As I sat down to write this message, my wife Bethanie told me that she’d just purchased tickets for the Butler Theatre performance of The Little Prince. Although Bethanie normally prefers to read mysteries and I enjoy biographies, this classic book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a shared childhood favorite of ours. We still treasure the story for many reasons, including its celebration of creativity. Saint-Exupéry’s concept of vision as a sense that goes beyond that which is obvious to the eye—one that requires humanity, imagination, and courage—is something that we both deeply value. Not surprisingly, it is also a concept that is woven through Butler’s history and present-day campus culture.
Fifty years before American women had the right to vote, Ovid Butler endowed the first chair in the nation specifically for a female professor in honor of his daughter Demia. And nearly a century ago, in the midst of a KKK resurgence in the state, seven young African American visionaries founded Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. at Butler. It is now a nationwide Greek organization with more than 500 chapters. Whether through the groundbreaking social-justice initiatives of our founders, the actions of those in the generations that preceded us, the introduction of the “blue book” and the orange basketball, or housing the largest telescope in Indiana, Bulldogs have always pioneered new ideas.
In this edition of Butler Magazine, you’ll find that today’s visionary spirit at Butler is stronger than ever. Our faculty, staff, students, and alumni are rolling up their sleeves and immersing themselves in entrepreneurial, technological, research, and service projects. And they are doing so within a Liberal Arts model that encourages humanity, imagination, courage, and a lifelong love of learning.
I think the Little Prince would be pleased.