Endowment part of discussion at president’s town hall

Economic and spatial growth were on the minds of students and vice presidents at Butler University President Jim Danko’s town hall meeting on Monday night, where about 20 students asked questions and voiced concerns to university administrators.

Danko, along with Vice Presidents Bruce Arick, Levester Johnson, Gerald  Carlson and Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Public Safety Ben Hunter, fielded questions from members of the Butler community.

Both Danko and Arick said growing Butler’s funding is one of their goals. Butler’s current endowment is about $150 million, and Arick said there is a goal of increasing it to $175 million by 2014.

Danko said he has hopes of doubling it under his tenure. A larger endowment, he said, would be more prone to market change but would allow for more continuity year to year.

“I’ve never been at an institution so tuition-dependent,” Danko said. “It’s like we’re waiting to hear whether or not that last student is coming so we can decide what we can do.”

Arick said it could be grown through new gifts, and more money would give the university more flexibility and  the ability to do more.

“I’ve never talked to a CFO who said their endowment is too big,” he said.

Danko said that only about 25 percent of living alumni give back to the university.

Danko is embarking on a national tour to connect with alumni and promote the university.

Senior Nathan Krout asked about students’ role in building an alumni network, which would contribute to that money. Danko said relationships are important, and students are a source of building them.

“It’s one thing for me to reach out, but it’s a whole other level when a student does,” he said.

With a growing budget comes the idea of a growing size.

Prompted by a question from sophomore Nathan Holden about the breadth of academic curriculum offered, Danko said that while a smaller size allows closer community and interactions, it does limit course offerings and areas because of a smaller faculty size.

He said there’s not a clear desire for the size of the campus, and it will be an item on the next Board of Trustee’s meeting.

“We really have to settle on this vision of the university,” Danko said.

Krout asked about renovations, and Johnson said residence hall improvement would be a component of them.

“It’s not just about building new places but also about maintaining what we have,” Johnson said.

The town hall was a part of Danko’s attempt to find new ways to interact with students in a variety of different venues. He has posted three dates of office hours for speaking to different classes and faculty. He said they will help him to better understand the needs of the university.

“While I may not have all the answers, we’ll at least begin to know some of the answers,” he said.

The Collegian was unable to reach administrators from university advancement or alumni and parent programs by press
time.

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