Last week, we learned that Bobby Fong would be leaving Butler University to become president of Ursinus College.
Although we are sad to see Fong leave, the staff of The Butler Collegian knows that change can be a good thing, if it comes in the right way. The prospect of a new president gave us a chance to talk about what kind of person we want as the next leader of Butler.
We feel that the incoming university president should focus on keeping Butler small, be personable and available to students, be forward thinking and ensure that Butler is still centered around its outstanding academics.
This is especially important after the publicity and success of the men’s basketball and soccer teams.
This year, Butler University welcomed its largest freshmen class in history—1,067 students.
This dramatic increase in enrollment stemmed from Butler’s impressive run to the NCAA Division I Men’s National Championship game in April. While we are flattered by such publicity and widespread interest, we find it vital to keep Butler a small university.
The way our campus is currently structured would not allow for freshmen classes much larger than the current class.
Other benefits of a small school include one-onone relationships with professors. Most class sizes, on average, are 20 students. This creates a personal atmosphere with plenty of room for interaction with professors and other students.
Education is personalized at Butler. Most students are learning in small classrooms rather than in 200-person lecture halls like at larger universities.
Butler professors are also highly accessible.
With open office hours and almost-constant availability, students are afforded the best education and the personal relationships with their professors.
President Fong’s support of the Amethyst Initiative represents the respect for the student body he has shown over his 10 years.
The Amethyst Initiative is a collection of college presidents who promote lowering the drinking age to 18 in order to encourage responsible drinking throughout college years.
The president’s involvement represents forward- thinking policy that we fear might be lost with his replacement.
With the publicity Butler University has received from the success of our sports programs, the administration might shy away from the Amethyst initiative as a possible source of controversy.
Furthermore, with the successes of the men’s basketball and soccer teams, there is a certain fear that academics will not be as big of a focus of the university president.
We hope whoever succeeds Fong will successfully balance the recent publicity with the longstanding tradition of academic excellence.
Even though many of the qualities we list epitomize Bobby Fong’s personality, during this transition, there is an opportunity to find a president with qualities better-suited to meet the changing university.
With our newfound status, Butler University needs a president that energizes the student body and represents “the Butler Way” to the community and nation.
This transition for Butler University does present a good opportunity to change the perception of the administration.
With a new president, the university can distance itself from controversy stemming from a libel lawsuit of spring 2009 concerning a former student.
Fong’s involvement in the suit damaged his image as a champion of the undergraduate student body.
We hope to have a president who can embody all these values while simultaneously not using Butler University as a stepping-stone for their career.
Although we will miss Fong, we are excited to see what the new president can bring to our university.