are so many angles in that area,”

he said, “You need the surface to be

smooth but flat paper doesn’t like to

bend around all the curves and angles

of the face.”

The paper also was “really dirty so you

have to not care about getting glue all

over the place,” he said.

As a class, the students crafted a

puppet of the villain of the play, Moloch.

Moloch is a large puppet, around 10

feet tall, that, due to his size, was

controlled by four actors using a rolling

platform. This character was also

constructed from paper mache and

created in pieces–torso, legs, arms and

head. Each student worked on various

components of the puppet during the

down time from their individual projects.

Making masks for use in production of “The People’s History” theater production. The masks were

created in Dreiser Hall.

“I’ve learned that there are art forms for

everyone,” Peterson said, “Art is not


Linda Janosko, associate professor of

theater, agrees the class is unique.

“It is a craft type of experience meaning

that it is hands-on,” she said. “This

is a chance not everyone gets, and

the students are feeling much more

artistic. A lot of people don’t do much

art after elementary school. As people

get older, they get too worried about

making things look realistic, and they

get discouraged and quit making art.

Paper mache is a cheap art, something

anyone can do. I tell them they need




Eager to meet their host family, Jordan

Black and Nathan Rainey stepped into

a home in the village of Kosumpisai,


“When we arrived, the first thing they

asked us to do was to call them mom

and dad,” said Black. “They were like,

‘You’re our sons now; you’re part of our

family from now on.’”

The inviting welcome was just a hint

of the gracious Thai culture the two

Indiana State seniors would experience

during the next seven weeks.






“When you go over there, it’s waves

of graciousness and politeness all the

time. They will do anything to make you

comfortable,” said Black, a student from

Freelandville, Ind.

Black and Rainey, both music

education majors, travelled to Thailand

this summer to teach band at the

Kosumwittayasan School, a secondary

school in the eastern region of Thailand.

The students heard about the

opportunity to teach abroad through

Brian Kilp, a professor of music at

Indiana State University. Kilp has

been travelling to Thailand for more

than 11 years and has visited the

Kosumwittayasan School on several


“When we were in Thailand last January,

a teacher at the Kosumwittayasan

School asked if it would be possible to

have some student ‘experts’ to come

teach for an extended period,” said Kilp.

“I immediately began recruiting Jordan

and Nathan, as I thought they would be

a good match.”

The seniors were excited to take on the

challenge, which would provide them

with valuable teaching experience.

“The school actually treated us like

we were a teacher with a real college

degree. They gave us our own office

where we could work and prepare for

rehearsal,” said Rainey, a Petersburg,

Ind., native.

The Indiana State student team taught

Thai students practice their parade marching.

the band course during the summer.

Black also had the opportunity to

arrange music for the Thai drum line.

In addition to teaching their first classes,

Black and Rainey experienced life

outside of the United States for the

first time.

“First off, you have to throw out every

preconception you have about an

educational system from America,

because it’s nothing like that,”

said Black.

In Thailand, for example, band is solely

an extracurricular activity. Students

meet after school rather than in a class

during the day. This was just one of

several differences Black and Rainey


“Again, you have to throw out

preconceptions,” said Black. “Many

American bands are what we would

call field bands, where they march on a

football field, but this band is primarily a

parade band.”

In addition to parades, the group

performed the national anthem and

school song at a daily school assembly.

Under the instruction of Rainey and

Black, Thai students had the chance to

learn about a new style of music.

“One of our goals was to help them

focus more on concert style music,”

said Black, noting it was something

different for the young musicians.

The Indiana State students spoke highly

of the Thai students.

“They’re just so willing to learn,”

said Black.

Rainey agreed. “They are so, so thankful

for the education that they do get,”

he said.

Likewise, Black and Rainey were

thankful for the opportunity to teach

the band class. They were able to

see firsthand the value of teaching

techniques they had learned in classes

at ISU.

“Most education students know that

talking is overrated and that you should

hear the students talk more than you

hear yourself talk,” said Rainey. “But

I don’t think I really understood that

until I went over there and saw how

effective our teaching was, even though

we weren’t usually verbally telling them

what to do.”

The language barrier forced them to

use more hands-on explanations and

demonstrations instead of spoken

descriptions, said Rainey. The challenge

provided an added benefit to an already

valuable teaching opportunity.

“This is experience teaching, which is

something that many university students

never get until the first day that they’re

teaching something,” said Black. “In

some cases, you’re a music teacher

and that’s your first day.”

Via Solaris • Fall 2012

“Now we have six weeks of teaching

experience under our belt,” said Black.

For that, they have the generosity of the

university and the ISU Foundation to


Both students also expressed gratitude

for the travel grants they received,

echoing the gracious attitudes of the

Thai people they described.

“I am extremely thankful for the funding

we received. It covered everything,”

said Black.

The provision provided the Indiana State

students with an experience that will

influence their teaching in the future.

Black and Rainey said the culture made

a large impact on them as well.

“Every day, when we got to rehearsal,

they would greet us. They would stand

and say, ‘Good afternoon, how are

you?’ and they would stand as a group.

And after every rehearsal, they would

thank us and tell us that they would

see us again tomorrow. Every day,”

said Rainey, impressed by the level of

respect shown by the students.

“A lot of times as educators in America,

we struggle with convincing students

that what we’re teaching is important,”

said Black.






Indiana State University students

will have access to a retired faculty

member’s extensive collection of

art-related books and periodicals.

Charles Mayer, professor emeritus

of art history and former chair

of the art department, donated

his collection to the Indiana

State University Foundation. The

collection of 8,147 books, 163

journal titles and 457 photographs

and other media items is housed

at the university’s Cunningham

Memorial Library.

“Dr. Mayer’s generous gift has

greatly enhanced our collection

of art-related material. With this

gift, we can now offer incredible

art resources that provide for the

teaching, learning and research

needs of Indiana State University

students and faculty,” said Alberta

Comer, dean of the library.

Mayer said any university that

includes the name of “Arts and

Sciences” needs to provide ongoing

support to the arts.

“Art is fundamental to the human

ethos and I wanted to ensure that

students would benefit from the

materials that I had and to grow

from the research they would

pursue. I could think of no better

place to give these materials than

Indiana State,” he said.

Working with library staff during his

tenure at Indiana State gave him the

confidence that his collection would

be used appropriately, Mayer said.

“Under the administration of Alberta

Comer’s watchful eye, the library

is getting the kind of guardianship

that it needs,” he said. “The library

is in many ways the heart of an

academic institution, whether we

are talking the digital age or not.

‘Available online’ does not mean we

don’t need a library anymore.”

Mayer retired from Indiana State’s

College of Arts and Sciences in

2008 after 30 years of service.

“But in Thailand, they just immediately

accepted whatever we said and applied

it to their playing, and the results were

incredible,” said Black. “When they’re

really willing to do whatever you say, it

magnifies the outcome.”

