This January, the Butler University community is adjusting to several administrative changes, as well as new classes, a new police K9 at the Butler University Police Department and an updated dining facility.
With two major administrative positions—the College of Communication dean and provost—still in need of being filled permanently, President Jim Danko’s administrative dream team will continue to evolve over the next 18 months.
Danko appointed psychology professor Kathryn Morris to fill the role of interim provost starting Jan. 1 after former provost Jamie Comstock asked to step down in November.
Ben Hunter, an Indianapolis City-County councillor, was promoted to Danko’s chief of staff and executive director of public safety, effective immediately. Bruce Arick will now serve as the university’s vice president for finance and administration, giving him power over several university entities, including Clowes Memorial Hall.
“Certain administrative change decisions are a function of organizing to best adapt to the strengths or weaknesses of a president,” Danko said in an email regarding the changes, “and some have to do with my own personal experience at other universities about how to make an organization more effective.”
The provost search committee will meet for the first time on
Danko said he appointed Morris to the interim provost position with the knowledge that it could be difficult for the committee to fill the permanent position by the end of the year, since the search will be starting at an unusual time.
“It was important to me, and for the community, that we have someone in place who would assume leadership no differently than someone hired on a permanent basis,” Danko said.
Danko said in an email he fully supports Morris, who chairs the psychology department and has been a member of Butler’s faculty since 1996.
At a Dec. 6 Faculty Senate meeting, Danko said the interim provost would serve in that position for six to 18 months.
There has been no announcement about who will become the first permanent dean of the College of Communication.
Gary Edgerton, one of the three final dean candidates who presented to faculty, staff and students in November, visited Butler last week.
Danko said he met with Edgerton last week.
“He indicated he had a very positive visit and remains very impressed with Butler University,” Danko said.
Hunter’s and Arick’s new positions were announced on Jan. 10 in a memo to faculty members.
Danko said in an email he expanded their roles in order to make sure the administration is organized effectively.
“Since the president is instrumental in making personal connections, and there is much to be gained through being highly visible in the community, it is important that strong and competent leadership is empowered to manage a variety of day-to-day internal matters,” he said.
Previously serving as Butler’s police chief and director of public safety, Hunter will continue his leadership of the public safety department from the president’s office.
Hunter said that there will not be a new police chief at Butler University but that Assistant Chief of Police Andrew Ryan was promoted to Hunter’s executive officer.
“I’ve had a long history with Butler,” Hunter said. “My goal is to learn and assist and move the university forward.”
Hunter will “advise Butler’s senior administrative leadership and its board of trustees on a breadth of high-level policy, governance and procedural issues, as well as on safety and security issues,” Danko said in the memo.
Hunter also will continue to build relationships in the Indianapolis community and navigate different local and state issues that affect Butler, such as the city’s updated mass transit proposal, IndyConnect.
While Butler is not currently included in the IndyConnect plan, Hunter said he will work in his new role to make sure Butler has a voice when the Statehouse considers it.
“I’ll be handling these issues in a team atmosphere with university relations and other experts,” Hunter said. “It’s not going to be just me, but it’s going to be a consistent voice on behalf of the president.”
Arick will continue his management of Butler’s finances but will expand his oversight into facilities, human resources, information technology and Clowes Memorial Hall.
“We already have phenomenal leadership in these areas,” Arick said. “It’s always nice to walk into something that is working well. We can start with a strength and make it even better.”
Arick said an expected challenge of the change will be to figure out how to effectively manage time.
“It’s something new and a bit of an unknown, but it is helped by the fact that you have a strong team out there to help,” he said.
Danko said in the memo that Arick will better be able to manage the day-to-day duties of these departments, which previously were under the president’s direct supervision.
“This change comes with the expectation of improved service quality and efficiency,” Danko said.
Provost Search Committee:
Priscilla Arling, COB
Kathryn Brooks, COE
Ronald Caltabiano, JCFA
Kenneth Creech, CCOM
Penny Dimmick, JCFA
Thomas Fischer, Trustee
Hilene Flanzbaum, LAS
Levester Johnson, Student Affairs
Joseph Kirsch, LAS
Robert Marcus, Financial Planning
Antonio Menendez, LAS
Sondrea Ozolins, Registrar
Josh Petrusa, Library
Carmen Salsbury, LAS
Jennifer Snyder, COPHS
Lisa Walton, Ex-Officio, HR
Denise Williams, COB