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Grant Helps Butler Create Student-Run Insurance Company


PUBLISHED ON Aug 17 2015

The Butler University College of Business will establish a student-run insurance company with the goal of having the company fully operational by the 2019–2020 academic year, thanks to a $250,000 gift from MJ Insurance and Michael M. Bill.

The Butler business, known as a “captive insurance company,” will insure certain programs at Butler, perhaps including the live mascot, Butler Blue III, or physical damage to University vehicles.

Butler University's College of Business building June 26, 2013.College of Business Dean Steve Standifird said the idea behind the internal insurance company is to give students hands-on experience and prepare them for an industry that expects to need tens of thousands of new employees over the next seven years to replace workers who will be retiring.

“This captive insurance company builds on Butler’s model of experiential learning,” said Zach Finn, Clinical Professor & Director of the Davey Risk Management and Insurance Program in the College of Business, who will supervise the students. “We have students who manage a $2 million financial endowment, and many universities around the country do that. There’s no reason students with the proper setup couldn’t manage an insurance company.”

Finn said the program will give students the opportunity to look at risks that face the university, assess the financial impacts, and determine whether the risks would be best retained and paid for with university assets as they occur, through traditional insurance markets, or through a captive insurance company.

Students will learn how to write the insurance policy, what the coverage terms will be, how to finance the company, and more. They will be able to apply their risk-management expertise in accounting, investments and numerous other areas.

“We are excited about this partnership with Butler University and the Davey Program,” said Jon Loftin, President and COO, MJ Insurance. “Butler has consistently graduated students from the College of Business more prepared to enter the workforce due in large part to their emphasis on experiential learning and providing their students with the unique opportunity to apply the academic principles in a real-life setting.”

MJ and Bill’s initial gift will cover the minimum amount of capital that’s needed to fund a captive insurance company at its outset. The College of Business also will be soliciting gifts to fund the operating costs.

“The insurance industry has been very rewarding to me over my lifetime, and I appreciate all that it has given to me, my family, and the opportunity to be the founder of MJ Insurance, Inc. for the past 51 years,” said Michael M. Bill, chairman and founder of MJ Insurance. “If we can instill a path to the students via the kind of training that I had as a very young man, it will be not only rewarding to the students that graduate through the Butler University College of Business in Insurance and Risk Management, but will provide them with a livelihood and personal reward every day that they are in our industry.”

According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, the insurance industry will need to replace 104,000 insurance sales agents, 71,900 claims adjusters, 67,400 claims/policy processing clerks, 28,900 underwriters, 8,500 software developers/programmers, 7,500 computer/information analysts, and 6,900 actuaries by 2022.

Finn estimated that even if the approximately 50 colleges and universities that offer an insurance program were able to graduate about 50 students each year—an optimistic estimate, he said—that would still leave an enormous shortfall of people ready to step in and do the jobs.

“Our students, through this program, will graduate with those skills in hand,” Standifird said. “In an industry that is in desperate need of talent, we’ll not only be providing them talent, but talent that is much closer to being job-ready than they’re going to find anywhere else. That’s one of the big motivations for doing this—to give our students a significant advantage going into the workforce.”

Added Loftin: “We are encouraged by the increasing interest of the millennial generation in the insurance and risk management industry which has historically been viewed by college graduates as boring or stale compared to some other careers. We are finding that most young adults today are simply unaware of what extraordinary opportunities exists within this industry that often times align more closely with their career, financial and, most importantly, their life goals.

“Therefore, we believe that it’s merely a matter of creating awareness and educating these young adults of the career benefits and opportunities that do exist. We believe that many colleges and universities are sleeping on this industry that has a dire need for qualified talent. In fact, those universities that do have insurance and risk management programs are experiencing 100 percent job placement rates in most cases. Therefore, we cannot think of a better opportunity to assist our industry in generating interest in this field than by partnering with Butler University in creation of a student-run captive.”


Recent news coverage of this story:


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Prosecutor Names Butler 'Crime Fighter of the Year'


PUBLISHED ON Aug 04 2015

Butler University is the 2015 recipient of the Marion County Prosecutor’s Crime Fighter of the Year Award, presented on August 4 by Prosecutor Terry Curry to Butler University Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Public Safety Ben Hunter, Assistant Professor Brandie Oliver and Butler University Police Department Detective Bruce Allee.
Butler University was presented with the Crime Fighter of the Year Award at the 32nd annual National Night Out Kick-Off Ceremony on August 4. Pictured, from left, are Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Martin, Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Mears, Butler Assistant Police Chief Andy Ryan, Detective Bruce Allee, University Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Public Safety Ben Hunter, Assistant Professor Brandie Oliver, and Butler Assistant Police Chief John Conley.

