News and Events

UE Announces Hiring of Evansville Promise Neighborhood Leadership, Team

The University of Evansville (UE) has announced the hiring of five full-time employees including a director to lead the Evansville Promise Neighborhood team. In March, UE announced the receipt of a $30 million federal grant program through the United States Department of Education (DOE) that will establish the Evansville's Promise Neighborhood (EPN). UE was part of a new cohort founded this year and one of only three Neighborhoods in the nation to be awarded in 2023.

In recent months, UE's Center for Innovation & Change, where the Promise employees will be housed, together with the Promise Neighborhood partners, dedicated significant efforts to procuring applications and conducting interviews for potential candidates. UE is delighted to extend a warm welcome to these new additions who have joined our family.

EPN Team Member Headshots

"We are confident that these new team members will play a pivotal role in advancing our mission and making a meaningful difference in the lives of our community," said UE President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz. "Their expertise and passion for community development will greatly contribute to the success of the Evansville Promise Neighborhood. I'm looking forward to seeing the positive impact this project will have on our community, fostering opportunities for education, growth, and prosperity."

Director - Derek McKillop

McKillop is the immediate past Director of Community Learning Centers for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. He brings a wide range of knowledge on how to leverage federal grant opportunities for the youth, how to manage resources in a way that builds capacity, and how to lead by empowering people he serves. McKillop has been a core team member on several EPN applications. He received his bachelor's degree in Business from University of Strathclyde in Scotland, with graduate training from Harvard in building partnerships for equity, justice, and student success.

Program Coordinator - Lisa Allen

Allen joins us with a wealth of experience and a service-oriented mindset. Previously serving as an Employment Specialist for Work One Southwest in Evansville, Allen's well-connected nature and empathetic approach will be instrumental in coordinating programs and managing calendars. She has been actively involved in various neighborhood organizations such as Head Start, Catholic Charities, Job Works, and Youth Build. She earned her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Southern Indiana.

Marketing Coordinator - Irais Ibarra

Ibarra just graduated from the University of Evansville with a bachelor's degree in Marketing. She brings a great deal of experience in innovative marketing techniques as the former Chief Executive Officer of Embrace Marketing Agency, a student-run ChangeLab at UE. Embrace has worked with Jacobsville Advantage, Gayla Cakes, Foster Care in the U.S., and many other Promise Neighborhood organizations and partners. This work helped her develop a passion for serving nonprofits, and we're thrilled to keep one of UE's best and brightest right here in our community.

Data & Program Evaluation Manager - Dr. Stephanie Doneske

Dr. Doneske, a research scientist and PhD-trained chemical engineer, brings a unique blend of expertise to the team. Previously, she taught math in local schools in Houston and Evansville after working at a biotech start-up in Houston. Driven by a passion for community improvement and a deep love for learning, we are confident she will be an exceptional partner for our data team at UE and with Diehl Consulting.

Grant Accountant - Renee Heil

Heil, previously the Finance and Operations Senior Manager for Junior Achievement, joins us as the Grant Accountant. With her master's degree in Accountancy and proven ability to ask the right questions and develop effective solutions, she will be an invaluable asset in managing the funds necessary to complete the work of the Promise Neighborhood.

The Center for Innovation & Change will be working hard to onboard these team members through the next month. All employees are expected to begin by August 1.

The aim of the Promise Neighborhood funding is to assist children and youth who are growing up in Promise Neighborhoods, providing them with access to outstanding schools as well as robust family and community support systems. These resources will help prepare them to achieve academic excellence, make the transition to college, and, ultimately, embark on a successful career.

To learn more about the Evansville Promise Neighborhood, please visit

Evansville Promise Neighborhood Logo

UE's Center for Innovation & Change to Expand Reach

The University of Evansville (UE) has announced an expansion of the Center for Innovation & Change (CIC) to better serve the regional community.

In June 2023, Faculty Director Dr. Derek Jones will transition to the new role of Director of Field Innovation for the Center for Innovation & Change. In addition to designing workshops and professional development opportunities through the CIC, Dr. Jones will work with high schools throughout southeastern Indiana to develop social innovation programs that will equip high school students with the tools they need to improve their communities in innovative and meaningful ways. He will also work with these programs to help students develop projects for the University of Evansville's High School Changemaker Challenge (sponsored by Toyota).

Dr. Jones also plans to build a regional information-sharing network that will give participating students and faculty access to updated research on the science, methods, and ethics of innovation and design, as well as to allow them to share information and support one another in their changemaking journey. Dr. Jones will be regionally operational, but also returning to Evansville once a month to continue support for Evansville-based ChangeLab faculty and K-12 Changemaker teachers.

Dr. Jones is no stranger to the University. He received a BA and BFA from UE in 2003. He served as an officer in the Army after graduating, and then went on to earn an MA in Philosophy from the University of Houston in 2007 and a PhD in Philosophy from Indiana University in 2013. As a member of the UE faculty, he directed the Cognitive Science program from 2013-2023 and served as Faculty Director for the Center for Innovation & Change (CIC) from 2021-2023, helping shape ChangeLab programming through a faculty lens and expanding Design Thinking capacity. His academic interests include the psychology of creativity, skill acquisition, the philosophy of technology, and embodied cognition, and he has published a book and several articles on topics in these areas.

Dr. Jones sees his new role as a practical extension of his previous academic work.

"It's no secret to young people that the world could be quite a bit better than it currently is, but many are uncertain of how to do anything about it. I am excited to have the opportunity, not only to help students throughout our region think critically and creatively about how the world could be better, but also to give them the confidence and the tools they need to enact positive, sustainable change," said Dr. Jones.

"This move allows the University of Evansville to strategically expand what Toyota has made possible for young people in this area through the Changemaker Challenge," said Erin Lewis, Executive Director of the CIC. "No longer will proximity to our office define whether or not a young changemaker can receive support. Dr. Jones will be a bridge between our university and our community, surfacing dozens of students who will find a home at UE, while still supporting our current faculty. We couldn't be more excited about this innovative new era."

K-12 schools interested in talking to Dr. Jones about developing a changemaker pipeline should contact him directly at

Derek Jones at whiteboard

Changemaker Highlight of the Week: Imelda Salgado

Imelda Salgado is earning a public health degree with a minor in medical Spanish. She enrolled at the University of Evansville (UE) as a Fellows Scholar in the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As a first-generation college student from Indianapolis, Imelda was shy, quiet, and didn't always feel comfortable asking for help. However, she wanted to challenge herself and found a way to do that through ChangeLab.

During her freshman year, Imelda was the project coordinator for a ChangeLab course with the goal of ascertaining healthcare challenges of the local Latino community.

With guidance from their professor, Dr. Cindy Crowe, assistant professor of Spanish, Imelda's ChangeLab team dug deep and made a difference. Through surveys and interviews, focus groups and translation services, they brought important healthcare resources directly to the community members who needed them.

"I couldn't believe I was the one making the phone calls and talking to people - this was so outside my comfort zone, but it's exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to challenge myself, and UE gave me that chance," Imelda says.

Imelda has worked with the Latino Community Healthcare ChangeLab ever since her freshman year, growing the project from communication, education, and vaccine access during the COVID-19 pandemic to broader access to healthcare resources and language learning. The group has made connections in local schools to help young Latino students have a safe afterschool activity where they could feel comfortable practicing English. The ChangeLab also hosts regular meetings at a local church where they provide adult English learners opportunity to learn and practice the language.

Imelda is a true changemaker. She is always unafraid to live outside her comfort zone while pursuing meaningful change and has grown in leadership capabilities and confidence every step of the way.

Imelda Salgado headshot

UE Theatre's Rogue and Peasant Aces present ANIMAL FARM

After a two-year hiatus, the University of Evansville Theatre Department has announced the return of the Rogue and Peasant Aces, their traveling performance troupe, with ANIMAL FARM, based on the book by George Orwell and adapted by Ian Wooldridge.

Performances are at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, April 15 and Saturday, April 22, on the UE campus, in the John David Lutz Theatre Lab.

George Orwell's satire on the perils of Stalinism has proved a magnificently long-lived parable about totalitarianism and has given the world at least one immortal phrase: "Some are more equal than others." This dramatization remains faithful to the book's plot and intent and retains both its affection for the animals and the insightfulness of its message.

The aim of the Rogue and Peasant Aces is to provide accessible theatre experiences for individuals who otherwise may not have exposure to the arts. This spring, the Rogue and Peasant Aces are touring to various high schools in the area to perform.

ANIMAL FARM is directed by Rebecca Conaway, a senior theatre studies major, from Wellsburg, W. Va.; Liam Arney, a first-year design and technology major, from McAllen, Texas, serves as the costume and properties coordinator; Josie Madzik, a first-year theatre studies major, from Howell, Mich., is the dramaturg; and William Cooper Sanders, a first-year performance major, from Jeffersonville, Ind., is the stage manager.

Each role is shared by two actors, who will alternate between shows. The cast includes Benjamin Bravard, a senior performance major, from Batavia, Ohio, and Drake J. Susuras, a junior performance major, from Broomfield, Colo., sharing the roles of Old Major, Boxer, and Young Animal; Mason Norton, a first-year performance major, from Bremen, Ind., and Devyn Jolgren, a junior performance major, from Louisville, Ky., sharing the role of Squealer; Trace Levens, a first year performance major, from Bryan, Texas, and Jeff Parkinson, a senior performance major, from Mercer Island, Wash., sharing the role of Napoleon; Quinn McGaugh, a first-year performance major, from McAlester, Okla., and Caden Sevier, a junior performance major, from Humble, Texas, sharing the roles of Snowball and Benjamin; Elizabeth Dye, a senior performance major, from Frisco, Texas, and Kennedy Olson, a first-year performance major, from Porter, Texas, sharing the role of Clover; and Beverley Buchanan, a junior performance major, from Tomball, Texas, and Alyssa Meadows, a first-year performance major, from Louisville, Ky., sharing the roles of Moses, Mollie, Minimus, and Pilkington.

