In the past two years, Butler University has seen many changes in its top leadership.
We’ve seen a change in the presidency, the deans of the Jordan College of Fine Arts and Liberal Arts and Sciences and the beginning of a search for a dean of the new College of Communication.
Most recently came the announcement that Jamie Comstock asked to step down from her role as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the end of the fall semester.
Comstock said in an interview with The Collegian that in the last five years she has seen a change of over 30 percent in the make-up of Butler’s faculty.
It all feels like a lot of change for an institution as close-knit as Butler.
Students, faculty and staff express the legitimate concern that it is difficult for an institution to sustain its spirit and traditions with all of this shuffling of the upper leadership.
Any change is sure to cause a readjustment period, but we at The Butler Collegian believe that change can and will empower and revitalize the university to adapt to the larger, ever-changing world.
It is clear in the current economy that open minds and new approaches to old problems are necessary. The new wave of administrators offer an excellent example to students of what Butler students should become, forces of change and problem solving.
All administrators need to listen to their students and respect the values of the community, but nothing prevents new deans, presidents and provosts from doing this just as well as those already holding the positions.
And some entrenched administrators, regardless of their personal achievement or merit, become divisive figures.
Perhaps because Butler is a small school, changes in the administration seem like a bigger matter than at larger institutions.
In many ways, the small campus forms a community that might be easily disrupted by any changes.
When administrative changes happen, the productive learning environment is distracted by a community of curious, intelligent individuals who are eager to speculate about the future of their beloved institution.
This speculation and curiosity is almost always misplaced as fear of what is to come.
With two top administrative positions still open and more changes on the way, it is fair to say that students, faculty and staff do not know what entirely to expect in the spring 2012 semester.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
In President Jim Danko’s short time at Butler, he already has shown remarkable support for the university’s core spirit while also bringing fresh eyes to old obstacles.
He’s working to tackle tough administrative, financial and structural concerns, all of which require the collaboration of the entire university community.
Danko and several other administrators have thus far made communication with students, faculty and organizations as transparent as possible.
At a certain point, the university community should accept that change is usually a good thing, and that the administrators at this institution were hired for a reason: to make changes—some of which may make some waves in a community of intelligent academics and students and always ready to turn the inquisitive and critical eye to any situation.
All of the changes in the administration may be exactly what Butler needs to grow into its next era—hopefully an era of possibilities and new financial and leadership opportunities that catapult Butler to the top of those ranking lists that we all love to hate.
The legacy of any administrator can be positive or negative.
In the last five years, Butler has seen a lot of growth in both class size and national attention, especially from back-to-back NCAA men’s basketball championship appearances.
A lot of that attention has been positive, such as the academic achievement of students and the previously mentioned basketball teams.
However, the university has also faced controversies such as the case of Butler University v. John Doe aka Soodo Nym, and increased scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in the form of a Title IX compliance review.
No one can predict the future, and even the best institutions are bound to face challenges.
But as long as the top level of the university’s leadership works to both preserve Butler’s core values and grow the community in new ways, The Collegian welcomes the leadership changes.