Bulldog statue and the sky

Looking Beyond

James M. Danko


from Fall 2019

President James M. DankoAs the namesake year for our strategic plan is just a few weeks away, and our vision for the future evolves beyond, I have found myself reflecting upon my early months as President and the many conversations I had with alumni, students, faculty, and staff as I learned about this great University. Not only did I meet many wonderful people, but the active engagement led to a collective and exciting vision that became known as Butler 2020.

With our planning complete and attention turned toward achieving our vision, I was surprised one day by the reaction of a student who approached me in Starbucks. “Our new plan sounds great,” she said wistfully. “But I will graduate long before 2020, and I won’t benefit from the improvements.”

It never fails to amaze me—as a parent or as a president—that even in the midst of painstaking planning, meticulous research, and preparation for all manner of contingencies, a young-adult mind can hone in on a blindingly obvious insight that I had somehow managed to overlook.

Besides prompting me to make a mental note to never name a strategy after a future year, this student’s remark motivated me to do a better job of conveying to our students that today’s investments in our University do two important things. First, they ensure that our campus is continuously—and proactively—evolving to meet the needs of every incoming class. Second, they elevate the value of a Butler degree for all alumni—past, present, and future.

As you’ll read about in this special edition of Butler Magazine, we’ve gained unprecedented momentum through the successful implementation of Butler 2020. We have advanced Butler’s reputation for overall excellence, teaching, and innovation; enriched our academic, research, residential, performance, and athletic resources; and made a positive impact on global, regional, and local communities. Over the summer, the Lacy School of Business moved into its new 110,000-square-foot home. And earlier this month, we broke ground on a $100 million renovation and expansion for Butler’s new sciences complex.

The benefits of these improvements are not limited to those who live in a new residence hall or take classes in a new building today, however. They are part of an overarching cycle. They strengthen our brand as a University with great academics and great people. This, in turn, attracts the most talented students, faculty, and staff to Butler. This ultimately increases the value of a Butler degree. And like the generations of Bulldogs who came before us—those who enacted Butler’s commitment to inclusivity, who established outstanding academic and athletic programs, and who built beautiful campus buildings and gardens—we have assumed the mantle of good stewardship. This means that just as the Butler we enjoy today was built upon the shoulders of those who preceded us, we have a responsibility to make Butler better for the generations that will come after us.

As we look to these future generations, we will be guided by a new roadmap: Butler Beyond. Within these pages, you’ll learn more about the complex challenges within the higher education landscape that Butler Beyond will help us successfully navigate in the coming years, including changing student needs and demographic shifts. This new strategic vision includes the University’s commitments to make a Butler education more financially accessible to students and families; to offer students more efficient ways to learn and sharpen skills at all stages of life; to reach beyond our traditional-aged students and beyond our campus to pursue new markets, partners, and models of learning; and to complete the largest ever comprehensive fundraising campaign in the University’s history.

Thanks to alumni and friends like you, Butler is stronger than ever. We have built upon the hard work of past Bulldogs to benefit current students. We are deeply grateful for your support and we’re counting on you to be a part of our next bold leap forward. Thank you for joining us as we look beyond and dream big.