Each year the Indiana Business Journal recognizes 20 distinguished women of Indiana as “Women of Influence.”
This year, Ena Shelley, dean of College of Education, made that list.
According to the IBJ website, their Women of Influence program “recognizes central Indiana women who exemplify the traits required to be outstanding leaders in their chosen fields.”
Shelley said she first heard of her nomination in early October but she didn’t believe it was really true. “Who me?” she said. “That was my first reaction.
“I was like, ‘the IBJ’? I think about people in the IBJ being these successful corporate business women so I was truly surprised.”
Shelley said she was nominated by Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Eugene White, but a handful of other faculty and friends wrote letters also sending their praise and recommendations.
“[Bobby] Fong did such a nice job of saying how the basketball team was shining the light on Butler [during the Final Four],” Shelley said. “That’s really how I feel about this award, this is shining the light on the College of Education and on Butler and on the teaching profession.
“That a group like the IBJ has acknowledged the importance of education—that’s a privilege.”
Shelley said from the time she was in high school she has always known that teaching was what she was meant to do.
“I just love to learn,” she said.
She said the profession is rewarding for her each and every time she is able to help a student.
“I feel it’s almost a sacred part that you play in someone’s life,” she said.
Although she said she feels a deep love for her profession, there are changes she said she would like to see in the education system as a whole.
“I am passionate about equity,” Shelley said, “and providing a high quality education for all children, not just those who can afford it.”
Shelley said she is also passionate about serving young children because Indiana is one of eight states that doesn’t fund early childhood.
“People wonder why we have children not reading well in the third grade. Well we wouldn’t have to worry if we would invest in the best practices early,” she said.
Shelley said she is currently in the process of drafting legislation to get policy makers to invest in early childhood education. She said the key to making the changes she would like to see in education successful is starting with the teachers.
“I think the best and brightest have to be teaching,” she said. “We have got to change how teachers are compensated and how teachers are respected. In other countries that are doing extremely well, teachers are well paid, but they are also highly respected.
“There has become a dialogue in our country of, ‘Let’s blame all the social ills on schools and teachers; it’s all their fault,’ and it isn’t. So I would like to see a different dialogue happen. Let’s be problem-solution focused in getting this done and quit blaming.”
Julie Glenn, senior education major, said Shelley has played an integral role in her time here at Butler and that no one deserved the IBJ Woman of Influence recognition more.
“Dean Shelley is a remarkable individual and leader. She is spunky, full of life, eager, energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, inspiring and motivated,” said Glenn. Outstanding advisEr: Sarah Barnes (middle) “If you asked her, she would just say she was another ‘normal’ person, but she really is not.
“I have never met someone in my life so willing and caring about others and she makes you want to be a better person everyday and pushes you to be the best you can be.”
Glenn said what makes Shelley so unlike anyone else is that she is able to “make dreams come true.”
“[Shelley] is a great asset to Butler because she is an innovator,” Glenn said. “She is always working on a project—if it’s not Shortridge, the new COE building, a current issue in the COE or one of her many other thousands of projects— she is always working on a way to make the Butler community better and the greater Indianapolis area better.
“She really cares about individuals, our college, as well as the entire university. She always looks and acts for the best of everyone.
“She is a prime example of the ‘Butler Way.’”