UE Theatre's Rogue and Peasant Aces is a part of the Ashoka U Changemaker Program. This leading global designation is part of a dynamic, global network of leading colleges and universities who set the bar for social innovation and changemaking in higher education.

Tickets for the two on-campus performances are free to the public and seating is general admission. The new John David Lutz Theatre Lab is limited to 87 seats. Tickets may be reserved at or by calling the ticket office at 812.488.2031, open from noon to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Rogue and Peasant Aces logo

University of Evansville, STARTedUP Foundation announce pitch competition regional qualifiers

With nearly 2500 statewide sign ups, the STARTedUP Foundation's Innovate WithIN program is the largest high school pitch competition in the country. During the month of April, fifty-two teams across Indiana will be competing to qualify for the state competition with the top two teams from each region progressing onto state.

"In addition to having another record-breaking year, we have seen such an improvement in the quality of student's pitches and heard from educators of how they have seen a mindset shift in their classrooms," said Don Wettrick, co-founder and CEO of the STARTedUP Foundation. "As an educator of 25 years, when you bring a mindset of innovation into the classroom, things change for students. These young people are able to visualize real-world opportunities and are challenged to explore their own entrepreneurial passions."

On April 10, ten student teams will be competing in the Region 1 competition hosted by the University of Evansville, who has removed barriers for students to attend their school by offering scholarships and making connections within their university and community.

"We are honored and excited to host this pitch competition at University of Evansville," said Dr. Beverly Brockman, Schroeder Family Dean of the College of Business & Engineering. "Pitch competitions provide a great opportunity for students to collaborate with other students, mentors, investors, and industry experts. Hosting this event allows us to create an environment that fosters collaboration and networking, which can be beneficial for these students' professional development."

In addition to the financial and relational opportunities offered by the University of Evansville, students are connected to business and civic leaders who also have a passion for innovation and entrepreneurship, especially as they look ahead to growing their future workforce ecosystem.

Individuals from across the state are invited to attend their local competition and experience these impressive student pitches. Residents may join in person on April 10th at the University of Evansville from 8:30AM - 1:00PM CST or attend virtually. More details and registration information can be found at:

  • The Region 1 participating teams are as follows:
  • Cruzin' Cabs
    • Breanna Lawrence, Seymour Senior High School
  • Dr. Orthopedic
    • Claire Deardorff, Signature School Inc.
    • Jennifer Vazquez, Signature School Inc.
  • Fleetwise
    • Peyton Chitwood, The Academy of Science & Entrepreneurship
  • Legaltec
    • Jude Allaw, Signature School Inc.
    • Ethan Hilton, Signature School Inc.
    • Mann Patel, Signature School Inc.
  • Music Makers
    • Aparna Kudiyirkkal Anil, Signature School Inc.
    • Sreya Yelamanchili, Signature School Inc.
  • Pure Pup
    • Rue Henderson, Mount Vernon High School
    • Kyra Rainey, Mount Vernon High School
    • Malley Wagner, Mount Vernon High School
  • Sid's Studio
    • Siddhant, Jain, Columbus North High School
  • Virtual Pet Prep
    • Jack Megnin, Bloomington High School South
    • Nolan Risen, Bloomington High School South
    • Noah Spicer, Bloomington High School South
  • Voluntabs
    • Jennie Amador, Signature School Inc.
    • Nicole Diab, Signature School Inc.
    • Grayson Koch, Signature School Inc.
  • Z&M Promotions
    • Zayden Kinsey, New Tech Institute
    • Mathis Rogers, New Tech Institute

About The STARTedUP Foundation

The STARTedUP Foundation officially launched in 2018 to start building the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. This is accomplished through three key initiatives: Spark, Develop, and Accelerate. Beginning with sparking innovation through the Innovate WithIN pitch competition; continuing to develop students through an educator fellowship; and accelerating innovation through the creation of an alumni association for all students previously engaged with STARTedUP.

About Innovate WithIN

STARTedUP's innovation pitch competition, Innovate WithIN, is the most elite entrepreneurial pitch competition in the country, with ten teams selected within each of Indiana's five regions to compete in the first round of the competition and the top two teams from each region invited to compete in the Innovate WithIN State Finals. These top teams are competing for $25,000 in seed funding to launch their company, product, or idea.

University of Evansville Programs Recognized during Annual Leadership Everyone Awards

Several University of Evansville (UE) ChangeLabs won awards during the 28th annual Celebration of Leadership program hosted by Leadership Everyone.

Celebration of Leadership is an annual event during which Leadership Everyone honors individuals, projects, programs, businesses, and organizations that make significant, collaborative contributions that improve and transform community in the Tri-State region.

"We are very proud of what our students and faculty accomplish through their work in ChangeLabs," said Erin Lewis, executive director of the Center for Innovation & Change, which facilitates ChangeLab at UE. "Every day we are inspired by the passion, talent, and ingenuity of our students and the UE community and truly honored to empower them as they serve."

ChangeLab is a multi- and inter-disciplinary academic offering at the University of Evansville. Through this program, students and faculty can propose projects that make a positive difference in the community and around the world and then get to work on these transformative initiatives while earning academic credit. ChangeLab courses are made up of individuals from nearly all areas of study and explore topics ranging from data analytics to housing and food insecurity to healthcare and educational topics.

"We feel a great sense of pride for our community members in their accomplishments by being recognized with Leadership Everyone Awards," said UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. "As a Changemaker Campus, UE is dedicated to empowering students and faculty as they work to make the world more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive. We are honored to see their efforts recognized in our community."

Below is a list of the students and programs recognized with the 28th Annual Celebration of Leadership Awards.

Annie Kim

UE United Sound

2023 Sam Featherstone Youth Award

Annie Kim is a sophomore biology major and concertmaster for the UE Symphony Orchestra. Over the past two semesters, she has established and championed UE United Sound, a student club and ChangeLab course at UE based on the national group aimed at removing barriers and fostering social change through music. UE United Sound trains UE music students to teach younger students with disabilities how to play instruments, and gives them exciting opportunities to perform, such as at the Victory Theatre for the Holiday Pops concert.

Jack Deig

Hydration Station

2023 Sam Featherstone Youth Award

As a high school student, Jack Deig identified a problem in our community-not everyone has access to filtered drinking water. He entered UE's High School Changemaker Challenge with his idea to provide clean drinking water to all through Hydration Stations. Continuing his work at UE ChangeLab, he has now installed a free drinking water machine at Patchwork Central, and more are being installed around Evansville's downtown, specifically targeting those experiencing homelessness.

Joshua Academy Music Instruction ChangeLab

Coach Fran Vile, UE Clinical Instructor of Music

2023 Arts Award for a Project or Program

Through this course led by Fran Vile of UE's Music Conservatory, music education students Will McDonner and Luke Robertson have established and cultivated an instrumental music program at Joshua Academy. Beginning with a closet full of forgotten, dusty, and broken instruments, they repaired or replaced the instruments and taught students to read and play music, finishing the year with a popular performance and partnering with the Academy's choir.

Data Analytics ChangeLab

Coach Omid Khormali, UE Assistant Professor of Mathematics

2023 Leader in Technology Award

UE's Data Analytics ChangeLab, led by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Omid Khormali, puts its students' talents to use for the community. They have served Deaconess, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's iCivics, and COVID Between the Coasts, a partnership with WNIN. Last semester, their project took data received from the United States Forestry Service and created a tool for them to identify trends in invasive species and forest fires. The Data Analytics ChangeLab students have also been asked to testify before Congress about the project.

Children's Mental Health ChangeLab

Coach Jennie Braun

2023 Project and Program Division Award

When children need mental health testing, it is often a year-long wait. The students at UE's Children's Mental Health ChangeLab collaborated with parents and doctors in our community to identify the root causes of this issue, and then developed a well-designed, multi-tiered solution. They make it easy to view eligible doctors and wait times and use UE's Doctor of Psychology program to help with the backlog of doctors and paperwork, increasing affordability and speed of testing for kids.

Changemaker Highlight of the Week: Latino Community Outreach

The University of Evansville's (UE) Latino Community Outreach ChangeLab functions to assist the local Latino community with their needs. From translation of materials and documents, to helping during vaccination clinics, the members of this ChangeLab work diligently to ensure the local Latino community have readily available resources.

Members of the ChangeLab have assisted with various forms of education. The group has incorporated "Latino Healthcare," a workshop presented by these ChangeLab students to medical providers in the Ascension southern region of Indiana. This encompasses all representatives and managers of primary care and essentially all specialty practices, urgent cares, and Tri State Community Clinics.

They have also held events spotlighting breast cancer awareness and included screening and free mammograms for Latinas in conjunction with Ascension St. Vincent.

The Latino Community Outreach ChangeLab works extensively in the community. Members have hosted meetings with middle school Latino students and parents to promote bilingualism, and to explain the need for bilingual healthcare professionals. The goal of these meetings is to acquaint Latinos with the Medical Professions Academy at Central High School and walk them through the application process. The group has also visited with elementary students who speak little English to encourage them to continue speaking Spanish and be proud of their culture.