Nathan Rainey conducts a band in Thailand.

“Art is fundamental to

the human ethos and I

wanted to ensure that

students would benefit

from the materials that I

had and to grow from

the research they would


-Charles Mayer
















By Jennifer Sicking

For weeks, Leslie Barratt attempted

to run. She visualized it. She thought

about it. She tried it, but her body

refused to obey.

“If you can, imagine somebody at the

end of a marathon running. It’s that

kind of disjointed, ‘I’m a bunch of

bones trying to coordinate; can

I even get my knee up?’” she

said describing her attempts.

Leslie Barratt shows the size of the brain tumor that impacted her ability to move.

But on a late winter day,

under the fluorescent

lights of Root Hall,

Barratt ran. Her

body no longer

felt disjointed,

fighting the

motion. At

the end of the languages, literatures

and linguistics department hallway,

she stopped, and her scalp tingled as

if she’d just had acupuncture. So, she

turned and ran back down the hallway.

Again, her scalp tingled. She had

regained one more motion in her life.

“A baby walks and then within days or

weeks they run,” she said. “They don’t

have to be taught to run, so it was a

challenge to me because I felt it was a

human thing that you can run.”

Now, she runs down that hall

regardless of stares from colleagues in

the department she chairs. She runs

because she doesn’t want to forget.

* * *

Languages and cultures swirled

around Barratt as she grew up.

Her grandparents spoke Russian

to her. The next door neighbors

Via Solaris • Fall 2012

spoke German and Serbo-Croatian.

Hungarians lived down the street.

“There was always this multiculturalism,

multilingualism around,” she said. “I

kind of grew up with that idea that the

world is a big place.”

In 1959, at 8 years old, Barratt’s

parents decided to expand their

children’s worlds beyond their town in

New Jersey outside of New York City.

They drove south and west across the

United States to Cuernavaca, Mexico,

for three months of summer vacation.

In Mexico, Barratt wore a blue and

white pinafore uniform to her private

school and absorbed Spanish from her

classmates, teachers and house maids.

By the time they left Mexico, she could

understand most spoken Spanish, even

if she could not always speak it.

classes necessary for the major.

“I found I wasn’t as passionate about

those as I was about languages,” she


When she heard of linguistics, she

knew immediately that’s what she

wanted to study. Beloit College, where

Barratt attended, had a Porter Scholar

program that allowed students to

design their own majors. After being

accepted into the program, she studied

Old English, Middle English, acoustics,

and psychology of language among

other subjects. She went on to earn

master’s degrees from the University

of Wisconsin-Madison and Northwest

Missouri State University before earning

her doctorate from the University of


Barratt came to ISU to teach in 1980.

She kept studying languages and

traveling while instructing courses

in teaching English as a second

language, linguistics and English

grammar. In 2012, Barratt received

the Distinguished International Service

Award from the university.

“My thought is you shouldn’t step on

the soil of a country without speaking

enough of the language to survive,”

she said.

Continued on next page...

Provost Jack Maynard places the Distinguished International Service Award around Leslie Barratt’s neck.

For the return trip, the family journeyed

on a ship that stopped in Cuba on its

way back to New Jersey. Then within

six weeks, Cuba became the focus of

nightly news.

“I remember my parents doing the

unthinkable and bringing the TV into the

kitchen while President Kennedy talked

about Cuba’r, as he pronounced it,” she

said with a laugh.

Her travels to the island and the swirling

news after its revolution affected her.

“It brought to me very much that the

world was a place that was connected,

and I was connected to things that

happened both in and out of the U.S.,”

she said.

Barratt continued to make those

connections to the world. At the age of

13, her family spent five weeks touring

Europe. As a senior in high school, she

lived in Belgium as a foreign exchange

student and learned to speak Flemish


“It’s my second home now,” she said of

the country.

Those experiences gave her an

international focus, and she decided to

study international relations in college.

She found she didn’t flourish in the

macro economics and other such



good news was it was reconnecting.”

Almost 11 months after the surgery,

Barratt has returned to her full life.

“I still have holes in my head and dips

and metal clips,” she said rubbing her

head through her short, curling brown

hair. “I’m a phrenologist’s dream.”

As her brain has healed, Barratt has

taken notes on the process, learning

from what it can teach her. She

discovered type size and font matter to

injured brains.












Leslie Barratt teaching a class at Indiana State University.

Over the years she compiled a list

of 94 questions that focus on when,

where and how much she learns before

traveling to a country.

“You don’t need why, even though

it seems like one of the basic

question words,” she said. But why is

unimportant to finding out if a plane has

changed gates or how much a snack

costs. “You have to give up that kind of


* * *

In 2011, Barratt, once again, left the

question of why unasked when the

unexpected happened.

“There’s no real benefit that comes

from trying to figure out why it

happened to me or feeling bad about

why it happened,” she said. “The only

approach that has helped is not to look

at the past, but to look to the future and

remain positive about what I can do.”

Barratt awoke at 5 a.m. on May 3,

2011, as she usually did. She joined her

husband, Will, in the hot tub as part of

their morning routine. But then as she

got out of the hot tub, she felt herself

collapse like an accordion shutting

down. Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk

sounded as her knee, hip, elbow and

head fell against the deck.

“Wow, my head isn’t even going to hold

me,” Barratt thought as she collapsed.

A concerned Will asked if she could

talk and she responded that she

could. He asked if she could get up,

but she couldn’t move. Will rushed

her to the emergency room and

within an hour, they knew she had a

walnut-sized meningeal tumor in the

right hemisphere of her brain that had

sent a tendril down her motor cortex.

That tumor caused her collapse and

paralyzed her left side. Two days later,

doctors operated, removing the tumor.

A week after her collapse, Barratt

moved to a rehabilitation center to learn

how to walk and write again.

Through the process of relearning,

Barratt has let her brain teach her as it


At first, her brain registered her left

foot as cold even though others felt

its warmth. She felt as if her toes had

been amputated and she walked with a

limp. With continued therapy, including

acupuncture, feeling and function

has returned to her foot. Toenails that

refused to grow eventually came to life

and a small cut that refused to heal


And her brain began to remember

past injuries to her left foot. One day,

her foot swelled and she remembered

another injury. Another time her big toe

throbbed, and she recalled a stubbing

that left it black and injured for weeks.

“It was unwinding its memories,” she

said of the pain. “At the same time, the

“Small type, serif fonts, bright or

colored paper and colored type all put

an added tax on my brain right now

so that it simply refuses to read what

is written, and I suspect this may be

true for young children and for second

language learners,” she wrote in an

article for Indiana Teachers of English

to Speakers of Other Languages


Barratt found it took time for writing to

become instinctive again. But just as

life returned to her foot in the months

following surgery, so did her writing

flow more easily.