Speaking at the 32nd annual National Night Out Kick-Off and Crime Fighter of the Year Award Ceremony, hosted by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Curry said Butler was chosen for the school’s work in improving the success of youth and families by addressing truancy, bullying, and through other crime prevention initiatives.

In 2013, Butler University partnered with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office to present the “End Bullying Now” forum. The event provided an opportunity for experts to educate parents, caregivers and educators on the educational, legal and psychological effects of bullying. Curry said his staff has utilized this information in the office’s outreach efforts with young people across the county, sharing solutions for prevention and intervention in bullying through the office’s CyberSafe program for students and their parents.

Butler and Oliver have also been instrumental in efforts to address truancy in Marion County. Recognizing that truancy often is a result of other family issues, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office set the goal of finding productive consequences for children who do attend school regularly and their parents. Oliver and Butler graduate students created and implemented a four-part parenting class that was court ordered as a condition of a diversion agreement for parents. Butler students also created and implemented a program for middle school students who were truant from school.

Butler University Police Department was recognized for implementing a successful anti-alcohol diversion program for university students, spearheaded by Detective Bruce Allee. Minor alcohol offenses by students on campus can be addressed through a pre-diversion program which requires students to participate in an impact panel and community service.

“We’re proud of the work that Dr. Oliver and Detective Allee have done,” Hunter said. “Indianapolis is our home, and Butler’s home, and we want to do whatever we can to make this a world-class city.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Butler Chorale Members Are Back For An Encore


PUBLISHED ON Jul 27 2015

He left Butler nearly 20 years ago, but, from 1986–1996, Michael Shasberger provided his students in the Butler Chorale with great memories—including five international tours and the staging of Handel’s “Messiah”—along with instruction that still guides them today.

The memories are so strong, in fact, that over the July 24–26 weekend, about two dozen of Shasberger’s former students came from all over the country to reunite and sing with him again in Indianapolis.
Former members of the Butler Chorale returned to Butler to sing with their former conductor, Michael Shasberger.

“He’s probably one of the finest choral conductors I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot of conductors,” said Sam Hepler ’94, a professional singer and musician based in New York City. “He’s a wonderful man and was a wonderful teacher—and I’m sure he still is—and he brought the best out of all of us.”

Shasberger and his former students rehearsed on Friday and Saturday for a Sunday performance at North United Methodist Church. The song selection included some numbers they performed in the student chorale, as well as a few more current pieces.

Mary Scheib ’96 organized this reunion, the second time Shasberger’s Butler students have gotten back together. (The first was in 2009.) These days, Scheib, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, sings as a freelancer and has a day job in professional development at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Although some of the reunion participants had never met each other because their years in school didn’t overlap, they were “bound by the shared experience of Michael Shasberger,” Scheib said.

“Dr. Shasberger has such a style with singers to not only make them comfortable singing in their own way—in their own voice, rather than in a choral voice—but to inspire them to sing better,” she said. “That created such an environment of growth while you’re here for four years that everybody wanted to come back and experience that again. Not to mention all the friendships that are forged and funny stories that happen along the way.”

Shasberger, who now teaches and conducts at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, estimated that about half the participants in this reunion are active as professional singers. Some still sing on the side, and some have found completely different careers.

What they have in common is “a wonderful sense of community. An incredible spirit ran through the group. It’s really affirming, and a real delight. And it’s so great to see them. They look fabulous, and they have so much energy, and, as I told them last night, ‘You’re all as old as I was when I was here.’”

As for Butler, it’s a far different place than they left.

“Butler looks fabulous,” Shasberger said. “The facilities are what we always talked and dreamed about and planned for. But what I’ve learned over the course of a 40-year career is that the work that really matters is the work that you leave that continues to prosper. And to see that here is really exciting.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Introducing the Hinkle Academy, a New Graduate Program


PUBLISHED ON Jul 22 2015

Graduate students looking to become leaders in wellness, sport, and allied fields now have a new option: the Hinkle Academy, a joint online venture of Butler University’s Department of Athletics, College of Education, and Health and Recreation Complex.