The work continues to evolve and has included afterschool programs teaching diverse students in K-8 grades basic Spanish vocab and Hispanic culture. At Carver Community Organization's Afterschool Program and Washington Middle School Afterschool Program, the ChangeLab created a Club de Espanol.

Every Sunday, English as a Second Language Classes are held at Holy Rosary Catholic Church to help Latinos develop greater proficiency in English to benefit their work in society as a whole.

ChangeLab students who have taken Spanish throughout high school or who have taken classes in college (as well as native speakers) enjoy these educational initiatives and serve as interpreters and translators for these projects.

Changemaker Highlight of the Week: People for Pollinators

Elyse Talley, University of Evansville biology, and ethics major, wanted to study the research-implementation gap, particularly as it relates to native plants' importance to conservation efforts. She found there was plenty of research into the importance of native plants for pollinators such as bees, and how increasing the number of native plants and pollinator zones will be immensely helpful in improving environmental stability. But as important as that research is, there was not as much material available on how to educate and invigorate a community around the concept.

Increasing the native plant population will lead the way to a healthier, cleaner environment, and Elyse wanted to figure out how to make that happen on a large scale.

So she set out to close that gap. With the guidance of Professor of Biology Cris Hochwender, Elyse spent the Summer of 2022 in the University of Evansville's Native Plant Garden, identifying plants and bees. She paid close attention to which plants attracted which bees and monitoring their pollination habits and efficacy and began laying the groundwork for her ChangeLab, called People for Pollinators.

In the Fall 2022 semester, she worked hard to make connections in the community, ultimately forming meaningful connections with John James Audubon State Park, Seton Harvest, Wesselman Woods, Warrick and Vanderburgh Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Indiana Native Plant Society. Through these connections, she has been involved in coordinating local events for raising awareness and also distributing what Elyse has called "Seeds of Change" - packets of native plant seeds that include care instructions.

Currently in its second full semester, People for Pollinators is UE's largest ChangeLab with 16 students enrolled. The team is multidisciplinary, with students from biology, environmental science, communication, literature, psychology, and exercise science. Together, they have continued preparing Seeds for Change seed packets, raising awareness of native plants through social media and community events. Their efforts will culminate in the Spring 2023 Earth Day Celebration on UE's campus when native plants and seed packets will be given away free.

The work that Elyse has undertaken is immense and important. The community she has become a part of has been inspired and invigorated by her efforts. She recently was awarded the Community Conservationist Award from the Vanderburgh County Soil & Water Conservation District.

Elyse Talley holding sign

UE student-run Marketing Agency Spearheads Local Organization's Fundraising Efforts

Embrace, the University of Evansville (UE) student-run marketing and communications agency, is utilizing its services to help a local organization fundraise for its upcoming collaborative community kitchen.

The organization, Bedford Collab, LLC, was founded in 2020 by Merrick Korach. Its vision is to provide local food entrepreneurs with a place to grow their businesses while bringing economic development and restoration to the South Side of Evansville.

Bedford Collab and Embrace's relationship began in February 2022 and has since expanded to include a variety of marketing projects.

Currently, Bedford Collab is raising funds for its community kitchen space. In September 2022, the City of Evansville approved a plan to allocate $170,000 in matching funds to the organization. Efforts to increase donations started in October 2022 through the design of a branded slide deck. Since then, Embrace has developed a website for Bedford Collab and managed a crowdfunding campaign on its social media platforms.

Bedford Collab turned to Embrace in a joint venture to help both entities attain their goals. The Bedford Collab vision aligns with what Embrace hopes to achieve in the community.

"Embrace, like Bedford Collab, exists to support and create opportunities for growth in the Evansville community. Bedford Collab is aiming to improve the quality of life in the Tepe Park Community," said Chief Executive Officer of Embrace Irais Ibarra. "Embrace strives to create a community in which everyone can enjoy the benefits of high-quality and affordable marketing. Passion is what unites us."

"The Embrace team has been nothing short of amazing," said Bedford Collab CEO Merrick Korach. "These students have harnessed their gifts and skills to tell a vivid story surrounding the journey of Impact Evansville and Bedford Collab. We have been able to scale our impact with their services, and recommend the team to anyone looking to invest in the next generational talent."

Real-world business experiences give Embrace team members relevant experience when job searching. To date, about 30 individuals have graduated from Embrace. These alums have a 100 percent employment rate with either a full-time position or are pursuing higher education. Students have often been hired for above-entry-level positions because of their relevant agency experience.

Embrace Marketing and Communications launched in October 2018 as a Changelab course. Now in its 10th consecutive semester, the agency operates year-round and sustains itself through a for-profit business model. Over the years, Embrace has worked with over 60 clients across numerous industries, including small businesses, start-ups, national corporations, non-profits, and political candidates. The Embrace organization seeks to set its students up for post-graduate success.

For more information about Bedford Collab, visit To connect with Embrace Marketing and Communications, please visit

Changemaker Highlight of the Week: Annie Kim, United Sound

In Fall 2022, Annie Kim began the work of establishing UE United Sound, a student club and ChangeLab course at the University of Evansville. Annie is a sophomore biology major and is concertmaster for the UE Symphony Orchestra. As a student at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana, Annie became involved in United Sound and had a dream of bringing the program to the University of Evansville. 

United Sound is a national organization founded in 2014 with a mission of removing barriers and fostering social change through music. With that program’s support, UE United Sound trains peer mentors (UE music students) to bring the joy of music to students who have disabilities. Mentors and musicians work together to learn how to read music and play an instrument. This is a very special program that gives these musicians newfound confidence and community as well as experiences they may not have had access to otherwise. 

In December 2022, Annie’s United Sound students had the opportunity to perform on stage at the Victory Theatre with the UE Symphony Orchestra in front of a packed house for the annual Holiday Pops concert. 

Establishing a new program at any institution is always going to be more challenging than first expected, and that was certainly the case for Annie. However challenging, Annie was undaunted. She reached out to individuals all over campus to learn policies and processes and powered through with her goal of establishing the group. The opportunities provided to students as well as the experience gained by peer mentors was the driving force behind growing through every new challenge. 

UE United Sound has continued into the Spring and is growing as the musicians increase their skills and competencies and take on more challenging musical concepts. Rehearsals have now begun for the group to perform again on April 18 at the Victory Theatre during the Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble Spring Concert, which is free and open to the public. 

By providing opportunities for students with disabilities to learn how to play an instrument and read music, and by providing a path to a performance on a premier stage, Annie has shown a commitment to ensuring every student has access to the highest quality music education. The stated goal of United Sound is lived out through Annie’s commitment to the program: “We know that the joy of learning and performing music is life-changing. We believe that all children should have access to meaningful and authentic music education and musical experiences.” 

For more information and a great article and video about this program, visit, which ran a feature leading up to the Holiday Pops performance. 

Annie Kim and UE United Sound

Fifth Third Bank Provides Additional Investment to UE's Embrace for Expanded Services Outside of The Jacobsville Advantage

Embrace, the University of Evansville (UE) student-run marketing and communications agency, and Fifth Third Bank have announced the renewal of a $15,000 grant that will expand its reach to include funding for nonprofits outside the Jacobsville community.

In October 2021, The Jacobsville Advantage was initially launched to help fuel growth and development for businesses in their community. At the time, Fifth Third Bank provided an initial $25,000 grant to kickstart the endeavor, and they have recently invested an additional $15,000 to support ongoing services to help Jacobsville businesses meet their marketing needs at an affordable price.

To celebrate the grant renewal, Embrace and Fifth Third Bank is hosting a Marketing Panel and Creative Solutions event on February 25 at the Fifth Third Center. The event will provide an opportunity for additional local businesses to find affordable solutions to their marketing needs.

The event is open to any non-profit or for-profit business. Embrace will hold one-on-one meetings with their marketing and media experts to specifically address business needs and answer any questions. In addition, Embrace will offer website and social media set-up at the event.

Under the grant, Embrace completed projects for five Jacobsville businesses within the last year. Project highlights include designing a flyer for Gayla Cake and a map brochure for the Jacobsville Community Cooperative; launching a website for The Jacobsville Fine Art Association and Foster Care in the US; and creating a video advertisement for Zesto.

Irais Ibarra, Chief Executive Officer of Embrace, says the goal is to expand and cultivate community relationships by investing in small businesses and non-profits.

"What we really want as an agency is to grow alongside our clients by developing our own capabilities, and we believe this opportunity will provide the first steps in helping these organizations embrace their potential," said Ibarra.

"Fifth Third Bank has been a proud sponsor of the Jacobsville Advantage project and we are excited to see Embrace take it to the next level by expanding the project to include non-profits throughout our region. This key change in Embrace's strategy will enable even more well deserving organizations take advantage of the great services Embrace provides to our community." said Neely Pierce, Evansville City President, S.V.P.

About Embrace

Embrace Marketing and Communications was founded in October 2018 at the University of Evansville to provide students with real-world business experience. Its mission is to provide its clients with innovative, high-quality marketing and communications services. For more information, please visit To connect with The Jacobsville Advantage, please visit

Changemaker Highlight of the Week: Joshua Academy Band Project

Since 2019, a small number of students in University of Evansville's Music Conservatory have been leading a new band program at Joshua Academy in Evansville, Indiana. The group took a temporary hiatus in 2020 through the pandemic, but picked the program back up in 2021 and have steadily grown its participation and capabilities.