The experience has helped her

identify with her students who may be

struggling to understand a concept

or to learn a language. She no longer

thinks the student isn’t trying hard

enough or that it is too difficult for the


“Now, I think ‘let’s figure out a way

because obviously this is taxing their

brain,’” she said. “I’m seeing that it’s a

physical thing. Not everything is a lack

of motivation or a lack of trying.”

Barratt watches for her own cognitive

load even as she runs through her life

schedule of teaching classes, leading

conferences and traveling throughout

the United States and world. Now,

she has additional messages to share

with students and other language

professors from what her brain has

taught her.

“It’s been a fascinating journey. It really

has,” she said. “I feel very fortunate to

have gone through it.”

Via Solaris • Fall 2012






For most students, working under

pressure means writing an essay or

putting together a project at the last

minute. For freshman Natalie Smith, it

means helping create an entire movie –

including writing, casting, shooting and

editing – in just two short days.

The seven-person team drove to

Indianapolis, where the members were

briefed on the requirements for their

short film. A specific genre, character

name, prop and line of dialogue were

assigned to the group.

“You have to adhere pretty strictly to

some of the rules, when it comes to

filmmaking and different locations and

people,” said Eric Louk, a 1996 ISU

alumnus and coordinator in ISU’s

Registrar Office who also worked on

the project.

said Louk. “I picture her as a jack-ofall-trades

when it comes to working in

a team.”

He also noted Smith’s ability to adapt to

sudden changes, a key characteristic in

an industry where things don’t always

go as planned.

“We had to improvise solutions for

things, so I think that kind of experience

is going to be very helpful,” said Louk.

“It’s definitely a good amount of realworld

experience for her.”

Smith worked as part of a team to make

a movie for the 48 Hour Film Project, a

competition that travels to cities around

the world and challenges filmmakers to

put together an entire short film in only

two days.

“It was definitely a lot of fun,” said the

electronic media major, whose team

entered the Indianapolis contest.

Together, the team created “Magic

Orange,” a film about an unhappy

lawyer whose life changes after an

encounter at a local ice cream stand.

“Magic Orange” received the awards

for Best Cinematography and Second

Runner-Up Overall from among 43

entries, according to Indianapolis city

producer Jim Walker.

Smith, from Terre Haute, said the

film was also picked up by a notable

Indianapolis film festival. “The Heartland

Film Festival saw it and they wanted to

include it in their contest,” she said. “So

that was pretty cool.”

Smith heard about the contest from a

pastor at her church, where she is on

the multimedia team and responsible

for graphics and text that appear on the

screen. Her pastor encouraged several

members of the multimedia team to

enter the competition.

Smith said she was immediately

captivated by the idea.

“I was really excited,” she said. “We had

done some little movies together before,

so we kind of knew who was good at

what things.”

Natalie Smith

“As we quickly found out, it really did

depend on being a team effort.”

In addition to the core group of seven,

more than 20 people contributed to the

film in some way.

During the two days, Smith worked as

a production assistant and managed

a variety of tasks. She helped with

scriptwriting, storyboarding, picking up

props and doing whatever was needed

by the group.

“She was that person who would just

jump right in there and get it done,”

Smith agreed, saying the experience

gave her a better idea of what to expect

from a career in the industry.

“I guess, it’s a little less romantic for

me. You know, all the drudgery of just

standing outside in the sun for 10 hours

for one short little movie. And staying

up the night before until 3 a.m. because

you don’t have time the next day,” she


Despite the high-stress nature of the

job, Smith hopes to one day work in the

media industry.

“I would like to be a filmmaker; that

would be my ultimate dream job,”

she said. “But some kind of editor, or

working on commercials would be fun,


She said her courses at Indiana State

have helped her recognize interests

she might be able to incorporate with


“I’ve discovered I really like my history

class, so something like documentaries

would be kind of a fun thing to do too.”

Overall, Smith said the competition has

made her more sure of her future career.

“I think it’s helped solidify it,” Smith said.

“It was definitely testing ground to see,

‘you know, can really take this when you

get down into the details.’ So yeah, I

think coming out of it, still wanting to do

it is a good sign.”















Indiana State University graduate

Brian Miller reached an epiphany when

he started receiving Christmas party

invitations that came with a catch.

Come to the party in your best, tackiest

holiday sweater.

“So in 2005, I started noticing that I was

just getting a ton of invitations to these

parties,” Miller said, “and it was like

out of the blue they started to become


As he owns several dozen Internet

domain names, it made sense for him

to snag up uglychristmassweaterparty.

com. He wrote a blog and would post

pictures of some of the best – or worst

– holiday sweaters he would encounter.

Miller spoke with his friends and fellow

ISU graduates Kevin Wool and Adam

Paulson, and in November 2009 they

decided to buy old Christmas sweaters

from a thrift store, photograph them

and then put them up for sale on the


“I think the expectation was that the

best case scenario would be that we

would each get an extra couple hundred

dollars to buy Christmas presents, and

worst case would be that we would

each owe Adam $20 to help recoup

his initial $60 investment that bought

The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book

the sweaters,” Wool said. “I was just

excited to get them on the site and see

what would happen.”

They didn’t have to wait long. By the

next day, much to their surprise –

and initially, suspicion – buyers had

snatched up all the sweaters.

“All three of us thought someone was

messing with the group, and nobody

really believed that people came on the

site and bought them all,” Miller said,

“but it was legit.”

Like a Christmas miracle, the new

business, known as Ugly Christmas

Sweater Party, was born. The three

Sycamores sold 1,000 sweaters that

first Christmas season and about

4,500 last year, Miller said. This year

the trio hopes to sell more than 10,000


The three friends forged their group

bond at Indiana State as members

of Sigma Phi Epsilon and now reside

in Northwest Indiana. They first ran

the business out of their homes; now,

they have about 14,000 sweaters at a

warehouse in Crown Point.

Miller, who graduated from ISU in 2004

with a degree in communication, and

Wool communicate regularly with their

fans and customers through their site.

They also have a fan page on Facebook

where they offered a daily contest to

name a sweater, with the winner taking

home the ugly Christmas sweater

as a prize. They received dozens of

suggestions for each sweater, and at

times garnered over 100 responses to

a post.

“When it comes to companies and

organizations interacting with people via

social media, to be successful, you must

be able to engage them in two-way

communication,” Miller said. “So I think

that’s where we’ve really scored.”

Their education at ISU helped prepare

the three of them for running the

business in different ways. While Miller

and Paulson, a 2005 graduate with a

double major in finance and marketing,

use their majors in various aspects of

the business, Wool has also applied his

lessons from his recreation and sports

management major in various areas

as well. He added that the lessons

they learned in time management and

meeting deadlines help.

“A large portion of all college projects

are done in a group setting, and being

able to deal with conflicting schedules,

personalities and perspectives is a skill

one must possess,” he said, “and with

the three of us working together we

demonstrate that skill on a daily basis.”