The program begins in the fall, offering 12 credits of graduate coursework spread out over 11 months. Classes will expose students to a variety of sport and wellness careers and lead to a 12-hour certificate that can be used toward a Master’s in Effective Teaching and Leadership at Butler or a graduate degree elsewhere.

Tony Hinkle Statue“In my world of rec sports, the competition is such that if you don’t have a master’s, you’re really behind the eight-ball,” said Scott Peden, Butler’s Director of Recreation. “It’s an incredibly competitive marketplace for jobs.”

For more information, contact Mindy Welch, Program Coordinator, at 317-940-9550 or More graduate information is available at

Subject areas in the Hinkle Academy coursework begin with an investigation of the Butler Way ethos for effective leadership, establishing culture, and building community. Coursework will include marketing, special events, program planning, and facilities management. “Regardless of what specific branch you go into in wellness, you’re going to have to know budgeting and finance and sponsorships and legal aspects and a boatload of specific topics,” Peden said. “Those are good foundational competencies to have, regardless.”

Hinkle Academy also will include the Butler/Indy Lab, a three-day residential workshop at Butler University and in Indianapolis, during which students will be able to meet the people—and tour the organizations and facilities—that drive Indianapolis’s reputation as a sports capital.

A capstone, eight-week summer apprenticeship can be completed in a student’s home organization or community.

"The Hinkle Academy provides a unique portal for candidates with shared interests in education, sport, and wellness and diverse backgrounds, careers, and goals to study leadership through the lens of the Butler Way," College of Education Associate Professor Mindy Welch said.

The certificate work is appropriate for current and future Butler alumni; licensed teachers and coaches in all sports at all levels; volunteer coaches affiliated with schools, churches, community centers, and fitness centers; professionals employed in sport and wellness; and individuals seeking career change or entrepreneurial opportunities in education, sports, athlete development, fitness, recreation, and wellness.

Michael Freeman, Butler’s Associate Athletic Director for External Operations, said the online coursework and flexibility of the program schedule “should provide insight and education on how there are many ways to get the job done in sport.”

“It can work for all types of people, from recent grads looking to break in to sport, folks looking for a career change or those already in sport and looking for self-improvement,” he said. "We could see a very diverse group of students.”

Peden said having all classes online is perfect for people who are in the workforce and can’t take the time to return to school for two years.

“There are a lot of students who are graduating from undergraduate coursework and looking to see what’s next,” he said. “This is a unique niche.”

See Welch and Freeman talking about the Hinkle Academy on Inside Indiana Business.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


NCAA Selects President Danko for Committee to Shape Future of College Sports


PUBLISHED ON Jul 08 2015

Butler University President James M. Danko will be among a group of college presidents, athletics administrators, faculty, students and conference commissioners to convene in Indianapolis August 4-5 to build the foundation for the future of college sports, the NCAA announced.
President Jim Danko

Participants were invited because of positions they hold in the Division I governance structure or affiliated organizations.

The Division I Strategic Summit participants include all members of the Board of Directors (including the student-athlete, athletics director, faculty athletics representative and senior woman administrator who serve on that group); Presidential Forum members from conferences that do not have representation on the board; the chair and vice chair of the Council; the chairs of the seven standing Council committees, the Committee on Academics and the Committee on Infractions; leaders from affiliated organizations who serve on the Council and the Board of Governors members from Divisions II and III.

The participants selected one of four strategic planning groups on which to serve that will study four different aspects of college sports. Each group will use outside experts as needed.

Each of the groups will focus on defining a specific area:

  • The Division I collegiate model of amateur athletics, including the key features of the Division I student-athlete experience and use of resources within athletics.How college sports should assist students while they are in college, including academic achievement and appropriate demands on time.
  • How college athletics should assist students to prepare for life after college, including those who wish to pursue athletics through professional pursuits and other high-level opportunities such as the Olympics.
  • The overarching principles for how the division should operate, including examining the current subdivision structure and the role of conferences.

