INDIANAPOLIS – During his annual State of the University address, Butler University President James M. Danko reported on the University’s progress, challenges being confronted, and visions for the future.
But as much as things change, he said, one thing has remained constant throughout Butler’s history, and that is a University that has never shied away from being bold in its decision making. As Butler evolves over time, the essence of the University has always remained the same, Danko said.
“Just like no one would have predicted 20 years ago what Butler would look like today, we can’t accurately predict what Butler will look like 20 years from now,” Danko said. “So, while our future success will always be something to consistently chase, we can be certain that Butler University will be here, thriving. Because for more than 165 years, Butler has always put in the extra effort. It’s the Butler Way.”
Danko delivered the 2018 State of the University on Friday at Butler’s Schrott Center for the Arts. The afternoon featured three guest speakers—retired Religion Professor Paul Valliere, current senior Xavier Colvin, and College of Education graduate Katie Moore ’08.
From the beginning, Danko said, Butler has made bold decisions.
In the years just before the Civil War, Ovid Butler established an inclusive university, providing access to education for everyone, no matter race or gender. Springing from that intrepid start, there were other bold decisions which have shaped us as the University we are today, Danko said. Like moving the campus three times, building a Fieldhouse 90 years ago, opening Clowes Hall, and building an observatory.
More recently, bold decisions have taken the form of joining the BIG EAST Conference, investing in nationwide branding and awareness, improving the living and learning facilities on campus, increasing the size of our student body, And, most recently, establishing South Campus.
Danko noted that these daring choices are paying off.
“For the first time ever, Butler was included in the Princeton Review’s list of ‘The Best 384 Colleges,’” he said. “And after years on the rise, Butler has now secured the No. 1 position among Midwest Regional Universities in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings.”
Other highlights include:
- Compensation and Classification study to provide more equitable and competitive wages for our faculty and staff.
- A new partnership with the Indiana Housing Program and Midtown Anchor Coalition to both purchase and repair homes in the surrounding neighborhood.
- The welcoming of a new Title IX Coordinator, as well as our new BUBeWell model
- An active search for the University’s first Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
- Since 2010, total student full-time equivalent has grown by 500.
- Since 2010, overall revenues have grown by 60 percent.
- Since 2012, Butler’s endowment has grown by nearly 60 percent.
- The total gift income raised in the past three years is more than double what Butler raised in gift income the six years prior.
But the most powerful, most significant indicator of Butler’s impact is in its people.
“I think you’ll agree with me that the core of Butler University is our success in bringing together great faculty and great students,” Danko said. “Butler has excelled over its history because of the richness of our education, brought to life by outstanding faculty who care about students and who are committed to providing them with exceptional academic experiences.”
Since his career at Butler began in 1982, Retired Professor of Religion Valliere, has seen a lot of change. In 1982, he said, Butler needed to grow, to upgrade physical facilities, to clarify its identity, and to enhance its visibility. Now, he says, Butler has accomplished all those things. All while maintaining a healthy balance of change and tradition.
“Butler changed a lot in all sorts of good ways. But, the wonderful fact is that in some profound ways Butler University has not changed,” he said.
A senior marketing major at Butler, Colvin is a linebacker on the football team. He also came out as gay in 2016. He feared the reactions of teammates, coaches, and the campus community, but he used his platform as an NCAA athlete to share his story in hopes of helping others, he said. He has tried to be the person that teenage Xavier needed. And he hasn’t stopped, as he continues to share his coming out story in hopes it impacts someone, somewhere.
“I was recently asked if I get tired of telling my story over and over. The work I’m doing is minimal. If Harriet Tubman, Bayard Rustin, MLK Jr., or Harvey Milk, all activists for either the LGBT or the Black Community, would have gotten tired, I am not sure if I would be standing in front of you today,” he said.
Moore, a 2008 College of Education graduate, said the most rewarding experiences at Butler were experiential learning opportunities—practical opportunities that allowed her to make connections between the content, her life, and the world. She has learned first-hand, she said, that it is impossible to be prepared for what you cannot imagine, but Butler’s commitment to investing in students through ensuring a variety of opportunities prepares individuals for the unforeseen dynamics of the future.
It is that unwavering commitment to students, Danko said, that has always been a part of Butler—no matter how much has changed. That balance between being unafraid to make bold moves, yet sticking to core values, is what has made Butler successful throughout time, and what will help sustain that success in the future, he said.
“We will maintain a balance of change and tradition, we will celebrate the investments we have made to remain competitive, while at the same time we begin to explore new bold ideas to sustain, advance, and ensure our success for generations to come,” Danko said.
Director of Strategic Communications