A social work and youth development scholar with years of experience leading system-wide initiatives at Indiana University will serve as the inaugural dean for the new Founder’s College at Butler University, a two-year program serving historically underserved students.

Dr. Carolyn Gentle-Genitty, who is based in Indianapolis, will leave her roles as Indiana University’s Assistant Vice President for University Academic Policy and professor in the School of Social Work to join Butler on June 3. She will spend the next year developing the Founder’s College infrastructure, including hiring faculty and staff and recruiting students who will begin the two-year program in August 2025.

“We’re thrilled to have found an inaugural dean who is a proven leader and scholar with a heart for helping all students reach their potential,” said Brooke Barnett, Butler’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Dr. Gentle-Genitty will be a tremendous addition to Butler’s team and a perfect fit to launch and lead this program.”

Gentle-Genitty grew up in Belize as the eldest of five children whose parents operated a food cart and canteen and also valued service and education. She paid for her associate’s degree through work-study, earned a full scholarship to cover the cost of her bachelor’s degree, and paid for her master’s degree through a promissory loan.

Her experience growing up in a low-wealth family and overcoming financial obstacles to obtaining her education fuels her desire to make a difference and lead a program aimed at increasing college affordability. She is paving the way for more first-generation students to enroll at Butler. Among her core goals will be creating a culture where Founder’s College students feel supported and part of the campus community.

“Butler was warm and welcoming to me from the moment I stepped on campus. I want to create a family culture so that Founder’s College students have that same experience,” Gentle-Genitty said. “We want people to see that Founder’s College is the heart of Butler’s mission by uplifting equity, academic excellence, and access to education – all values shared by our founder, Ovid Butler.”

Gentle-Genitty moved to Indianapolis in 2004 after earning her undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work from Spalding University in Louisville, Ky., and spending nearly five years leading the YMCA of Belize. After earning her PhD in social work from IU, she went on to lead the university’s Bachelor of Social Work program on the Indianapolis campus before moving into system-wide leadership roles, including developing online education programs, overseeing academic policy and programs, and improving transfer policies.

During her time working to streamline the transfer process, IU grew its first-generation transfer students by 5 percent and adult learners by 23 percent. In her most recent role leading university academic policy, the office vetted, approved, and supported the implementation of 1,200 credentials and 30 new-to-the-state degrees.

Gentle-Genitty is an alumna of HERS, a national development program for women in higher education, and Next Generation of Leaders, a prestigious IU leadership training program. She also recently completed a yearlong leadership fellowship with the American Council on Education, where she was embedded at the University of Southern New Hampshire and University of Colorado Denver to prepare for campus leadership.

“Dr. Gentle-Genitty has made an incredible impact across a complex public university system, and she leads with empathy in helping students achieve success in education beyond high school,” said Butler University President Jim Danko. “We’re confident she will help our university work in partnership with students, the community, and higher education to make an impact through Founder’s College.”

Founder’s College at Butler University employs the proven model developed by Come to Believe, a national nonprofit with a track record of success in helping students persist through two- and four-year degree programs. Students who enroll at Butler can obtain their associate’s degree with no debt and little out-of-pocket expenses and can complete their Butler University bachelor’s degree for approximately $10,000. These costs do not include housing since the college will serve those within commuting distance. The application for admission opens in August 2024.