They have appeared on the CBS

Sunday Morning Show and Fox and

Friends, and the media inquiries haven’t

subsided since. Last year’s media

appearances include a visit to The

Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

“Just when you think you couldn’t be

more surprised or shocked, something

else happens that takes it to a whole

new level,” Wool said. “I used to say that

I wouldn’t be surprised if certain things

happened, but that is never the case.”


“The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

Book,” written by the trio, hit bookstores

across the country before last

Christmas. The book includes humorous

instructions on how to dress for a party,

along with variations of the characters

encountered at the events. The ISU

alumni even included photos of some

of the most memorable sweaters they

have sold.

Via Solaris • Fall 2012

With his mantra of “Don’t miss class,”

ringing in his head, he made it to every

class, even driving through snow and ice

from his home in Bloomington.

He also found professors that

encouraged him.

“Right away I noticed that Benjamin was

absolutely determined to do something

with his life,” said Robert Hunter, history

professor and Tomak’s adviser. “He

wanted to prove to himself that what

happened earlier was not the real

Benjamin Tomak.”

Benjamin Tomak poses in front of Buckingham Palace in London.





When Benjamin Tomak walked onto

Indiana State University’s campus in

2010, he did so with a certain amount of

fear and self doubt.

On May 5, Tomak crossed the stage

at Hulman Center to graduate. Beyond

achieving his degree, Tomak found

a future by defeating his doubts. He

received a fellowship for a one-year

master’s program in history at the

University of Liverpool. After completing

that degree, he will attend the University

of Delaware, where he also received a

fellowship to work on a master’s and


“I always kind of regretted it, but I put it

in the back of my mind,” he said.

He went to work in the restaurant

industry and worked his way up to a

general manager position.

“I was making good money,” he said.

“I was in charge of the place, but I

absolutely hated my life.”

But he began to read again and, in

reading, found his path. He delved into

history – his major while at ISU – and

soon spent his days off reading that


“I thought ‘Once upon a time, you had

a chance to do this,’” he said about

studying history. While the idea of

returning to college tempted him, his

doubts raised their specters. “I was

terrified I’d fail again.”

Hunter described his role as helping

Tomak figure out what he would need to

do at ISU into order to gain admission

into a highly competitive graduate

program, and also inspiring him in

order to boost his confidence. Hunter

told Tomak his own story of being a

struggling, first-generation college

student with limited financial means who

dreamed of attending an Ivy League

graduate school, and had made it into


“Since study abroad had not only

enhanced my competitiveness but

also changed my life,” Hunter said, “I

suggested that he consider this.”

However, Tomak at first laughed at the


“I had about 100 reasons why that

was impossible,” he said. “I mean, who

hasn’t thought about it. Financially, it

was impossible to do. ”Except that it

wasn’t. Hunter convinced Tomak to

meet with Janis Halpern, director for

academic programs abroad.

The man who once had trouble

attending classes now wants to be a

history professor.

“I want to be the kind of professor I’ve

had here,” Tomak said.

Tomak enrolled at ISU in 1998 after

graduating from high school. Two years

later, he dropped out. Then he dropped

out of Indiana University and Ball State

University, admitting that he didn’t have

a willingness to attend class.

But in 2010, he decided to go for it. He

also had a plan, one that had worked

his first semester back in school at Ivy

Tech Community College. He attended

every class. He sat in the front row. He

listened. Every day, he worked on his


Instead of failing, he succeeded. He also

discovered something else. “I started

loving it,” he said.

Tomak again enrolled at Indiana State.

“I went to talk to her with absolutely no

expectations and I walked out with hope

that it might be possible,” he said.

Tomak received three scholarships to

pay for his study abroad semester. The

money allowed him not only to study

at the University of Chester in England,

but to also travel in England, Ireland,

Scotland and Wales as well as to Paris

and Rome. He also found a graduate

program that interested him in nearby

























Martin Maynard, Shawn Phillips, Kelly Norton and Leah Newton sift through dirt on the trays.



By Jennifer Sicking

For decades, a farmer rotated planting

his corn and soybean seeds in a field,

little suspecting what lay a few feet

further below where his plow chiseled

through the Indiana earth.

In 2005, when the city of Terre

Haute received the donated

land for a fire and police

training area, officials, too,

knew nothing of what lay


“This was a

cornfield and

bean field,

you know

crop rotation, but all this area was

nothing but rows of corn,” said

Norm Loudermilk, Terre Haute Fire

Department assistant chief. “I had no

idea that anything was out here. There

were no maps. There was no markings.

There was nothing.”

A backhoe digging a trench for

a water line uncovered what had

been forgotten: an old county home

cemetery. An Indiana State University

professor and students pieced together

the clues of those buried there,

including discovering how many have

lain at rest since at least the late 1800s.

“Whenever the backhoe came through

to dig the water line, it seems they went

through in total about 12 graves,” said

Shawn Phillips, ISU associate professor

Via Solaris • Fall 2012

Scan the code to

view the

Uncovering a

Mystery video.

Shawn Phillips, ISU associate professor of anthropology, sifts through dirt looking for pieces of the graves.

of anthropology. “That stopped

whenever the backhoe operator found

a skull.”

ISU students worked with Phillips

running a ground penetrating radar

to discover the boundaries of the old

cemetery and how many graves may

exist at the site.

“What I would like to see happen is that

over the next couple of years, these

graves be removed, that they be buried

properly in a cemetery with a marker

[noting] they’re former residents of the

county home, with all the dignity they

deserve,” Loudermilk said.

Students screened piles of dirt

removed by the backhoe to find bone

fragments, coffin wood, nails and

buttons–remains of those who came to

live and die at the Vigo County Home

for the poor.

“We found a finger bone that I could

tell had a stain that was from a ring and

moments later we also found a ring

with it,” Phillips said. “It was a wedding


The 15 students working on the project

as part of a class in bioarcheology field

methods collected the bone pieces and

fragments, the pieces of life that was,

to reassemble the disturbed individuals

so they can be reburied at another

cemetery. Students lifted buckets of

dirt, carted from the pile dug by the

backhoe, and dumped the dirt on

screens. As students ran their hands

through the dirt, clumps broke apart

into fine pieces and fell down to create

an upside–down cone of dirt below.

In the crumbling dirt, students’ fingers

grasped buttons, bone shards and

other pieces of an earlier life and death.

“It’s a little mystery to solve,” said

Sharon Johnson a junior anthropology

and criminology major from Bossier

City, La. “You don’t know exactly what

went on while it was here, but with

each grave we dig up, with each piece

we find, we find more clues to that


Tiffany Grossman, a graduate student

in earth and quaternary sciences, used

the ground penetrating radar to map

out the cemetery’s perimeter before

working to sift through excavation’s

back dirt.


Continued on next page...

















Ethan Ellis shovels dirt from the pile that the backhoe lifted from the graves.

“I like to find out about people and how they

lived in the past, diseases that they may have

had and other conditions.” -Tiffany Grossman







“I like to find out about people and how

they lived in the past, diseases that they

may have had and other conditions,”

she said.