Joshua Academy principal Arvenda McDonald reached out to UE Music Conservatory faculty member Fran Vile, UE Clinical Assistant Professor of Music, with an idea to start a band program at the academy. She had found a closet filled with old instruments and wondered about the possibility.

Fran in turn reached out to Erin Lewis, Executive Director of UE's Center for Innovation & Change and said "Is this possible?" And Erin said, "Let's make it a ChangeLab." Fran took it from there, and instrumental music education students began the Joshua Academy band program in the fall of 2019.

A ChangeLab is a project-based course offered at the University of Evansville where students can earn academic credit while working on passion projects that help improve the community. So far this year there are 20 ChangeLabs being offered on topics ranging from music education, food access, data analytics for the National Forest Service, environmental sustainability, and many more. More than 100 students are registered in these courses.

For this course, UE music education students worked with Joshua Academy to grow a music program from the ground up. Beginning with assessing viability of current instruments to recruiting the first few students to the program, and even arranging music to suit their capabilities, the project has been a success so far.

"Music is flourishing at Joshua Academy," said Will McDonner, a senior music education major at UE. He and his colleague Luke Robertson, also a senior music education major, have led the project beginning in 2021.

The group meets at 7:00 in the morning before classes begin. Together, with Vile's advice, McDonner and Robertson have navigated challenges of recruiting, scheduling, communicating between students and parents, and finally teaching students what music is and how to read it and play an instrument.

It doesn't always go smoothly, and plans don't always work out the way they expect. But that hasn't kept the program from being successful. When things get particularly challenging, McDonner says, "We're going to push ahead and see how much music we can make."

In its first semester, six Joshua Academy students "met" instruments and chose their favorite to learn, practiced and rehearsed regularly, and then performed a concert at the end of the year. The following semester, the group nearly doubled. And, thanks to grant funding received by the school, several brand-new instruments were made available.

"The real-world experience in music education is invaluable," said Vile. "Students leading this program hope to teach music professionally and building this band program has given them experiences that they would never get reading textbooks and studying theory in the classroom."

"We are so impressed and proud of what these students have accomplished," said Lewis. "These types of community-building projects are what ChangeLab is all about. Teaching young people how to read music and play instruments is an experience that will benefit them for years to come."

The Fall 2023 semester will be the third semester for this program. This program has been nominated for a Leadership Everyone award.

Changemaker Band Project

Changemaker Challenge Winners Receive Scholarships

High school students throughout the tri-state were awarded significant scholarships on Tuesday at the University of Evansville's ninth High School Changemaker Challenge, sponsored by Toyota Indiana.

The challenge is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world through innovation and creativity.

UE has committed more than $1 million in scholarships to winners of this competition since its inception. Those who choose UE as their college destination will each receive four-year scholarships as listed below:

1st place: Full tuition
Heroes Among Us: Tyler Myers (Evansville Day School)
Summary: Heroes Among Us is an interactive app that will equip schools with a curriculum that allows them to educate kids about sensory needs.

Tyler Myers holding trophy and check

2nd place: $27,000 per year
Ticket to Health: Sophie Rodionova and Maryam Adeel (Signature School)
Summary: The language barrier should not mean the difference between the quality of life a patient has and could have. As Evansville grows and becomes diverse, we need to provide for the needs of a diverse community. Ticket to Health is a medical booklet that will contain questions specifically tailored to each doctor's needs. It will include the most common languages in Evansville: Spanish, Ukrainian, Russian, Urdu, and Mandarin. Different colors will represent various specialties, and each language will have a translation to English.

2nd place winner holding check and trophy.

3rd place: $23,000 per year
QuickSports: Prab Jayachandran and Kaden Oberlander (Signature School)
Summary: An app that connects sports players and brings them to the best sports location near them. QuickSports is the go-to app for anyone looking to find friends and play sports in a large group as fast as possible.

3rd place winners holding check and trophy.

On Tuesday, January 24, a panel of judges heard pitches from the top 20 teams and individual students who were invited to the in-person competition. Six ideas were then chosen for the championship round, from which judges awarded first, second, and third place.

Embrace's Jacobsville Advantage Receives $15K Investment from Fifth Third

Embrace, the University of Evansville (UE) student-run marketing and communications agency, will continue offering discounted services to local businesses through the Jacobsville Advantage. Fifth Third Bank provided an initial $25,000 grant to kickstart the endeavor, and they have recently invested an additional $15,000 to support ongoing services. 

The Jacobsville Advantage was launched in October 2021 to help fuel growth and development for businesses in the Jacobsville community. Since that time, Embrace has taken on six clients, some of which include Foster Care in the US, Gayla Cake, Jacobsville Community Cooperative, The Jacobsville Fine Arts Association, and Zesto. Projects with these businesses have included website creation and redesign, flyers, video advertisements, social media, and more. 

“Working with the Jacobsville community has been one of the best opportunities for Embrace,” said Ellen Rohr, CEO of the agency. “We were able to help a variety of businesses with diverse marketing needs. My hope is that this will be a program that can help small businesses grow for many years to come.” 

Any business owner in the Jacobsville community can apply to receive marketing services at discounted rates. Embrace uses a stairstep approach for pricing, with the initial five hours beginning at $10 per hour. Rates increase up to and max out at $50 after 35 hours of service. To learn more or schedule an appointment with the team, owners should visit

Although senior students of Embrace will graduate on May 7, the agency wants to continue serving the Jacobsville community and finding innovative solutions for business owners. Seven new members will be added to Embrace, and each bring unique capabilities to the dynamic team. With Fifth Third Bank’s $15,000 investment, the incoming team is eager to continue creating positive change and supporting local businesses. 

"Fifth Third Bank is thrilled to continue supporting the Jacobsville Advantage Program in partnership with Embrace,” shared Neely Pierce, city president of Fifth Third Bank. “This community is extremely deserving of these much-needed marketing and business resources, and we look forward to being a part of their continued success.” 

Eyewitness News covered the story and included interviews from business owners, which you can view here.

About Embrace 

Embrace Marketing and Communications was founded in October 2018 at the University of Evansville to provide students with real-world business experience. Its mission is to provide its clients with innovative, high-quality marketing and communications services. For more information, please visit

Changemaker Challenge Winners Receive Full Tuition to UE

High school students throughout the tri-state were awarded significant scholarships yesterday at the University of Evansville's seventh annual High School Changemaker Challenge, sponsored by Toyota Indiana.

The challenge, which is supported by the UE Center for Innovation and Change, is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity.

UE has committed more than $1 million in scholarships to winners of this competition since its inception. Those who choose UE as their college destination will each receive 4-year scholarships as listed below:

Kerry Ah and Naina Muvva

1st place team: Full tuition
Kerry Ao and Naina Muvva
Signature School (Evansville, IN)
Intertwined Financial Literacy - An online, interactive simulator used in schools to enhance students' understanding of finance through portfolios, stocks, and more

Neva Verbik

2nd place team: $23,000 per year
Neva Verbik
Avon High School (Avon, IN)
Uptown Gardens - Addresses solutions to the constant issues of pollution, increasingly less space for plants to grow, and global warming

Jack Deig

3rd place team: $18,000 per year
Jack Deig
Castle High School (Newburgh, IN)
The Hydration Station - Easily accessible water dispensing units placed throughout Evansville for a healthier, more hydrated community

The January 25 event included pitches from the top 20 teams or individuals who were invited to the in-person competition. Six ideas were then chosen for the championship round, from which judges awarded first, second, and third place. The remaining students who placed in the top six included:

Tyler Myers
Evansville Day School (Evansville, IN)
Driving for Change, Sensory Inclusion - helping individuals with special needs by partnering with local agencies and offering sensory-friendly locations and items

Faith Field
Edgewood High School (Ellettsville, IN)
Restore and Rebuild - a nonprofit organization which would provide housing for the homeless population of Indiana and inspire them to find work they enjoy

Zeke Grant
Perry Central High School (Leopold, IN)
Additive Affordable Prosthetics - prosthetics and biological augmentations that have full range of motion and are truly affordable

Projects from previous competitions can be found throughout the city of Evansville, including the Upgrade Bike Share stations and the solar-powered CommuniTree at Mickey's Kingdom Park downtown. The Toyota Trinity Stormwater Park, which will be developed in 2022, also stemmed from a previous competitor.

Toyota Donates $350,000 to Changemaker's Stormwater Project

Robert Lopez, an Ethics and Social Change major, competed in the UE High School Changemaker Challenge during his junior year at Bosse High School. He and his friend came up with an idea for a wetland education park that collects rainwater and cleans it through the park's plants.

After claiming third place, Robert decided to attend UE and continue working on this project for the Evansville community. Through several ChangeLabs focused on the park, he has worked alongside local organizations to bring his idea to life.

On December 13, community partners met in downtown Evansville to announce the next phase of Robert's project. Community partners include the City of Evansville, Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, Toyota Indiana, and Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. Now, thanks to a generous $350,000 donation from Toyota Indiana, the Toyota Trinity Stormwater Park will eventually be fully accessible to the public while creating a better, more environmentally-friendly community.

"This is a testament to our community’s collaborative spirit," said Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. "Our schools, water utility, businesses, architects and designers came together to provide a unique, sustainable solution to improve our city’s infrastructure and quality of life.”

