INDIANAPOLIS—The Hershel B. & Ethel L. Whitney Fund of The Indianapolis Foundation recently gave $1.5 million to Butler University in support of its $100 million Sciences Expansion and Renovation project, among the largest gifts received to date for the effort. In recognition of the gift, the University will name the Hershel B. Whitney Gateway in Gallahue Hall in honor of the late Hershel B. Whitney, who was a longtime Indianapolis resident and chemist at Eli Lilly. The gift pushes Butler beyond $29 million raised thus far toward the University’s $42 million fundraising goal for the effort.

The Sciences Expansion and Renovation Project is the largest infrastructure investment in University history and is a key funding priority of the Butler Beyond comprehensive fundraising campaign. The initiative is an early step in Butler’s new strategic direction, centered on expanding the University’s impact beyond its current students and beyond the borders of campus by serving the needs of the broader Central Indiana community, particularly in the area of workforce development. With the help of state-of-the-art sciences facilities and nationally recognized faculty, Butler seeks to play a major role in attracting and developing new talent for the region’s booming life sciences industry.

Indiana is one of the top five states in the country for the number of companies, concentration of companies, and total number of life sciences industry jobs. Meanwhile, Butler has seen a 70 percent increase in enrollment in science disciplines over the past decade, graduating students who choose to stay in Indiana to begin their careers. About 60 percent of Butler undergraduate students come from outside the state, and among science graduates, 63 percent stay in state, contributing to a brain gain effect for the state of Indiana.

“We are proud to contribute to the development of our community by attracting and developing outstanding talent for the science and life science sectors of Central Indiana’s economy, and we are grateful for the donors who see the long-term value of this investment not only for our students but also for our region,” says Jay Howard, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “The renovation and expansion of our sciences complex will ensure that Butler University continues to prepare the talent Indiana needs for a thriving workforce.”

The COVID-19 global health crisis has recently shed light on the importance of a workforce skilled in the areas of research, data analysis, and scientific inquiry. Current and former Butler students are working on the frontlines of the nation’s pandemic response working in hospitals, making hand sanitizer, creating images for the National Institutes of Health, analyzing health data at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more.

Previous lead philanthropic gifts already received for the Sciences Expansion and Renovation Project include $13 million from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, $5 million from Frank ’71 and Kristin Levinson, and other major contributions from Former Trustee Billie Lou ’51 and Richard D. Wood, Trustee Chair Emeritus Craig Fenneman ’71 and Mary Stover-Fenneman, Trustee Lynne Zydowsky ’81, Former Trustee Joshua Smiley, and the estate of Bud ’44 and Jackie ’44 Sellick.

Donors who have invested $500,000 or more in the project will be honored on a prominent wall in the stunning new atrium of the expansion building connecting Gallahue Hall to the Holcomb Building. The expansion will add nearly 44,000 square feet of new space for teaching, research, collaboration, and study, plus the 13,140 square-foot atrium.

The Hershel B. Whitney Gateway will include seven research labs, five teaching labs, and research/teaching preparation spaces on the second floor of Gallahue Hall, where chemistry and biochemistry students will engage in cross-disciplinary learning. The Hershel B. and Ethel L. Whitney Fund also previously established the Hershel B. Whitney Chair in Biochemistry, which is currently held by Associate Professor Jeremy Johnson. Johnson’s work conducting research alongside undergraduate students will now take place in the Whitney Gateway, linking the Fund’s previous faculty and programmatic support to the physical spaces where teaching and learning will occur.

In addition to the Whitney Fund’s investment in the new sciences complex, the Fund also made a $100,000 donation to the Jordan College of the Arts’ Performance Enhancement Fund to support the JCA Signature Series, a high-impact artist residency program. The series provides enriching community programming along with workshops and lectures for Butler students.

“At its core, the JCA Signature Series is a student-centric residency program, with an embedded public-facing community component,” says Lisa Brooks, Dean of the Jordan College of the Arts. “The generous gift from the Whitney Fund will help to ensure that this critical artistic intersection will continue to inspire and educate students and audiences alike.”

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Innovations in Teaching and Learning

One of the distinguishing features of a Butler education has always been the meaningful and enduring relationships between our faculty and students. Gifts to this pillar during Butler Beyond will accelerate our commitment to investing in faculty excellence by adding endowed positions, supporting faculty scholarship and research, renovating and expanding state-of-the-art teaching facilities, and more. Learn more, make a gift, and read other stories like this one at