Randy Brown

Mentor Minded

Jennifer Gunnels

from Winter 2021

In his role as an Executive Career Mentor in the Andre B. Lacy School of Business, Randy Brown occasionally encounters students who are preparing to graduate from Butler who are concerned with the financial burden of student loans they’ve taken out to finance their education. As the recipient of unexpected financial support while he was a college student, Brown understands the long-term impact of scholarship aid on a student’s life. Now, along with helping students to begin successful careers, he and his wife Libby have determined to pay forward the support they once received. 

“Both Libby and I came from families whose parents had never gone to college, and we understood the importance of people helping us along the way,” Brown says. “I think now it’s that time in our lives where we get to do something similar for others.” 

The Browns decided to respond to the need they witnessed by establishing the Randy and Libby Brown Scholarship, which is awarded to high-achieving rising seniors who have financed their education largely with student loans.

The Browns aren’t alone in their concern for students’ financial well-being. Melissa Smurdon, Butler’s Director of Financial Aid, says she is constantly thinking about how to make Butler more affordable and to ensure that every Butler student is able to complete their degree and thrive after graduation.

Butler already engages in a number of best practices for student financial wellness, and University leadership is further exploring new ways to incorporate additional financial literacy training into Butler’s nationally recognized BU|BeWell student experience model. But perhaps most importantly, Butler aims to limit as much as possible the option of over-borrowing in the first place through a robust financial aid program.

“Butler has made a strong and consistent commitment to financial aid, but there’s more work to do,” Smurdon says. “We need partners to come alongside us in supporting our students to make this transformative learning experience available to more people.”

This year, Butler invested $82 million in student financial aid. Of that total, just $3.4 million was paid for through donor-funded scholarships, resulting in more than $78 million of the University’s annual operating budget going back out to students in the form of financial aid. Student Access and Success is one of the pillars of the Butler Beyond campaign, with a particular goal of raising $55 million for student scholarships.

While the Browns plan to continue funding their scholarship annually, they have also committed to generously add an additional gift through their estate to ensure the scholarship exists in perpetuity at Butler, continuing to launch students into their post-graduate lives with less debt.

“The only thing I hope is that any recipient of our scholarship uses it to become the best version of themselves,” Brown says. “Whatever their aspirations and goals are, if it helps them move forward with a little less worry about the education they’ve had to finance and they can focus more on what they can achieve, that’s fantastic.”