"Working on this park has been nothing short of a life-changing experience," said Robert. "Starting as a junior in high school, I’ve been able to take this idea from sketches on a whiteboard, to presenting a virtual 3D walk through to the Mayor, and UE’s Center has been there the whole way. Without this project and the amazing team at the Center, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today. I only hope that someday I can inspire someone the way they inspired me and help them change their community too.”

Mike Labitzke, former lead Project Director for Evansville Water & Sewer Utility, served as one of Lopez’s ChangeLab coaches for several semesters. His initial concept for a park on top of water filtration was shared with the Center, who then pitched the idea to Robert's AP Biology class at Bosse High School. The team never stopped working on the project.

“We are excited about our partnership with the University of Evansville on what will become the city’s largest green infrastructure,” said EWSU Executive Director Lane Young. “This project allows us to be good stewards of our environment by diverting millions of gallons of sewage overflow away from the Ohio River while preserving historic relics from the former Trinity Catholic Church and incorporating them into an urban garden for our community to enjoy.”

"The collaboration with so many different parts of the community elevates the impact,” said UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “UE is so pleased to do our part in advancing our community, and reinforce that our students, like Robert, demonstrate how we bring academics to life to solve real world issues.”

The Toyota Trinity Stormwater Park will divert approximately 25 acres of downtown storm water runoff from the combined sewer system to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSO) to the Ohio River as part of the City’s CSO Long Term Control Plan. The first phase of the project involved demolition of the buildings on the former Holy Trinity Church property, located at 3rd Street and Court Street in Downtown Evansville, with materials salvaged including the plinth, some limestone and stained-glass. These materials will be incorporated into the design of the park.

The next phase involves storm sewer and storage facility construction below ground to collect storm water runoff and promote infiltration into the sand and gravel layers below grade at the church site. This next phase will also involve finalizing design and construction of the top side amenities, and designing some of the wellness programs to be offered.

Toyota has been named the title sponsor and will work with Lopez and the UE Center for Innovation & Change to identify additional green space funding opportunities from corporations and individuals. Toyota has sponsored each High School Changemaker Challenge at UE, including the 2022 challenge that is currently underway.

“We are extremely honored to be the lead supporter on such a transformative project,” said Ted Brown, vice president of administration at Toyota Indiana. “Robert’s vision for an innovative solution—to what many may have considered a standard infrastructure project—shows leadership, vision and pride for his community. That’s why programs like UE’s Changemaker Challenge are so vital to the evolution and growth of our region, and why we at Toyota Indiana continue to support those efforts. We want to challenge those in our communities to seek out opportunities to pioneer ideas for our future like Robert did, so that together we can build a better future.”

Robert Lopez holding up stormwater signs along with UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz, Jill Griffin, Erin Lewis, and Brooksie Smith.

UE Hosting 7th Annual High School Changemaker Challenge

The University of Evansville is pleased to announce the upcoming High School Changemaker Challenge, sponsored by Toyota. Any high school junior or senior is invited to participate for a chance to win a four-year scholarship, with the top prize offering full tuition. 

UE believes everyone can be a changemaker, and positive change doesn’t have to wait until college. The Changemaker Challenge, created by the University’s Center for Innovation and Change, encourages the younger generation to identify and solve challenges in the world through innovation and creativity. Students will share their unique ideas (products, services, or programs) in the form of a 2-minute video, and scholarships will be awarded to first through third place. Once they enroll at UE to continue their education, students can continue designing and implementing their ideas to make a lasting difference.  

Interested participants can attend an online information session on Thursday, November 18. Video recordings describing students’ ideas must be submitted by December 8, and the top 20 finalists will be announced on the UE website on December 15. The final round will be held on UE’s campus on January 25, 2022, where winners will be selected. To register for the information session and competition, please visit

The competition is open to any high school junior or senior, and they may compete individually or in teams of up to three. Home school and club entries (e.g. Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, 4-H) will also be eligible. To qualify for a scholarship, competitors must also attend the in-person final round on campus in Evansville, Indiana.  A separate Changemaker Challenge, beginning at a later date, will be virtual and geared towards a national and global audience that cannot compete in-person.  

Competitors may be eligible to receive special prizes for forming ideas that: 

  • Increase girls’ access and exposure to science fields (e.g. a summer camp for girls interested in physics) 
  • Address or mitigate climate change (e.g. decreasing air pollution, rooftop gardens) 
  • Increase access to physical activity or health options (e.g. more dance classes or recess in schools, fitness trails, creative outdoor play options) 
  • Provide creative ideas to improve quality of life in Evansville’s Promise Zone 

Winning students who choose UE as their college destination will receive four-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below: 

  • 1st place: Full tuition 
  • 2nd place: $23,000 tuition 
  • 3rd place: $18,000 tuition 

Students that participate will receive ongoing support from the UE Center for Innovation and Change, including online training and connections to faculty experts. To submit your video or learn more about the High School Changemaker Challenge, visit or email Brooksie Smith, the Center’s associate director, at

Embrace, Fifth Third Partner for Jacobsville Advantage to Support Local Businesses

The University of Evansville, with the support of Fifth Third Bank, is launching the Jacobsville Advantage, a collaborative effort that assists small businesses in the community with the resources necessary for growth. The overall project was created by Embrace Marketing, a marketing and communications agency managed by UE students. Members of the team hope the innovative program will strengthen Jacobsville businesses and bring strategic growth to the area.

For some time, Fifth Third has been partnering with UE and the Small Business Development Corporation to find innovative solutions and initiatives for the Jacobsville community, in which approximately 460 businesses are located. After conducting research to identify the best ways to support small businesses in the community, Embrace found that marketing assistance was a significant need. Because small businesses often do not have the funds to strategically market their goods or services, they may struggle to be profitable. With a grant from Fifth Third to launch their efforts, Embrace will work one-on-one with business owners to create marketing campaigns and increase brand awareness and reach.

“Fifth Third is dedicated to continuing in our shared vision of creating a Tri-State region where small businesses can truly thrive with exceptional community partners like the University of Evansville and their Center for Innovation & Change,” said Neely Pierce, city president of Fifth Third Bank. “That’s why we have been a proud supporter of this meaningful work and will continue in our philanthropy and resource sharing as the next phase of this program sparks growth and change in the Jacobsville business district.”

Any business owner in the Jacobsville community can receive these services at a very low cost, thanks to the grant from Fifth Third. A stairstep approach will set the initial 5 hours at $10 per hour, with increasing rates up to $50 after 35 hours of service. To learn more or schedule an appointment with the team, businesses can apply on the Jacobsville Advantage website.

“Our team is very excited to bring this project to the Jacobsville area and create real change that will support these business owners and their families,” said Brock Wandel, a UE junior and account executive for Embrace. “While we may not be able to help every single business, we’re confident that those who reach out to us will be impacted for the better.”

Embrace was founded in 2018 by UE alumnus Joe Ellsworth as well as the University’s Center for Innovation & Change. This unique program, now guided by alums Keith Leonhardt and Emily Schuster, is entirely student-run and provides experiential, hands-on learning for students. Clients of Embrace receive affordable marketing and communication services, including graphic design, rebranding, advertising, and consulting.

The Jacobsville Advantage is one of several improvements UE has brought to the community. ChangeLabs, or semester-long courses that seek to create positive change, helped implement Bike Share for the city. Three UE students created the CommuniTree at Mickey’s Kingdom, a solar-powered structure that provides wi-fi and charging ports for mobile devices. The University also obtained $90,000 in solar panels for the Carver Community Organization. Additionally, UE teamed up with Glenwood Leadership Academy to launch the mad hot ballroom program to enhance art education and performance opportunities.

UE ChangeLab Brings Vaccine Awareness to Latino Community

Holy Rosary Catholic Church, located on south Green River Road in Evansville, will host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic this Sunday, September 26, 2021, from 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. The clinic is targeted toward the youth of the local Latino community.  

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered on that Sunday, and the second dose will be administered at another clinic on Sunday, October 17, 2021, from 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Anyone age 12 and older can receive the vaccine for free. No identification cards or insurance will be required, and registration will be walk-in only. Individuals must wear a mask while at the clinic. 

Any Latino high school student who receives both doses of the vaccine will be entered to win a four-year, full-tuition scholarship from the University of Evansville. If the student is already fully vaccinated but would still like to be entered for the scholarship, they must bring proof of full vaccination and a friend, family member, or neighbor to the clinic. This individual must receive both doses of the vaccine for the student to be eligible for the scholarship. The drawing will be held after the second vaccine clinic.  

In partnership with Holy Rosary and Ascension St. Vincent, a professor and group of students from UE have worked diligently to increase COVID-19 vaccine awareness in the local Latino community. The idea arose from a ChangeLab – a semester-long UE course in which student teams develop innovative solutions to challenges either locally, nationally, or globally. The ChangeLab was held throughout the Spring 2021 semester and titled “Latinx Community Health.” 

Although vaccination awareness and encouragement has been strong in Evansville, the majority of information has been in English – whether it be online or printed in schools, healthcare facilities, or stores. Coached by Cindy Crowe, assistant professor emeritus of Spanish, the students used medical Spanish knowledge to transcribe English materials to Spanish. In particular, they created a pamphlet completely in Spanish that shared CDC guidelines as well as vaccination locations in Evansville.  

After producing the materials, Crowe and her students looked for a way to provide a comfortable, easily accessible vaccination site for Latinos where no ID was required. This was accomplished by forming a partnership with Ascension St. Vincent and Holy Rosary. Holy Rosary offers Catholic mass services in Spanish on Wednesdays and Sundays, so they knew it would be an ideal location for reaching the community and hosting the clinic. The team of students also translated the registration forms for the clinic, which led to more than 100 full vaccinations.  

