Butler University President Jim Danko has held 19 informational meetings and tours with university administrators and faculty to “immerse” himself into Butler’s community and academic affairs.
These meetings included visiting the six academic colleges and talking with the provost, associate provosts and representatives from the administrative departments.
Danko had the head of each department send him a four-page summary on each respective division, which highlighted its challenges, organization and goals.
“When I started all of this, several were unsure of how it would go,” Danko said.
“And I said, ‘Listen. Consider me a student. Your job is to just educate me on what happens in your department.’”
Danko said he noticed in his meetings that space is becoming limited in each of the colleges.
“They feel stretched thin in terms of faculty resources and with administrative resources,” he said.
COB Dean Chuck Williams said he agrees.
“As of this year, we are running out of offices for professors, which is a problem because we are hiring next year,” Williams said.
“We do not have space issues for students yet, but our enrollment has greatly increased, so we potentially could very quickly.”
COPHS Dean Mary Andritz said she expressed the potential need for more space for pharmacy students’ experiential programs with Danko at her meeting.
Since pharmacy students are required to do on-site shadowing at various health clinics and with faculty, Andritz said she wants to make sure these opportunities stay open for students.
“One of the things I talked to President Danko about was looking into sort of a crystal ball and seeing how we could minimize this as being a future problem,” Andritz said.
Andritz said she ultimately wanted Danko to realize how COPHS wants to be helpful not only to students but also to Indianapolis.
“The one message I wanted to get across to [Danko] is that we feel we are poised to do beneficial things for the community,” Andritz said.
“The good job we do is like the cake, and we want to add the icing and sprinkles, which are the things that set us apart in helping the community.”
Danko said he also wants to make improvements to the library by updating its current infrastructure and facility.
“I did see the library,” Danko said.
“Clearly we do not have the library of the twenty-first century right now. That building is certainly up there in age and does not represent the best that you would want it to be.”
Dean of Libraries Lewis Miller said he welcomes Danko but feels if substantial changes were to be made, there would need to be a follow-up meeting.
“It was just an introduction, so to me in order for planning there would need to be a follow-up,” Miller said.
“I do appreciate his including of the library in his introduction, because I do think the library is very important to academics.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jamie Comstock attended a briefing and said the meetings will help the university plan its future and achieve its goals.
“All of the information is providing him a solid foundation in Butler and providing him a chance to listen to our ideas and dreams for the future,” Comstock said.
“I am very happy he wanted to invest time to learn about each of the areas. He spent one to three hours in each of the meetings, so he has invested heavily to take that grounding to plan for the future.”
Williams said he thinks the meetings will ultimately be beneficial to the university.
“He is not only learning more about [the departments] but also about their leaders and staff,” Williams said.
“It takes a while to learn about an institution like Butler. He has to know what he has inherited, so it is very good for him to listen intently to understand Butler.”