Phillips and the students have begun to

piece together that mystery. One grave

contains a man, “probably well over six

feet tall,” Phillips said. An elderly female

rests next to him. The next grave

contains a woman in her 30s, who lays

next to a man with achondroplasia,

which indicates dwarfism. The finding

of glass shards tells the scientists that

the people were buried from 1870 to

1910, as that’s when funeral homes

used glass viewing plates on coffins.

“Students have taken field schools and

they’ve taken a course with me, like

forensic anthropology, where they get

to learn how to study human remains,

how they learn to get information from

them, but this is extremely rare,” Phillips

said. “This is the first time in my 20

years of doing this kind of work where

I’ve been able to link up an actual

course with students getting to work on

a cemetery site.”

Cemeteries rarely are moved,

according to Phillips.

“I just think it’s the belief system

behind when someone’s interred

that they should stay there is the

reason cemeteries aren’t excavated

that frequently,” he said. “But

circumstances, situations come up that

cemeteries occasionally do have to be


In addition to their finds on the sifting

trays, students gather experience for

their futures.

“My ultimate goal is to be able to do the

same thing, but overseas helping locate

and recover soldier’s bodies,” Johnson

said. “I thought this would be really

good practice.”

Via Solaris • Fall 2012




As Shannon Rosser analyzes shellfish,

her childhood dream becomes a


“Working at the Smithsonian has been

a dream since I was a kid,” she said.

“Or, I wanted to be Indiana Jones.”

Rosser screamed when, sitting in

Indiana State University’s Cunningham

Memorial Library, she opened an

email stating she had been selected

to spend three months at the

Smithsonian Institution, interning at the

National Museum of Natural History in

Washington D.C. through the National

Historic Research Experiences


Rosser, a junior anthropology and

language studies major from Kansas

City, Kan., analyzed archaeological

shellfish remains from sites in

the Rhode River estuary and the

Smithsonian Environmental Research

Center in Maryland. Her goal was

to reconstruct changes in how

humans used shellfish during the last

3,000 years. She also conducted

experiments into the preservation

of archaeological materials and to

document Native American harvesting

and processing of shellfish.

With an interest in prehistoric cultures,

Rosser knows what she learns at the

Smithsonian won’t end when she

walks out the doors at the end of the


As a child, Rosser enjoyed learning

about the past and cultures that

passed through ancient times. The

more she learns about a past people,

the more connected she feels.

“The more you learn about it, humans

haven’t changed that much, except

through technology,” she said. “We

like to think we’re all sophisticated and

civilized, but we’re not. We’re the same

old thing.”

Rosser learned about the Smithsonian

internship through the McNair Graduate

Opportunity Program, which helps

low-income, first-generation college

students prepare for graduate school

with faculty mentors, research projects

and lectures.

“I’ll be the first person in my family

to graduate from college and go to

graduate school,” Rosser said.

She credited being a McNair Scholar

with helping her achieve her goals.

“It’s a good support program,” she

said. “It has been good to have faculty

and fellow students say, ‘Yes, you can,

you can do this.’”

Now, she hopes the internship is the

beginning of more great things.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity and

grateful for the people who helped

make it happen,” she said.


at the


has been a

dream since

I was a kid.”

-Shannon Rosser

“I’m going to be able to use that in the

future,” she said.

She hopes to conduct research in

the Middle East, as her interest lies

in studying the area in ancient times

during the rise of civilization. To aid

her in that, she’s studying Arabic and

plans to learn Akkadian, the language

of ancient Babylonians, so she can

translate ancient cultural clues.

Shannon Rosser sifts through dirt at an archaeological field site in Terre Haute.






















Switching majors from chemistry to

earth and environmental systems proved

to be a successful decision for Nicole


Thriving in her classes and conducting

research for the department, the Indiana

State University junior also presented

her research at the National Conference

on Undergraduate Research, the largest

undergraduate research forum in the


Terrell, from Bedford, Ind. and also

majoring in language studies with a

concentration in Latin, gave a poster

presentation on “Impacts of Coal Mining

on Soil Phosphorus Reservoirs: Results

from the Abandoned Friar Tuck Mine

Site, Sullivan County, Ind.,” research that

she has been working on for nearly two


“I was told that only so many were

accepted, and I’m the first one from ISU

to be accepted to this conference,” said

Terrell. “I was really excited.”

Terrell’s research examines the role of

phosphorus in plant growth and how

the biogeochemical cycling of the

phosphorus in the soil has been altered

by the mining and reclamation process.

to a broad audience and network

with potential graduate advisers,” said


“You have to be able to explain to

people, whether they’re chemists or

physicists or just everyday people,” said

Terrell. “You have to be able to explain it

in a way that everybody understands.”

Terrell thought the opportunity to

present would help her public speaking

skills, as well as further her learning.

“I hope that it will just give me a little

bit more confidence and give me

the experience of presenting in that

atmosphere of being in a strange place

and still knowing what I’m doing,” said

Terrell before the conference.

Though she is interested in working with

abandoned mine sites after graduation,

Terrell is open to possibilities and only

has one stipulation.

“I’d like to work outside,” she said.

Latimer acknowledged the benefits

that Terrell’s presentation could bring to

Indiana State.

“Participating in meetings like this also

Nicole Terrell and Laura Major

provide advertisement for our own

graduate programs at ISU,” she said. “If

other students find Nicole and Laura’s

research interesting, they may look

into ISU for a similar research project

for graduate school. This also provides

recognition that our students are

performing high quality research.”

Terrell’s research began within the SURE

program, or Summer Undergraduate

Research Experience, where students

apply concepts and lab skills while

working closely with professors on

research. It is also the reason Terrell

decided to change her major.

“I read through the options and

different areas that you could work

in,” said Terrell. “I’ve always loved the

environment...I chose that one, and after

working in that lab, I love the work that

I do.”

“In my mind, the SURE Program is

an ideal opportunity for students like

Nicole,” said Latimer. “As a result

of applying what she had learned in

classes and developing new ideas

based on her research, she has become

a much more confident and successful

student. I think she has a bright future

ahead of her.”






Laura Major, a senior chemistry major

from Roachdale, Ind., assisted with the

research and also co-presented at the


Jennifer Latimer, Terrell’s advisor

and associate professor of geology,

helped develop an abstract for the

research. Chosen from more than

3,500 submissions, Terrell and Major

presented their work in front of peers,

faculty and scientists from around the



“Participating in a national conference

like NCUR is a way for students to gain

experience presenting their research

Via Solaris • Fall 2012

Swapan Ghosh, Indiana State University professor of biology.






While conducting research on cancer,

Swapan Ghosh and a team of graduate

and doctoral students discovered a

phytol-derived adjuvant. That adjuvant

formula became U.S. Patent No.