“Since our clinic in the spring, the vaccine is now available for high school students, so we wanted the next clinic to focus on supporting them,” said Crowe. “As the coach of this class, it has been extremely rewarding to see these students take their ideas and goals and create a real difference in the community.” 

UE, WNIN Receive National Edward R. Murrow Award

On Tuesday, August 17, the Radio Television Digital News Association announced the University of Evansville (UE) and WNIN as a national winner for the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards.

In 2020, WNIN, the Center for Innovation and Change at the University of Evansville, and ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? collaborated on a seven-month research and reporting project to find stories of the coronavirus pandemic in seven Midwestern states. COVID Between the Coasts (CBC) is ongoing, adding data-driven reporting on the pandemic for the historical record.

CBC Lead Reporter Sarah Kuper said, “The students' hard work and valuable points of view, combined with the expertise of Dr. Tamara Wandel and Dr. Darrin Weber, made COVID Between the Coasts a historic time capsule of Midwestern life during the pandemic. It was their contribution that put us in the position to win one of the highest honors in the field of journalism. I know I personally learned a lot by working with them.”

WNIN Vice President of Radio Steve Burger said, “Because of the UE data and research, we were able to focus our coverage within a large survey area and break new ground. For example, our ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? team on the ground in Chicago did valuable reporting on inconsistencies in the national data regarding essential workers. We reported on rural Midwestern communities that previously were not part of the national discussion of the pandemic. We showed the differences in the pandemic’s impact across our survey area.”

“UE is proud to have been part of telling the story of our Midwestern region in the first pandemic in 100 years and highlights the significant contributions that our faculty, staff, and students make every day in our ever-changing world,” said UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “With UE and WNIN working together, we were able to make a difference in a way that we would not have been able to do individually and are delighted by the collaboration. 

Since 1971, the Radio Television Digital News Association has honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the annual Edward R. Murrow Awards. These awards are among the most prestigious in broadcast news, and recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Murrow set as a standard for the profession of electronic journalism. Winners will be honored at the Murrow Awards Gala in New York City on October 27, 2021.

Murrow Award Winners

University of Evansville Students Earn Prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards

A group of University of Evansville (UE) students have been recognized for their work on a community journalism initiative that examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Midwest.

The UE ChangeLab project, “COVID Between the Coasts,” is a collaboration between two University courses and National Public Radio member station WNIN.

The project, presented in a podcast format, examined seven Midwestern states through the lens of underrepresented populations grappling with the ongoing pandemic.

Over seven months, Aces led by Drs. Tamara Wandel (communications) and Darrin Weber (mathematics) carried out research, conducted interviews, and compiled data to tell localized and human stories.

“The research and reporting for our podcast is broader and richer as a result of the ChangeLab students’ award-winning work,” said WNIN reporter and producer Sarah Kuper.

“COVID Between the Coasts” earned the Excellence and Innovation and Excellence in Writing in the Region 7 group at the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards. Since 1971, the Radio Television Digital News Association has honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with annual ceremonies.

 “These are some of the most prestigious journalism awards out there, and I’m so proud of our students for their work on this project,” Wandel said.

“My classmates and I were able to do everything from research to interviewing and script writing,” UE student Nicole Tucker. “These were all things that we didn’t have a lot of experience in but with the help of our professors and WNIN, we were able to create a successful podcast series.”

A compilation of “COVID Between the Coasts” is available online.

ChangeLabs at the University of Evansville are semester-long courses in which students create positive change for businesses, nonprofits, and the community. Guided by expert coaches, multidisciplinary student teams provide services or develop innovative solutions to challenges. In addition to the award-winning “COVID Between the Coasts” collaboration, other ChangeLab projects include a city-wide bike sharing program and a $90,000 solar panel grant for a local community center.

For more information, visit the ChangeLab webpage.

ChangeLab Projects Receive Honorable Mentions at Civvys

Two ChangeLab projects of the University of Evansville (UE) Center for Innovation & Change received honorable mentions at the fourth annual American Civic Collaboration Awards, or Civvys. The event was hosted live from Washington, D.C. on Monday, April 19. 

“We are thrilled to see the positive impact of our student and faculty-led ChangeLab projects recognized not just in our local community, but also at the national level,” said Erin Lewis, director of the Center for Innovation & Change. “Both teams that participated in these award-winning projects worked diligently across disciplines to create powerful change through innovation and inclusion.” 

As an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, UE gives students the opportunity to create a lasting impact in the community through ChangeLabs, which are courses that connect the classroom with the world. Students work together in teams to turn an idea into reality, bringing positive change to businesses, nonprofits, and communities throughout the world. 

The first honorable mention was for “COVID Between the Coasts,” a collaborative ChangeLab project between UE, ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest?, and WNIN. Hypothesizing that news media largely reported on the pandemic from the east and west coasts, this team conducted research to assess COVID-19 exclusively in the Midwest. The project was led by Darrin Weber, PhD, assistant professor of mathematics; and Tamara Wandel, PhD, associate professor of communications. 

Evansville Adaptive Watersports also received an honorable mention at the 2020 Civvys. At UE’s first Community Changemaker Challenge, Philip Jacobs presented a winning idea that would support local residents with disabilities by providing accessibility to watersports. After the event, the ChangeLab project was guided by a team of four undergraduate and graduate UE students: Jamie Born, Jalyn Davis, Brooksie Smith, and Ashlyn Thompson. Evansville Adaptive Watersports successfully launched last fall, and the disabilities served include autism, spina bifida, paraplegic, brain injuries, and more. 

The Civvys highlight best practices in civic collaboration in America, and awards are given at the national, youth, and local levels. The 2020 awards brought a record-setting number of entries, and finalists were selected by the Civvys Review Committee. 

Winners of 6th Annual Changemaker Challenge Announced

Several high school students were awarded significant scholarships on Monday during a virtual awards ceremony for the University of Evansville’s sixth annual High School Changemaker Challenge. The competition was sponsored by Toyota. 

In previous years, the High School Changemaker Challenge has been held in person and open to local students who compete in teams. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s competition was hosted in a virtual format and accepted individual entries from students around the world. 

The High School Changemaker Challenge, supported by the UE Center for Innovation and Change, is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity. 

UE awarded first, second, and third place to individuals from each of the two categories: social & environmental justice and health. The scholarship amounts, renewable for a total of four years, are: 

  • 1st place: full tuition  
  • 2nd place: $18,000 tuition and $5,000 housing 
  • 3rd place: $13,000 tuition and $5,000 housing 

Below is a list of the winners of the 2021 High School Changemaker Challenge: 

Social & Environmental Justice 

  • 1st place: Grace Davidson; North High School, Evansville, Indiana; Helping victims of sexual assault receive compassionate care 
  • 2nd place: Ilya Budd; Arcola High School, Arcola, Illinois; Rethinking recycling 
  • 3rd place: Barak Hall; Evansville Christian School, Evansville, Indiana; Sustainable housing 

Additional finalists who competed in this category include: 

  • Evelyn Hipp; Nolensville High School, Nolensville, Tennessee; Helping LGBTQ students feel supported 
  • Mosad Kamal Mohammed; El Sheikh STEM School, El Hamoul City, Egypt; Multifunctional Proteins Classification Model 
  • Blayre Walters; Friends’ Central High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Improving mental health for children 
  • Aneesh Alapati; Castle High School, Newburgh, Indiana; Working to end gun violence in Evansville 


  • 1st place: Patricia Solliday; White River Valley High School, Switz City, Indiana; Portable health care for the elderly 
  • 2nd place: Ali Scott; Northeastern High School, Richmond, Indiana; Basic healthcare for K-12 kids in need 
  • 3rd place: Omaima Khan; Signature School, Newburgh, Indiana; Clean needle exchange 

Additional finalists who competed in this category include: 

  • Amanda Deutsch; North High School, Haubstadt, Indiana; Food insecurity 
  • Madison Lucas; Evansville Christian School, Evansville, Indiana; Developing a virtual blood bank 
  • Lydia Preske; Signature School, Evansville, Indiana; Infant formula temperature control 
  • Anish Patel; Woodbridge High School, Irvine, California; The Empowerment Gym 

Virtual High School Changemaker Challenge Offers Full Tuition Scholarships

The University of Evansville is pleased to announce the upcoming sixth annual High School Changemaker Challenge, sponsored by Toyota, will be held virtually this year. Any high school junior or senior in America and around the world is invited to participate for a chance to win one of several four-year, full tuition scholarships.

In previous years, teams of students have submitted projects for the High School Changemaker Competition. This year, due to the difficulties of gathering amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge will seek online entries from individual students and judging will be conducted virtually.

"As an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, we wanted to adapt and find creative ways to make this event possible for high school students," said Erin Lewis, interim director for UE's Center for Innovation & Change. "We believe everyone can be a changemaker, and offering the competition virtually allows anyone in the world to share their idea to create positive change."

A virtual session will launch the event and is scheduled for Friday, November 20, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. The Zoom meeting will be led by Lewis; Zac Parsons, local entrepreneur; and Robert Lopez, a former competitor and current UE student. To register, visit

Students can submit an idea spanning several categories, from health and social justice to environmental and regional issues (ideas tackling something Evansville-specific).

