The search for a new president is underway after Butler University President Bobby Fong announced on Oct. 29 that he will be leaving his position at the end of the academic year.
The announcement was a surprise not only to the students at Butler, but also to Butler’s Board of Trustees.
The board, which is responsible for the hiring and firing of a president, scrambled to meet at the end of last week to discuss what would happen next for Fong’s empty seat when he leaves for Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa.
John Hargrove, chairman of the board, called for a conference call last Friday to discuss the details of what is next for Butler.
The group of more than 30 members’ goal is to find a replacement by the end of the academic year, something that may be a relatively easy task since Butler’s name has been in the spotlight.
The job listing hasn’t been made public yet, so the job requirements aren’t completely planned out, but the board said it hopes to find a candidate that will continue to push “the Butler Way.”
One thing, however, that the board does know is that it doesn’t want the new president to alter
the face of Butler drastically.
“Why w o u l d we want to change it to be like someone else?” Hargrove said in a recent interview with the Indianapolis Star. “We want people to be like us.”
The committee will launch a nationwide search to fill the spot, but Hargove said the legacy Fong has left will be a difficult one to follow.
“Our books were out of line,” Hargrove said. “We gave him three yeras to balance the budget. He did it in less than a year.”
Many students and members of the Butler community started to wonder who will replace Fong if the board decided to hire someone who already holds a position at Butler University.
While some students questioned if Levester Johnson, vice president of student affairs, would fill the position, Johnson said on his Facebook account that he would not be “throwing his hat into the ring.”
“I hope to add my two cents in on the decision,” Johnson said. “We should have a great pool given the visability of the school at this point due to [Fong’s] leadership and hard work of community members.
“But for now, I’ll focus on being the best ‘Vice President LJ’ that I can be.”
Another speculation about an inside-hire is that Provost Jamie Comstock would be a potential candidate for the position.
Comstock didn’t comment on the matter, but said the board hasn’t had much time to work out any details.
“We just found out when everyone else did, so it’s been difficult to work out any details,” Comstock said.
While the future of Butler’s presidency remains a mystery, Fong sent out an e-mail Tuesday regarding concerns expressed by students and members of the community.
“We are a family here at Butler, one of which I’m proud to be a part,” Fong said. “I’m sorry that I could not confide the news to the Butler family I was on the verge of accepting another appointment. But the protocol in situations like this is that the new school makes the announcement.”
Fong also answered the questions that have been on the minds of many—why?
“I was brought to Butler 10 years ago to do a number of things,” Fong said. “One was to restore financial stability to the university. Another was to sharpen and enhance Butler’s profile. Since 2001, these things have been done.”
He went on to say he is hopeful for the future of Butler and is grateful for the backing he has received.
“I’ve been touched by the outpouring of support from the Butler community over the past 10 days.”
Fong said. “I’m grateful for the part I played in your lives.
“My hope is that what has been achieved here will be permanent aspects of a Butler that has climbed to new heights.”