“I’m so excited,” said Ghosh, Indiana

State University professor of biology,

about the completion of the process

that began in 2006. The patent

is in place for 24 years and the

university will now begin marketing it

to pharmaceutical companies. “We

believe that this adjuvant will be useful

in humans. We think this is possibly

one of the best in boosting the immune


Vaccines, which are used to enhance

an immune system, need an agent –

an adjuvant – to assist in deploying

them. Alum has been widely used

for years, but has come under attack

as a possible cause for neurological


“A few adjuvants have been discovered,

but they have side effects. We were

trying to develop something that has

fewer side effects, but boosts the

immune system,” Ghosh said. “Our

compound is an excellent boost to

the immune system and we haven’t

detected any side effects.”

The compound could be used to

boost immunity in cancer patients,

in veterinary clinics, aid in fighting

infectious agents and be used in

preparing laboratory agents and

diagnostic kits, Ghosh said.

Chlorophyll creates the green color in

green vegetables and one of its two

components is phytol.

“Phytol is one of the most widely

occurring natural compounds,” Ghosh

said. “People have tried phytol as

an adjuvant, but it can be toxic. We

used chemically modified phytol


Chemistry professors Richard

Kjonaas and Richard Fitch assisted in

modifying the compound. Students,

from undergraduates to doctoral

candidates, have worked on the project

gaining research experience with their


The adjuvant builds on a previous find

by Ghosh and his team of students.

That find resulted in patent number

7,642,045 for a biomarker that could

aid in determining disease.

“This compliments the previous one in

which we could monitor the progress in

the activation of the immune system,”

Ghosh said.

When they monitored dendritic cells,

they found a type of white blood cell

that could be activated by phytol

adjuvants. Ghosh and the university

have another patent pending on the

biomarkers for immune activation.


















Stepping into


By Jennifer Sicking

“The use of traveling is to regulate

imagination by reality, and instead of

thinking how things may be, to see

them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

“The journey of 1,000 li begins

with a single step.” – Old

Chinese Proverb

In Xinglongzhen of

Fengjie County, the

mayor eschewed

walking on the

sidewalk past the


buildings with

the black-

Zach Chike learns about Buddhism at a temple in Liaoning Province.

painted trim that bespoke of recent

government funding and building.

His dark-haired head held high with

his hands clasped behind his straight

back, the mayor walked in an even

tread, seemingly unaware of the

commotion that followed him.

Townspeople stepped out of shops

and stared. They paused in doorways

with smiles. They stopped chatting

with neighbors and left cards unplayed

in games at makeshift tables as they

watched the procession. Behind

the mayor walked 18 Indiana State

University students and faculty who

smiled, waved and said, “nihao” (hello)

as they passed in this impromptu


“We were almost treated as royalty,”

said Kyle Wright, a master of business

Via Solaris • Fall 2012

administration student from Terre

Haute. “I thought Americans weren’t

really well liked by the Chinese, but it is

actually quite the opposite.”

The next morning as Wright and others

ate a bowl of noodles in spicy broth

with a fried egg on top, the visitors

found themselves surrounded by

children who made a detour on their

way to school to see the Americans.

“They were so happy to see us and

it felt really cool to know you made

someone’s day like that,” he said. “I’m

sure we were probably the talk of the

school that day because they had just

never seen that before.”

Step One: Terre Haute

For two days, a class of 15 students

sat in Holmstedt Hall to begin

their study of environmentally and

culturally sustainable local economic

development. The students would

examine one country through a unique

approach in this course developed

in conjunction with The Center for

Global Engagement and International

Programs, which is part of the

university’s five-year and $5 million

Unbounded Possibilities project to help

address community and societal needs.

need to have a better understanding of

the Chinese economy and the Chinese


“Quite frankly, tensions are building

between the U.S. and China right

now at the political level between

leaders,” said Chambers. “If we want

to eventually overcome such tensions,

one way to do so is to get people from

both countries in contact so that we’re

not seeing each other as potential

adversaries, which is what’s happening

at the governmental level.”

“Given China’s status in the world

as one of the fastest developing

economies and one of the most

phenomenally increasing urban

and rural landscape change, it is a

great place to look at how economic

development, politics, culture and

environment all come together,” Aldrich


The students waited for that Thursday

morning when they would take the step

onto the airplane that would take them

John Conant discusses the effects of the Three Gorges Dam.

to the rising world power of China.

“It’s really great that I get to experience

China while getting class credit for it,”

said Nicole Coomer, senior psychology

and legal studies major from


Step Two: Shanghai

A soundtrack of blaring, beeping

car horns rose in cacophony before

subsiding to a din as drivers told

other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists,

rickshawers and moped riders to

clear the way; to warn of impending

disaster; or to, seemingly, joyfully add

their voices to the near-constant noise.

With 22 million card-carrying residents

and another estimated 5 million

“undocumented” Chinese immigrants

to the city, perhaps the Chinese people

can be excused for wanting to make

their voices heard above the milieu in

a space about the size of Indianapolis,

which has only about 800,000 residents.

“I was really overwhelmed because I

had never seen a city that big before,”

Continued on next page...

The class listened as John Conant,

economics department chair, spoke

about the changing economy of

China; as Mike Chambers, political

science chair, told of China’s politics

and its rise on the international scene;

and as Stephen Aldrich, assistant

professor of geography, lectured about

environmental issues in that country.

The students would study benefits

and costs, including the environmental

and cultural impacts, of the Three

Gorges Dam and the redevelopment

of Liaoning Province, part of China’s

old industrial rust belt, as well as

contrasting China’s rural areas with the

cities of Shanghai and Beijing.

“China’s economy is one that is

interesting from an academic and

intellectual perspective in terms of the

kinds of transformations and changes

it’s going through,” Conant said. “It is

also of growing importance as a market

for all kinds of businesses. Not just

business students, but all students


















said Wright. “I knew it was big, but I

didn’t know it was that big.”

“It seems like the people were going to

and from so many places,” said Zach

Chike, a senior communication major

from Rochester, Minn. “It just seems so


Construction cranes, joked to be the

national bird of China, perched over

Shanghai and much of the country as

skyscrapers rise from former farmland.

Students saw it first on the bus ride

from the Shanghai airport into the city.

“On the left side of the road, we saw

apartment buildings and mass factories

being built overnight and to our right

we saw small abandoned houses,” said

Mark Broeker, a senior political science

and public administration major from

Rockport, Ind.

It simply proved what the professors

had already told the students.

“China’s a rising power,” Chambers

said. “It has a huge impact

economically, increasing impact

politically, diplomatically. What better

way to understand something about

China than to come here and see it?

We can talk ‘til we’re blue in the face

about Shanghai and how cosmopolitan

is, but until you go and see it you don’t

really understand that.”

Step Three: Three Gorges and Three

Gorges Dam

Powering upstream on the Yangtze

River, the deep throb of the boat’s

engines broke through the stillness,

echoing off the steep green hills.