Winning students in each category who choose UE as their college destination will receive four-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below:

  • 1st place: Full tuition
  • 2nd place: $18,000 tuition and $5,000 housing per year
  • 3rd place: $13,000 tuition and $5,000 housing per year

"The High School Changemaker Challenge gives students the opportunity to make their dream a reality," said Jill Griffin, interim vice president for enrollment and marketing. "Our hope is that this competition inspires a generation of youth to think big and positively impact the world around them."

Detailed information is available here. You may contact for questions.

Guatemala Project Advances to Final Round

A University of Evansville student-produced documentary, The Guatemala Project: A Habitat for Humanity Mission, was selected for Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival, an international online film festival. After an initial round of audience voting, the film advanced to the final round at #4.

The documentary was made by Brea Mullen and Amanda Ackerman, junior multimedia communication majors at the University of Evansville. The film was previously awarded a Student Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

“This project has been such a blessing from the very beginning,” said Mullen. “From its planning phases to now, it has been such a wonderful journey of growth both personally and in terms of beginning a career in filmmaking.”

Each year, students travel the globe with UE’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. In May 2018, Mullen and Ackerman traveled to Guatemala with the group to document the experience and came out with a moving testimonial of life-changing aid that UE Changemakers are providing all over the world.

“This was a life-changing trip for me because I got to experience a new culture and people I had never met before,” Ackerman said. “I stand firmly behind Habitat for Humanity’s mission of changing the world in a positive way, which is something I would like to continue to be a part of for trips to come.”

“In times like these when everyone is so isolated, we can lean on film as a universal connector,” Mullen added. “Habitat for Humanity's mission is all about creating positive change and helping it expand and flourish throughout the world. This project is infused with hope, gratitude, and growth, and our hope is that everyone who has been so generous enough to watch the film is filled with these positive emotions when the end credits roll."

The Guatemala Project has advanced to a final round of judging along with nine other films. Network members and Lift-Off's Official Judges will score the films based on multiple aspects. The film with the highest overall score wins and will be selected to form part of one of the live screenings at an upcoming Lift-Off Film Festival.

The Guatemala Project: A Habitat for Humanity Mission can be viewed on YouTube.

Mullen and Ackerman in Guatemala

Winners of the Fifth Annual High School Changemaker Challenge Get Full Tuition to UE

High school students from across the Tri-state were awarded significant scholarships today at UE's fifth annual High School Changemaker Challenge, presented by Toyota Indiana.

The challenge, which is supported by the Center for Innovation and Change, is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity.

The University has committed more than $1 million in scholarships to winners of this competition. Members from the top six winning teams who choose UE as their college destination will each receive 4-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below:

1st place team: Full tuition
Project Oasis
Team Idea: Social grocery store in food desert areas
Team Members: Graham Griffin, Ranny Badreddine, Futallah Hamed
Coach: Jose Mota

2nd place team: $26,000 per year
Team Idea: Device to prevent children from being left in hot cars
Team Members: Lydia Johnson, Isaac Martin, Elijah Jorgensen
Coach: Donna Lefler

3rd place team: $22,000 per year
Working out for a Change
Team Idea: Gyms with equipment that produce and store energy for sustainable use
Team Members: Vivian Valadares, Paxton Mosby, Madeline Erdell
Coach: Jose Mota

Three runner-up teams: $18,000 per year
Food Recovery
Team Idea: Utilizing un-served food to address food insecurity among children
Team Members: Ben Burson, Mary Franklin, Isabella Meier
Coach: Kacey Strange

Power of Composting
Team Idea: Educating to reduct food waste from school lunches
Team Members: Helaena Pfeiffer, Mary Gardner, Chloe Julian
Coach: Brooke Haldeman

Team Idea: Exercise bikes that generate energy to address climate change
Team Members: Krish Gupta, Kaden Merrill
Coach: Jenna Bunner, Haleigh Bennett

18 teams participated in the 2019 High School Changemaker Challenge. Projects from previous competitions can be seen in the city of Evansville, including the Upgrade Bike Share stations and the solar-powered CommuniTree at Mickey's Kingdom Park downtown. Projects still in the development stages include a musical swing set, an emergency response app, an anti-bullying board game, and many more.

Project Oasis Team

UE Affirms Commitment to Changemaking with Increased Scholarships for High School Changemaker Challenge

The University of Evansville reaffirmed its commitment to a culture of changemaking at a press conference today as UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz announced more than $1 million in scholarships for winners of the annual High School Changemaker Challenge starting in 2019.

Members from the top six winning teams who choose UE as their college destination will each receive 4-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below:

  • 1st place team: Full tuition
  • 2nd place team: $26,000 per year
  • 3rd place team: $22,000 per year
  • Three runner-up teams: $18,000 per year

Students who are eligible for more than one UE scholarship will receive the one of highest value.

In years past, members of the first place team received full tuition while second place received $5,000, third place received $2,500, and fourth place received $1,000 toward UE tuition.

"Changemaking is engrained in the UE culture and we provide the support to take ideas from concept to reality," said Pietruszkiewicz. "Our Ace Care pro-bono physical therapy clinic and our record breaking Habitat for Humanity Barn Blitz are just two ways that Aces are positively impacting our community."

UE's High School Changemaker Challenge is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity. Projects from previous competitions can be seen in the city of Evansville, including the Upgrade Bike Share stations and the solar-powered CommuniTree at Mickey's Kingdom Park downtown. Projects still in the development stages include a musical swing set, an emergency response app, an anti-bullying board game, and many more.

"The increased scholarships will allow more students access to UE's incredible network of support in order to make lasting change in our community and the world," said Shane Davidson, UE's vice president for enrollment and marketing.

Also new this year, teams can be made up of any combination of high school-aged students from any school-public, private, homeschooled, etc. Coaches are no longer required to be faculty members, and teams will be identified based on their project, not their high school. Teams can also come from anywhere in the country or the world as long as they can be physically present for the on-campus competition.

"As an Ashoka U campus, we believe in the 'everyone a changemaker' philosophy and want as many students as possible to have the means to make positive change," said Pietruszkiewicz.

Registration is now open, and more information can be found on the Changemaker Challenge website. Video submissions are due by Monday, September 9. The top 20 finalists will be notified by Friday, September 13 of their advancement to the final on-campus pitch to be held on Wednesday, October 23 on the UE campus.

Contact for more information.

Changemaker Challenge Scholarships Sign

UE's Mad Hot Ballroom wins Celebration of Leadership Award

The University of Evansville's Mad Hot Ballroom program won the Sam Featherstone Award for Projects and Programs at the annual Celebration of Leadership Awards hosted recently  by Leadership Evansville. 

Erin Lewis, associate director for the Center for Innovation and Change at UE, is the club's advisor and Joseph Shoup is president.

University of Evansville Announces Details for the Community Changemaker Challenge

The University of Evansville launched its inaugural Community Changemaker Challenge today during a press conference on the UE campus. This competition’s theme is to Make Evansville More Fun and Exciting, and community members of all ages and backgrounds are invited to form a team.

After a series of initial rounds, the top four teams will each receive $1000 in prize money. Teams will then hone their presentations for the final round—a “Shark-Tank”- style competition to be aired on WNIN. During the televised event, each team will have the opportunity to make a pitch to real community investors for funding up to $10,000.

“We are looking for fun, creative, or interesting new ways to increase the fun factor in our city,” said Jill Griffin, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Change at UE. “Ideas could include events, activities, businesses, art installations, or anything else you can imagine.”

UE has hosted the annual High School Changemaker Challenge since 2015, awarding full-tuition scholarships to members of the winning teams and the Collegiate Changemaker Challenge since 2013, awarding prize money and other incentives to UE students. Both of these programs are designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity.

“UE believes strongly that everyone can be a Changemaker,” said UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “To that end, we’re opening the challenge to the entire community this time and inviting people of all ages and walks of life to share their ideas.”

Many Changemaker Challenge projects have already been implemented throughout the Evansville community. The Upgrade Bike Share hubs around the city, solar panels at Carver Community Center, and the CommuniTree at Mickey’s Kingdom all stemmed from these competitions.

“At WNIN, our mission is to deliver engaging public media content that informs, entertains, and inspires,” said Brad Kimmel, president and CEO at WNIN Tri-State Public Media. “A Changemaker Challenge, where everyone in the public has a chance to make their community a little better, directly aligns with this mission, and we’re excited to partner with the University of Evansville.”

In addition to WNIN, other community partners involved in the challenge include the Rotary Club of Evansville, Leadership Evansville, the Evansville African American Museum, and the Growth Alliance of Greater Evansville.

Interested teams are invited to two information sessions in February, and video submissions are due April 8. The top 12 teams will each present at a pitch event on April 30. The top four teams from this event will each receive a prize of $1,000 and will be invited to the WNIN studios on June 7 for the recording of the final televised round where they will pitch their ideas to local community investors for further funding assistance, suggestions, and advice for implementation.

“The Center of Innovation and Change at UE is thrilled to provide another opportunity to get the community working on quality of place initiatives,” said Griffin. “We all have a stake in our community, and we believe that everyone can be a changemaker.”

For more information on the Community Changemaker Challenge, visit


Important information and Community Changemaker Challenge competition dates are as follows:

Tuesday, February 12: Leadership Evansville Kickoff
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Join Leadership Evansville for a VOICE session at the Evansville African American Museum. They will help you come up with ideas or hone an idea if you already have one! Refreshments provided and all are welcome.

Tuesday, February 26: Information Session at the University of Evansville
6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Come to the information session to learn details and discuss strategy for the competition.