Each strategic planning group will present background and analysis of its topic area to the summit participants in advance to help inform the discussion and ultimate creation of principles to guide the division’s decision-making in the future.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Ushering in the Indianapolis Bicentennial, With Butler's Help


PUBLISHED ON Jun 02 2015

Nine emerging leaders—including Butler University Sustainability Coordinator McKenzie Beverage and 2014 graduates Aaron Harrison and Samantha Helferich—will play a pivotal role in setting the stage for implementing the Bicentennial Plan, a visionary, community-unified component of the Plan 2020 initiative and the future of Indianapolis-Marion County.
McKenzie Beverage

Last year, the CityCorps Fellowship program was designed to generate new ideas around defined themes — Choose, Connect, Love, Serve and Work – which were relevant to Plan 2020 committees. This year, Plan 2020 is shifting into the next phase, turning research, data, and ideas into tangible action steps towards improving neighborhoods, increasing connectivity, advancing workforce development and promoting civic engagement in Marion County.

These 2015 Fellows will work to inform technical plans of the city (like the Comprehensive and Regional Center Plans), build capacity for a movement (like #loveindy), and supplement capacity for implementing partners.

Beverage’s focus will be Planning for Resiliency in Indianapolis. This fellowship will lay the groundwork for a resiliency master plan that builds the capacity of Indianapolis residents, communities, businesses, and systems to survive, adapt, and grow regardless of the chronic stresses or acute shocks they experience. It will assess environmental, economic, and social risks confronting Indianapolis, identify related assets, analyze current programs, and recommend a decision‐making framework.

Beverage will facilitate a process to effectively identify, convene, educate and engage stakeholders on the information and tools needed to develop a resiliency plan. A report with the outcomes of this process will be produced.

Harrison and Helferich will work on A Collective Effort: Utilizing and Leveraging the Intellectual and Civic Capacity of Indy’s Youth. Their fellowship creates an executable strategy for engaging Indianapolis’s youth in our city’s efforts to develop and implement the strategic framework necessary to make it a better place to live, work, serve, love, and connect.

This work will create a plan for a scalable program that: (1) utilizes project‐based curriculum co‐developed by Indianapolis educators, entrepreneurs, and community innovators to empower students (grade range to‐be‐determined K - 12) to view their world through the lens of an entrepreneur or community innovator; (2) tasks students with developing solutions to the priorities inspired by those within the Bicentennial Plan; and (3) aligns with Indiana Academic Standards, with a particular emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and the arts.

“The fellowship program is a nationally distinctive element of Plan 2020 and will support the committees through cutting edge research and thought creation,” said Brooke Thomas, Deputy Director for the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee. “The Fellows will do more than just brainstorm new ideas, they will operationalize their ideas and deliver something that is both innovative, but also supported by data and research.”

CityCorps Fellows were selected through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process issued by Plan 2020. Proposals were evaluated based on the contribution their ideas had on envisioning and improving the future of Indianapolis and addressing specific needs set forth by the Plan 2020 team.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


'Make Change' Program Expands Again


PUBLISHED ON May 18 2015

Make Change, the Butler University Center for Urban Ecology program that generates “credit” for doing good for the environment, has added new activities that participants can do to earn redeemable currency.

changeVolunteering with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful at select events, dropping off old electronics at RecycleForce, and enrolling in the IPL Green Power option are some of the new ways to earn credit. Also, Make Change has developed a partnership with Circle City Rain Barrels to offer discounted rain barrel-building workshops every third Saturday through August.

The full list of activities can be found at

In addition, participants in the Make Change program are now able to spend the currency at eight businesses in Fountain Square and the Near Eastside, thanks to a SustainIndy Community Grant that runs through November 1.

The new business partners in the program are People for Urban Progress, Rocket 88 Doughnuts, VeloWorks Urban Cyclery, and Wildwood Market in Fountain Square, and Little Green Bean Boutique, Metta Yoga, Pogue’s Run Grocer, and Khaos Company Theatre on the Near Eastside.

Each hour of activity a person does is worth $10 in aluminum coins specially created for this program. Also available are quarter-hour coins that equal $2.50 worth of activity.

The program has been operating in Midtown since 2012 and will continue to run there. Businesses currently accepting the currency include Unleavened Bread Café, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Freewheelin' Community Bikes, Fall Creek Gardens, Duos Kitchen, KI EcoCenter, Agrarian, Indy Upcycle, Good Earth Natural Foods, Broad Ripple Brew Pub, and the Center for Urban Ecology Farm at Butler.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Forbes Magazine Lauds Butler's Commencement


PUBLISHED ON May 14 2015

Forbes magazine contributor James Marshall Crotty came to campus for commencement and filed a story in praise of speaker Eva Kor's "never give up" message and Butler's approach to education.
James Marshall Crotty

He concluded: "Indeed, as we prepare our students for a tech-driven future, let’s remember the perennial attributes of what made this nation great: service, humility, self-reliance, basic human decency, and a deep remembrance of history chased by the enduring power of forgiveness. Calm, quiet, and humble schools like Butler University are showing us how to model those values every day of our lives."