Professors and students craned

their necks as the boat made its way

through the Three Gorges. They

pointed out the new houses and new

towns, vibrant white against the drab

brown and gray of the older homes.

They saw roads running to nowhere

and paths dropping into the river from

tangles of trees. They watched cargo

ships stacked with containers float past

them downstream.

The reason for the new homes, towns

and unused paths lies downriver,

stretches almost a mile across and

reaches more than 180 meters high.

“It’s kind of the world’s biggest

environmental experiment,” said

Aldrich. “Let’s block a really major river

and see what happens.” The Three

Gorges Dam, built at a cost of $28

billion, raised the river’s water level by

100 meters and changed life forever.

It also tamed a raucous river known

for its murderous floods, improved

transportation in the mountainous rural

area and provides three percent of the

nation’s electricity.

That came at a cost.

The Chinese government moved at

least 1.5 million people where 140 cities

and 1,000 villages are now covered by

the river. Some cultural relics – more

than 1,200 archeological sites including

30 Stone Age sites – remained

unmoved and are now lost under the

water. About 100,000 acres of fertile

farmland, which yielded 10 percent of

Stephen Aldrich and Kyle Wright on the cruise up the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges.

China’s grain, was lost. Poorer water

quality has resulted in an up to 70

percent decline of fisheries, hurting

the people who relied on them for their

livings, below the dam. Some scientists

have speculated increased water

pressure on the tectonic plates could

trigger more earthquakes in an already

trembler-prone area.

“It’s one thing to talk about China, talk

about the rise of China, talk about

China building big, huge dams to

generate electricity or to control floods,”

Chambers said. “It’s another to come

here and see it and be on the reservoir

that’s been built up behind the dam

and to see the dam and how massive

it is.”

That’s something with which the

students agree.

“There’s a lot more information

that professors know than would

normally be discussed if you were

going on a vacation,” Coomer said.

“You get to see a little bit more of a

balanced perspective of the things

that you’re seeing and there’s different

perspectives even within that because

it’s three different disciplines.”

And yet on a cruise down the Yangtze

through the Three Gorges, the students

and professors also witnessed

the beauty of the paper-fan-folded

mountains dotted with new towns

and houses. Erin Pugh, a master of

business administration student from

Terre Haute, said the cruise would have

made it on her bucket list, if she had

created one.

“It was beautiful, just waking up in the

morning and seeing the mountains.

We were floating up a river and you

could look out a window, you could

go stand on the edge of the ship

and just look out and you could see

endless mountains and the beautiful

river,” she said. “It was an eye opening

experience, something that is a oncein-a-lifetime


Step Four: Liaoning Province

Alex Rodie sat still in the wooden chair

with his hands resting on his knees.

Calm, in his khaki shorts and gray

T-shirt, he gazed back at the inquisitive

faces of about 40 Chinese high school

students in Dalian, China. So far, he’d

answered their questions about his

Via Solaris • Fall 2012

favorite music, politics and Occupy Wall

Street. Then a girl stood, signaling she

had a question.

“What do you think about only 11 boys

in our class?” she said.

“I think it’s lucky for the boys, I guess,”

Rodie said without a pause, causing

the girls to giggle and the boys to

laugh. Later, after Rodie sang the

opening of “My Heart Will Go On” at

the students’ request, the senior history

major from West Terre Haute said,

“It’s always a good thing for students

in different countries to interact. It’s

beneficial to find the common ground

between both.”

Rodie and the other Indiana State

students and professors visited the

high school through Indiana State’s

partnership with Liaoning Normal

University in Dalian. ISU also partners

with Liaoning University, which also

helped to organize the ISU study trip.

“We believe that in the future China is

going to be one of the United States’

largest economic partners,” Conant

said. “Our students will be working

together; the more they understand

each other, the better that is going

to be and the more attractive our

graduates and alumni will be to

international employers.”

The journey took the students and

professors to Dalian and Shenyang

in Liaoning Province to see the

redevelopment in an area Aldrich

likened to parts of Indiana. “It is China’s

rust belt,” he said. “It was formerly

heavily industrial and now it is trying to

repurpose itself to more service-based

or high-value-added economic engine.”

Historically, Liaoning Province provided

an industrial base for manufacturing,

steel, oil and other heavy industries.

“The northeast has fallen a little bit

behind the more southern parts

of China so the Chinese Central

Government is attempting to revitalize

this area,” Conant said. “Liaoning

Coastal Development Zone is the

major aspect of that revitalization effort.

Since we are here studying sustainable

economic development, this is again

another really important place and way

to do that.”

Students went from being

Nicole Coomer speaks to Chinese students in Dalian, China.

overwhelmed in Dalian by the size of

an oil tanker under construction at a

shipyard to touring a fishing enterprise

diversifying into real estate and ferries

to navigating the city of Shenyang

with 263 roads under construction.

They hiked along the Yellow Sea in a

resort area in Dalian and drove past

tower after tower of apartments under


“Before I came to China I thought it

was going to be huge cities with lit up

buildings that were all well developed

and gorgeous,” said Krystal Barnhorst,

a sophomore athletic training major

from Sunman, Ind. “But, actually, since

being here I have seen that most of the

cities are still developing. They are still

really pretty, but a lot of them are still in

the process of being built.”

“I knew that China was a developing

country and that they were building

up, but I don’t think I understood the

extent of it, especially into some of the

more rural areas of China,” Rodie said.

“Seeing a lot of construction projects

was pretty mind blowing.”

Step Five: Beijing

Millions of feet have worn indents into

once even stone stairs placed in the

Jundu Mountains in 1368 by the Ming

Dynasty. Under emperor’s orders, the

Chinese built the steps, the military

garrison and the wall branching out

like giant wings to wrap the country in

protection. Soldiers stationed at the

one-time garrison, there were tasked

with keeping the foreign Mongol hordes

out of China.

Now, foreign and Chinese feet continue

to wear the grooves into the ancient

stones as visitors climb and walk along

the Great Wall. Highway traffic rumbles

under one section of the wall; the

occasional honking horn bouncing off

the hillsides.

“This is a place that’s legendary,” said

Garrett Hamblen, an MBA student from

Jamestown, Ind.

In Beijing, China’s open door to the

world through the 2008 Olympics,

students experienced the clash

between the modern and the old world.

They visited the Cube and the Bird’s

Nest, Olympic venues. In creating

a door to the world, the Chinese

destroyed hutongs, old neighborhoods

with warrens of narrow streets and

alleys with courtyard houses that

families called home for generations.

“China’s wealthy, but it’s not wealthy,”

Chambers said. “In class, I talk about

the wealth gaps, coastal versus inland,

cities versus rural areas. The students

can hear me talk about it, but now

they can come here and see it for


Photos from the trip:







A panel of leading criminologists

and experts discussed their views

on terrorism post 9/11 as part of

the third annual International Crime,

Media and Popular Culture Studies

Conference at Indiana State

















The three-day conference had

70 presenters and six featured

speakers from more than 60

universities and 15 countries

discussing the intersection of

crime, media and pop culture.