Monday, April 8: 60-Second Video Submission Deadline
Email a YouTube link to your team’s 60-second video pitch to by midnight.

Friday, April 12: Top 12 Teams Notified that they’ll be moving forward.

Tuesday, April 30: Top 12 Pitch Event at Innovation Point: Each team will deliver a one-minute pitch and then be available to discuss their ideas further.

Friday, June 7: Final Round and Recording for Televised Show
The top 4 teams will be invited to the WNIN studio to receive their $1,000 prize and to pitch their idea to investors for further funding assistance, suggestions, and advice for implementation.

For more information visit


UE students plan awareness event for Powering Rosa-Bell Project

University of Evansville ChangeLab students are planning an awareness event for their Powering Rosa-Bell project, which will provide solar panel-powered energy for the Rosa-Bell school in Puerto Rico. The event is Tuesday, December 11, at 5:00 p.m. in Room 100 in the Koch Center for Engineering and Science on UE’s campus. It is free and open to the public.

There will be food, prizes, a panel discussion, and trivia games focusing on climate change and the environment, alternative energy, and Puerto Rico. The students will also make presentations about their project, and there will also be an informal discussion of the recent fourth national climate report.

Currently, electricity for the Rosa-Bell school comes from a standard power grid. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the grid lost power causing the school to be out of session for several months. The goal of the Rosa-Bell Project is to raise the money needed to purchase materials for the installation of solar panels, so the school no longer relies on the power grid. It is estimated that electricity generated by solar panels would save the school approximately $5,000 a month. This money could go to new programs, new classroom supplies, and an overall improvement of the school for the students.

UE Changee Award Winners Announced

The University of Evansville’s inaugural Changee Awards ceremony was Sunday, October 28, in Eykamp Hall in Ridgway University Center on UE’s campus. The formal event, sponsored by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana and Berkshire Hathaway real estate agent Philip R. Hooper, honored those in the UE community who have been outstanding changemaking catalysts.

Erin Lewis, associate director for UE’s Center for Innovation & Change, said that the University was “excited about the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the incredible changemakers among our staff, students, and faculty and community partners. While we hope it becomes an annual event, we are so grateful to be able to do it this year, the year UE became an Ashoka Changemaker Campus.”

Those receiving awards included:

  • CommuniTree - Community Initiative of the Year
  • Holly Carter, UE director of education abroad and Harlaxton programs - Changemaker Staff Member of the Year                                                          
  • Angela Reisetter, UE associate professor of physics - Changemaker Faculty Member of the Year
  • Hannah Jaramillo, UE student – Changemaker Student of the Year
  • E Cubed ChangeLab Team – Changemaker Student Team of the Year
  • Bushara Ahmed, UE student – Center for Innovation & Change Award
  • Ace Care, pro bono physical therapy clinic run by UE doctor of physical therapy students - Changemaker University Initiative of the Year
  • Mike Labitzke, deputy director of program management, Evansville Water and Sewer – Community Changemaker of the Year
  • Honeymoon Coffee Company -  Community Business Partner of the Year                                                            
  • Mark Valenzuela, UE director of institutional effectiveness – Global Changemaker of the Year
  • LaNeeca Williams, UE chief diversity officer – Changemaker Inclusion Award

Students from North High School win Full Tuition at UE's High School Changemaker Challenge

Three students from North High School won full tuition to the University of Evansville today during the fourth annual High School Changemaker Challenge.

Ashlyn Thompson, Jaylyn Davis, and Jamie Born came up with an idea for a musical swing set that would serve as a stress reliever and community builder in downtown Evansville. The team researched what it would take to make their idea become a reality and presented to a panel of judges.

Each member of the winning team will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the University of Evansville. Scholarships will also be awarded to the second, third, and fourth ranked teams per student ($5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 respectively for four years):

Winning teams included:

  • 4th place: Castle High School: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Team
  • 3rd place: Castle High School: Hope Park Team
  • 2nd Place: Bosse High School: Filtering Wetland Park
  • 1st Place: North High School: Musical Swing Set

Championship round judges included Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz and other community leaders.

UE's High School Changemaker Challenge is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity. High school students are invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of community leaders and compete for scholarships to UE where they can come to get the support needed to make their ideas become a reality.

This year, 18 teams from the following high schools competed: North, Evansville Day School, Heritage Hills, Bosse, New Tech Institute, Forest Park, Signature School, Evansville Christian School, Mater Dei, Castle, Central, Boonville, and Charles A. Tindley Academy.

The High School Changemaker Challenge was made possible this year by the Rotary Club of Evansville. Proceeds from the 2017 Rotary Club Santa Run went to support the Changemaker Challenge. 

UE Ranked Number 7 Best College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report

The University of Evansville has been named seventh best college in the Midwest in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges rankings. UE has risen two spots in this year’s overall ranking, and was again named as one of the top 10 value colleges in the Midwest.

The University was also recognized as one of the Most Innovative Schools in the Midwest for the first time. Top college officials from across the country made nominations for this list, selecting institutions known for making the most innovative improvements in curriculum, faculty, campus life, technology, or facilities.

In May 2018, UE was designated as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U for its role as a leader in social innovation and changemaking in higher education. UE is the first Changemaker Campus in Indiana.

The University was listed on several other U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges lists this year. UE’s Schroeder School of Business was named the number three best undergraduate business school in the nation among small private colleges, with its accounting and finance programs coming in at number one and number two respectively.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science was named the number 25 best undergraduate engineering school in the nation among small private colleges with no doctorate.  

The University was also recognized as the number six Best College for Veterans in the Midwest and a Top Midwest School for International Students and remains a Top 10 Best Value college.

Infographic. Details of graphic appear as text in the news article.

“To be recognized nationally on so many levels speaks volumes about the great programs, great people, and great qualities of this University,” said Shane Davidson, vice president for enrollment and marketing at UE. “We are especially proud of making the most innovative list—innovation and changemaking are at the heart of the UE experience.”

The U.S. News & World Report rankings are designed to help prospective students and their families evaluate college choices. The Best Colleges rankings are available online at and will be published in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2019 guidebook, on newsstands later this month.

UE's Mark Valenzuela Breaks World Record for Tallest Tower of Tortillas at UE ChangeFest 2018

UE’s Mark Valenzuela broke the world record for stacking the tallest tower of tortillas on Friday, September 7 during UE Changefest 2018. He not only broke the existing record of 68 centimeters, but went on to set a new record of 75 centimeters before his tower fell. 

This was Mark's second attempt. In last year's attempt, his tower toppled just short of the world record.

"Mark exemplifies the characteristics of changemaking that UE stands for," said Jill Griffin, executive director for the Center for Innovation and Change at UE. "He had the courage to set a bold goal for a good cause and wasn't deterred by his initial failure." 

ChangeFest is held annually to raise awareness for the positive change that Aces are making in the community and the world. This year's themed booths, salsa dancing lessons, record breaking tortilla tower, and more revolved around the theme to bring awareness for UE's upcoming Habitat for Humanity trip to Mexico.

Mark smiling next to the tortillas and a photo of the record breaking stack.

“People have been asking me, 'what does it feel like to hold a world record?'" "said Valenzuela. "It feels great, especially after the failed attempt last year. But really it all just started out as a way to bring attention to a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Guatemala that happened in May 2018. And now we're off to Mexico in May 2019. If we get as good a group of students going in May as we had in Guatemala, then I would really feel a sense of accomplishment!”

Valenzuela is the associate vice president for academic affairs and is also teaching a ChangeLab course this semester in which students are exploring the use of tiny hones as a source of affordable housing. He recently moved into his current role after teaching in the mechanical and civil engineering department for 19 years. 

Mark Valenzuela standing in front of a stack of tortillas.

UE’s ACE³ Program Named Finalist in National Competition

The University of Evansville’s Access to Capital and Expertise for Emerging Entrepreneurs (ACE³) program has been selected as a Pioneer (finalist) in the Unlocking ₵hange Challenge: Innovations for Financial Wellbeing, Resilience, and Freedom. This nationwide competition seeks to find and support leading social entrepreneurs and innovators across the country.

The ACE³ program was one of 10 finalists chosen out a group of 140 entries. The four Champions (winners) of the challenge will be announced on Oct 3. Each winner will receive $50,000 to support their programs.

Representatives of ACE³ will soon be going to New York to attend the Unlocking ¢hange Challenge event. While there, they will have the opportunity to network, participate in workshops, and discuss the Ace³ program, sponsored by Old National Bank.

The challenge is a collaboration between BNY Mellon, an American worldwide banking and financial services holding company, and Ashoka, the world’s largest group of social entrepreneurs and changemakers.

The University of Evansville was recently named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, an Ashoka initiative. UE received the recognition due to its leadership in social innovation and changemaking in higher education. It’s one of 50 universities world-wide with this distinction and the first in Indiana.

The ACE³ program is sponsored, funded, and co-managed by Old National Bank and is located in the Schroeder School of Business’s Institute for Banking and Finance under the direction of Yasser Alhenawi, UE associate professor of finance. ACE³ manages a $100,000 portfolio, which offers microloans to women, minority, and disadvantaged owned businesses. Students interface with clients, review business plans, and serve as underwriters for loans.

“ACE³ gives students the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and real-world experience while making a positive impact in the community,” said Greg Rawski, Schroeder Family Dean.

The Schroeder School of Business is the nation’s fastest riser (+38 places) in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Undergraduate Business Programs and is ranked Number 4 among small private business schools nationally.