Read the full story here.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


What to See in Indy? Holcomb, Holcomb, Hinkle


PUBLISHED ON May 01 2015

Butler University is well represented in the new book 100 Things to Do in Indianapolis Before You Die. And not just because it’s written by Ashley Petry, who went to preschool at Butler, earned her MBA here in 2006, and is finishing her MFA in Creative Writing.

No, Petry said, Butler gets its due because Hinkle Fieldhouse, Holcomb Gardens, and the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium fit the bill. (Plump’s Last Shot, the Broad Ripple restaurant owned by Bobby Plump ’58, is another of the 100.)

100 Things to Do in Indianapolis Before You Die“Butler’s campus is right in the heart of Indianapolis, but many people don’t know about the assets we have here—destinations that can appeal to both visitors and Indy residents,” she said. “I hope this book can help spread the word.”

Petry said that after getting the assignment from publisher Reedy Press, she began compiling a list of places to see and things to do in the areas of food and drink, culture and history, sports and recreation, shopping and fashion, and music and entertainment.

About 80 of the 100 turned out to be things she’d already written about as a freelance travel and food writer for Conde Nast Traveler, Midwest Living, the Indianapolis Star, and other publications. Others were recommendations from friends.

In doing the research, she took her first visits to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum and duckpin bowling in Fountain Square. She also saw Crown Hill Cemetery as more than just a burial site.

“They have great tours and beautiful architecture,” she said. “A lot of people wouldn’t think to go there for a picnic, but the view from James Whitcomb Riley’s grave at the top of the hill is gorgeous at sunset.”

Petry spent last fall researching and writing the book. She said getting to be a tourist gave her a new appreciation for her hometown.

“When you live somewhere, sometimes you take it for granted,” she said. “Writing this book gave me a reason to do the things I’ve been meaning to do.”

The book 100 Things to Do in Indianapolis Before You Die is currently available online at and Barnes & Noble. The official release party is Friday, May 22, at 7:00 p.m. at Indy Reads Books. It is open to the public. Petry will be signing books, and there will be an Indy trivia contest complete with prizes from the 100 Things list.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


Students Take Responsibility for Keeping Each Other Safe

BY Sarvary Koller ’15

PUBLISHED ON Apr 06 2015

Hannah Hendricks’ experience with sexual assault hits especially close to home for Butler students—she was raped during her first year on campus.

“Students know that sexual assault exists,” said Noelle Rich, founder of Stand Tall, a student organization dedicated to awareness and prevention of sexual assault. “But not everyone knows it exists on our campus. Having Hannah hear to talk about it as someone who’s been a Butler student, gone to the campus Starbucks, studied on the Mall—it brought the issue back here. It could happen to any of us.”
Noelle Rich and Austin Del Priore emceed and helped organize the "It's On Us" Butler kickoff.

Hendricks came to speak as a part of the “It’s On Us” Butler Kickoff event on Monday, March 30, in which students signed a pledge to end campus sexual assault.

The pledge is a part of President Barack Obama’s national “It’s On Us” campaign, and it encourages “a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. It is a promise not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be a part of the solution.” (Take the pledge here.)

Butler’s event, organized by the Student Government Association’s Council on Presidential Affairs (CPA) with involvement from the Presidential Commission on Sexual Assault and the Stand Tall student organization, kick-started the university’s involvement in Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April.

The event was part of a larger initiative to eradicate sexual assault on campus. (Check out the SGA “It’s On Us” video here.)

Over 500 students gathered in the Atherton Union Reilly Room to sign the pledge and learn more about the nature of sexual assault, how to prevent it, and where to find help or information.

Austin Del Priore, SGA President of Administration, emceed the event with Stand Tall founder Rich, and he said he was thrilled by the heavy turnout.

“I was immensely proud of the campus community for uniting around such an important cause,” Del Priore said. “Butler students are involved in so many different clubs and organizations, but we all share the fact that we belong to the greater Butler community. I believe we all have an obligation to make that community a safe place for everyone.”