John Murray, College of Arts and

Sciences dean, called the panel

discussion an important component

of the conference.

“This conference is a wonderful

opportunity to hear experts discuss

crime in pop culture and media,”

Murray said. “It provides a rich

experience for our students and is

a benefit to them to hear a variety

of opinions.”

Frank Wilson, conference founder

and ISU assistant professor of

criminology and criminal justice,

said studying crime and popular

culture is beneficial to everyone.

“More often than not, crime and

crime issues are extremely overrepresented

in the media which

leads to increased fears of crime

and can subsequently lead to

support for harsher crime control

policies,” Wilson said.

The panel of experts discussed

“The Depiction of Terrorism in the

Decade Following 9/11” to a crowd

of students, community members

and other conference attendees in

a nearly full University Hall Theater.

Raymond Surette, Gary Potter,

Mark Hamm and Mitchel Roth

presented various terrorism-related

topics for discussion.

Gary Potter, Mark Hamm, Mitchel Roth and Raymond Surrette discuss the effect of 9/11 during the third annual

International Crime, Media and Popular Culture Studies Conference.

“I just hope the audience

understands that terrorism is a

complex and multifaceted crime,”

Hamm said at the end of the

discussion. “They just heard five

different ways of looking at it.”

Hamm, ISU’s terrorism expert,

discussed terrorism in other

countries including threats in the

United States.

“The threat is in Yemen and it’s in

Somalia and indeed it’s in our own

homegrown domestic terrorism

outfits here in the United States

as well as through Europe,” Hamm


Surette, from the University of

Central Florida, discussed the

shift to new media by posing the

question “If 9/11 was to happen

today as opposed to 10 years

ago, where would you go to get

information?” He recalled that at

the time of 9/11, many people went

to their televisions to see what

was happening in New York and

Washington D.C.

“Now people would use their

phones or the internet,” Surette

said. “9/11 marks the shift into a

new world that hasn’t really been


Potter, from Eastern Kentucky

University, discussed U.S.-

sponsored terrorism in Columbia.

The United Self-Defense Forces of

Columbia, also known as the AUC,

is funded by the United States even

though it has been designated as a

terrorist organization by the country

as well.

Roth, from Sam Houston State

University, evaluated how terrorism

is being taught. According to

Roth, people are aware of what

has happened recently, but do

not realize what terrorist acts

have occurred in the past. After

looking at his colleagues’ syllabi,

Roth noticed there is not much

information being communicated

about the history of terrorism.

“We have a lot of catching up to

do,” Roth said. “I advocate for a

different, more historical approach

to teaching about terrorism.”

Via Solaris • Fall 2012




It’s not the usual Indiana State

University classroom.

Carved wood paneling, heavy wooden

doors with brass knobs and brass

chandeliers hanging from the ceiling

imbue this room with a sense of

formality and presence of power.

Missing are the white boards, overhead

projectors and rows of desks.

But for the spring 2012 semester,

Matthew Bergbower, assistant

professor of political science, taught a

special class on Monday evenings in

room 233 at the Indiana Statehouse in

downtown Indianapolis. His students

came from universities across the state,

including ISU, and all worked as interns

for state senators and representatives.

“The instructor for that class rotates

year-to-year and Indiana State

University’s turn came up this year and

I was the lucky one to teach the class,”

Bergbower said.

In the class on Indiana politics,

Bergbower discussed current events,

the issues being debated, such as

Right to Work, as well as background

on historical matters related to Indiana.

“I want to give them a good base

knowledge on how the state’s historical

aspect is run, how we should change

our laws, good public policy, exploring

avenues for getting good public policy,”

he said. “I want to get some kind of

foundation in there so that over the

long term they can independently think

and independently address solutions

to public policy concerns that we may

have in the future.”

ISU senior Trent Fox took his first class

from Bergbower at the Statehouse

while working as an intern. “He molds

it around what’s going on,” said the

legal studies major. “It’s the history of

Indiana politics, why we are who we are

and what’s led to this.”

the faculty at ISU to teach state and

local government, including a class

on Indiana politics at the Terre Haute


“Coming here, interacting with some of

the members of the general assembly,

seeing some of their staff, seeing the

process work firsthand every Monday,

is a nice opportunity for me, as well, to

refresh myself on the current debates

and the current processes seen in state

government,” he said.

Bergbower came to ISU with

an insider’s knowledge of state

government after working for Illinois

Gov. Pat Quinn. In 2009 and 2010, he

interacted with the members of the

Illinois General Assembly and assisted

constituents in downstate Illinois while

he specialized in rural affairs, public

transportation and corrections.

“It wouldn’t be surprising if some

members of the Statehouse internship

program here didn’t address some of

the same concerns that I addressed

working for Gov. Quinn,” Bergbower

said. “So we can have a dialogue, the

students and I, about working day-today

in the state politics.”

Matthew Bergbower speaks to students at the Statehouse.

Working in state politics has turned into

a full-time position for Fox, who during

his internship was hired as a legislative

assistant for Rep. Suzanne Crouch,

Rep. Sue Ellspermann and Rep. Tim

Brown. Fox also plans to start law

school in the fall.

“If you’re interested in anything political,

this is the hub for it,” said Fox, about

the internship program. “This is a crash

course in how things work and you can

meet a lot of people.”

Bergbower called the internship

experience “wonderful” for the


State and local government work

influences Indiana and Terre Haute

residents through a myriad of ways,

including income taxes, education and

public parks.

“I think state and local government

does impact individual lives possibly

more so than what they probably

think,” Bergbower said. “You could go

on and on about the responsibilities

the state and local government have

over our day-to-day lifestyles, everyday

Americans, everyday Hoosiers.”

Two years ago, Bergbower joined


The Magazine of the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana State University


U.S. Postage


Permit No. 48

College of Arts and Sciences

Stalker Hall 2nd Floor

Terre Haute, IN 47809

Phone: 812.237.2411

Fax: 812.237.8266

Email: ascsaa@mail.indstate.edu

Online: http://www.indstate.edu/cas/

Find us on Facebook!

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday

8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.



Via Solaris, the magazine of the College of Arts and Sciences,

takes its name from the 20-foot bronze and steel sculpture, created

by New York artist John Van Alstine. The sculpture has graced the

north side of Stalker Hall on the Indiana State University campus

since 2007.

This significant work, which combines aspects of astronomy,

physical science, and contemporary art, has a special relevance

in a university setting passionately interested in the relationship

between the arts and sciences.

Via solaris is Latin for way or road of the sun. Designed for its

specific location on campus, the sculpture so named marks each

year’s two solstices and two equinoxes. On those days, as the

sun reaches its highest point in the sky and shines through a

long hole in the sculpture, it makes a small circle of sunlight on

a black granite marker below, representing one of mankind’s

oldest means of marking the days.

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!