Butler University has named its two-year college, which will open in August 2025, Founder’s College— a tribute to the university’s originator and a nod to its longstanding commitment to increasing access to education beyond high school.

Butler announced the two-year college in November as part of its efforts to increase college affordability and pave the way for more historically underserved students, including first-generation students and those from low-wealth families, to enroll. Founder’s College students can obtain their associate degree with little to no debt or out-of-pocket expenses and can complete their Butler University bachelor’s degree for approximately $10,000.

“Launching Founder’s College continues our university’s historic pledge to expand higher education access as a means of helping all people access opportunity,” said Butler University President James Danko. “We continue to be inspired by our founder’s personal story. This name celebrates his legacy and uplifts our university’s values.”

Lawyer Ovid Butler founded Butler in 1855 alongside abolitionists who wanted to create a university away from, in Butler’s words, the “pernicious influences of slavery.” From its beginning, Butler admitted students of color and was the second university in the nation to admit women on an equal basis with men. It was the first university in the U.S. to establish an endowed chair for a female professor. 

Founder’s College will continue this historic mission by focusing enrollment on Indianapolis-area students who face cost barriers or other obstacles to attending college.

“We want to ensure that Founder’s College students not only have access to education beyond high school but are also given the support needed to be successful in college, get good-paying jobs, develop meaningful careers, and to be engaged members of their communities,” said Brooke Barnett, Butler’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Founder’s College employs the proven model developed by Come To Believe, a national nonprofit with a track record of success in helping students persist through two-year and four-year degree programs.

 “We’re proud to be affiliated with Butler and its college named after an early champion of freedom, opportunity, and dignity,” said Father Steve Katsouros, SJ, Founder, President and CEO of Come to Believe Network. “We share in the belief that higher education access offers a key pathway to social and economic mobility, and we’re excited to see the transformational impact that Founder’s College will have on the Indianapolis community.”

Butler is engaged in a national search for the Founder’s College inaugural dean and other leadership positions, with plans to begin hiring other faculty and staff later this year.

Founder’s College will have a dedicated home on campus co-located with the College of Education near the intersection of 42nd Street and Haughey Avenue. This space will undergo renovations to create a welcoming environment for commuter students to spend time on campus between classes. 

Butler will announce the initial associate degree programs offered through Founder’s College this summer.  The first student class will begin in fall 2025, and the application for admission opens in August 2024.