Campus representatives from Counseling and Consultation Services, the Victim Advocate, and University police participated in the event to demonstrate the support available to students on campus and the university’s dedication to creating a safe and healthy campus environment.

But sexual assault exists everywhere, not just on a college campus.

Representatives from several community agencies, including the Julian Center, Legacy House, Domestic Violence Network, and Center of Hope, joined the event to speak about the availability of community resources to students and survivors of assault. Each organization addressed the group of attendees, and students were able to connect one-on-one with agency leaders at the conclusion of the program.

Sarah Diaz, Coordinator for Health Education and Outreach Programs, said she hopes the involvement of community agencies encourages students to reach out for information and discover new ways to make an impact in Indianapolis and beyond.

At the end of the event, students left armed with the resources, community connections, and an “It’s On Us” T-shirt to act as crusaders in the effort to end campus sexual assault.

Rich said she is excited to see the rapid growth of sexual assault awareness on campus. From the start of her Stand Tall photo project last semester to becoming a recognized and valuable student organization this semester, Rich said she hopes the momentum keeps up.

“To see it all come together has been really cool for me,” Rich said. “We are putting on the same T-shirt, promoting the same cause. We are all Butler students coming together to be on the side of change on our campus.”


Butler Issues Statement on RFRA Change


PUBLISHED ON Apr 02 2015

Butler University issued the following statement after the legislature voted to change Indiana's divisive "Religious Freedom" law:

This Organization Serves EveryoneButler University applauds and supports today’s proposed revisions to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They represent a strong step forward and make clear that discrimination has no place in Indiana.

The people of Indiana often talk about “Hoosier values.” Butler University reflects the best of those values. We believe that all people should be welcome, regardless of sexual orientation, religion, gender, race, or ethnicity. Ours is a culture of acceptance and inclusivity that began with our abolitionist founder in 1855 and continues to pervade the Butler University community today.

The outpouring of support and advocacy across Indiana over the last several days is clear evidence that these Butler values are shared by institutions, businesses, and citizens across our great state.

Now the real work begins—to build upon today’s efforts to ensure our state is forever free from the taint of discrimination, and to restore our state’s reputation as one of the nation’s best places to live, visit, and do business.


Media contact:
Marc Allan


President Danko Issues Statement on 'Religious Freedom' Law


PUBLISHED ON Apr 01 2015

On March 26, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the controversial "Religious Freedom Reform Act" (RFRA).

The result was a backlash that spread across the country.

Butler President James M. Danko was the first university president to speak out against the law. (See President Danko discussing the "Religious Freedom" act on MSNBC here and here.)

This is the statement he issued on Sunday, March 29:

As president of Butler University I am particularly sensitive to the importance of supporting and facilitating an environment of open dialogue and critical inquiry, where free speech and a wide range of opinion is valued and respected. Thus, it is with a certain degree of apprehension that I step into the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

However, over the past week I have heard from many Butler community members—as well as prospective students, parents, and employees—who have expressed concerns about the impact this law may have on our state and our University. As such, I feel compelled to share my perspective and to reinforce the values of Butler University.

President DankoWhile I have read a variety of opinions and rationale for RFRA, it strikes me as ill-conceived legislation at best, and I fear that some of those who advanced it have allowed their personal or political agendas to supersede the best interests of the State of Indiana and its people. No matter your opinion of the law, it is hard to argue with the fact it has done significant damage to our state.

Like countless other Hoosier institutions, organizations, and businesses, Butler University reaffirms our longstanding commitment to reject discrimination and create an environment that is open to everyone.

Today, more than ever, it is important that we continue to build, cultivate, and defend a culture in which all members of our community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the public—can learn, work, engage, and thrive. It is our sincere hope that those around the country with their ears turned toward our Hoosier state hear just one thing loud and clear—the united voice of millions who support inclusion and abhor discrimination.

Butler is an institution where all people are welcome and valued, regardless of sexual orientation, religion, gender, race, or ethnicity; a culture of acceptance and inclusivity that is as old as the University itself. Butler was the first school in Indiana and third in the United States to enroll women as students on an equal basis with men, was among the first colleges in the nation to enroll African Americans, and was the second U.S. school to name a female professor to its faculty.

I strongly encourage our state leaders to take immediate action to address the damage done by this legislation and to reaffirm the fact that Indiana is a place that welcomes, supports, respects, and values all people.