As Butler seeks to support learners of all life stages and in alignment with the University’s Strategic Direction, the Division of Professional Studies (DPS) was established to serve the needs of adult and online learners through degree, certificate, and non-degree programs. It also helps organizations achieve their employee training and development goals through the creation of custom programs tailored to an organization’s needs. Julie Straub, the inaugural Senior Executive Director for DPS, describes how Butler+ will serve as the entry point for non-traditional learners served through DPS.

What is Butler+?
Butler+ is a University-wide initiative—our virtual front door that unites online, graduate, and professional learning (non-credit pathways). It’s a collection of opportunities and services that are targeted to be able to serve those students that Butler hasn’t traditionally served in the past—so anything that extends access to the University, opening pathways to personal and professional advancement for career-focused adults who want to earn degrees or credentials that will advance their career and economic mobility.

Why does the University need a strategy like Butler+?
The way that we learn—and work—has changed, so the way that we approach how we teach and provide services to individuals also has to change and be responsive to a lifetime of learning. We know the demographic shift has already started as we see there are fewer students in the traditional market and the needs of the workforce are changing. We’re talking about both individual learners and organizations because we’re seeing our partners out in industry with jobs they can’t fill, and they’re not able to retain the employees they have. That’s the big focus—being responsive to what the needs of the industry and our community are. We are using data and research to keep a close finger on the pulse of what’s happening and what the challenges are and working to really co-create those solutions together.

What does that look like for the learner?
Whatever it is, if there’s a transition that someone is wanting to upskill or trying to prepare for a new position or earn a promotion and needs to learn a skill, there is that next step. That’s how we landed on the tagline, “Find Your Next.” Most adults can’t stop working and just focus on school full time, so they need an educational model that allows them to work and care for their family and go to school all at the same time.

Also, sometimes individuals aren’t ready for a full degree. They may want to come in and get a digital credential, a “just in time” type of skill or knowledge that they need to help them stand out in a job search. Later they may want to come back to Butler and stack that forward toward a certificate or toward a degree program. They want to continue to build on the knowledge and skills that they gain over time to continue to promote and accelerate their pathway. We want to be the partner of choice for people in that educational journey across their lifetime.

How is Butler+ funded?
We received generous initial funding through our partnership with the Lilly Foundation in a three-year grant. We just passed our 50 percent mark in that grant, with approximately 18 months left in the grant timeline. Our measurement metrics that we are accountable for achieving are the number of programs that we launch, the number of learners that we serve, and the amount of anticipated revenue that we’re able to generate for impact in this area. We already have exceeded our number of programs and learners and we’ll be working toward the revenue and continuing to increase opportunities and pathways over the next year and a half.

Julie Straub has grounded her career in entrepreneurial education initiatives, launching new, innovative approaches to online, professional, corporate, and adult lifelong learning programs. Previously, Straub served as the founding Director of the Miami University (Ohio) E-Campus to build a virtual enterprise to expand access and affordability to higher education. She led the creation of a full-service virtual campus that offers online programs, degrees, and digital credentials with exponential growth and success in the persistence of online and adult learners to increase high-quality access and equity in education and career opportunities through partnerships in the public and private sectors.

Programs Currently Offered Through Butler+

Online Degree Programs:

  • Strategic Communication Graduate Certificate
  • Master of Science in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Business Administration Online Program
  • Master of Science in Data Analytics
  • Doctor of Pharmacy Online Pathway
  • Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling
  • Master of Science in School Counseling

Professional Education Offerings:

  • Butler Insurance Academy
  • Cyber Risk Management Certificate
  • Enterprise Risk Management Certificate
  • Insurance and Securities Licensure Test Prep
  • CFP Test Prep Certificate
  • Foundations in Business Certificate
  • Teacher-Led, Teacher Education
  • Early Childhood Educator Certificate Program
  • Coaching as a Mentality Course
  • Design Thinking Certificate
  • Certified Management Consultant Designation
  • Medical Device Sales Program