A peek inside the president’s house

Bulldogs everywhere.

It is like the game “I Spy” when it comes to finding all the bulldogs located in Butler University President Jim Danko’s house. A bulldog poster, salt shaker, wine stopper and multiple bulldog statues can be seen scattered throughout the rooms.

Butler’s mascot is a staple in the Danko’s decorations as much as the Danko’s house has become a staple on Buler’s campus.

The president and his wife Bethanie currently live in the Carter House at the corner of Sunset Avenue and Blue Ridge Road.

Butler’s previous president, Bobby Fong, was the first president to live in the house when he moved into the house in 2001.  When Fong left for Ursinus College in 2011, the Dankos moved in.

The Dankos have lived there for the past year.

It is a Cotswold Cottage style home and was built in 1932. Butler acquired it in 1974.

“We didn’t even consider not living on campus,” Bethanie Danko said. “When we are on campus and this close to everyone, we are accessible to our whole community. We are right here. We know what is going on.”

Bethanie Danko said each room has its different purposes.

The foyer invites people inside, with rays of light splashing off an outdoorsy painting which hangs above two plants and sunflowers.

The stairs to the second floor sit directly to the left, and an arched door frame leads into the front room on the right.

The front room provides two sitting areas, each with its own coffee table and a frontal view of the fireplace.

Personal paintings decorate the room—one of which was painted by Mrs. Danko’s brother and another painting President Danko received from a priest during his time at Villanova University.

The sun room connects the front room to the living room, creating more sitting space. The windows to the backyard reflect a stone wall, a reminder that this room used to be the garage in the 1970s and 80s.

The living room seats about 15 to 20 people, at least. The big couches, multiple reclining chairs and double-door entrance to the patio present a less formal environment for bigger student groups.

The patio offers an outdoor option for student get-togethers, with a sleek wooden table surrounded by a wooden fence.

The kitchen centers around a granite-topped island where a tin bulldog is displayed. Amish-style paintings from Lancaster, Penn., cover the back wall, while a miniature black stove sits the counter as a memento from Mrs. Danko’s 11 years living in a log cabin.

The dining room fulfills the need for a formal dinner table that any president’s house would require.

A vintage bathroom completes the first floor layout.

“We have decorated the house to deliberately feel relaxing and not to make it feel too formal,” Mrs. Danko explained.

The Dankos changed very little structurally when they came. They repainted the walls a lighter color and added their own furniture and paintings.

“This house is really a work space,” Bethanie Danko said. “We entertain donors here, we have students here, we have other friends of Butler here and even Coach Stevens has been here. This is really their home, so we feel like this is a very important part of our job.”

Student gatherings are a staple in the Danko house.

“The reason that we wanted to live on campus is because we love students and we want to spend time with them and understand how their Butler experiences are going,” Bethanie Danko said.

Twitter is the most common form of invitation for these gatherings.

“We want to be accessible to students for any number of situations, even if only to tweet out an invitation to come by for a study break or Halloween treat,” Jim Danko said via email.

When the Dankos bought new tables for their patio over the summer, they hosted a cook-out for Butler students.

Last week, when author Margaret Atwood came for the Visiting Writers Series, students visited with her over dinner in the living room.

Jim Danko tweeted after the Atwood lecture, “Great gathering at @ButlerPrez home with @MargaretAtwood with @butleru students & faculty.”

“I do also think it is a less formal way to get to know Jim as your university president when you are here in our home and you are having dinner with us,” Bethanie Danko said.

Their priority is accessibility, both she and her husband said.

Junior Callie Dennison said the house was convenient to stop by for a scavenger hunt she was a part of.

Her goal was to go around to houses and trade a small item for something bigger and better at each house.

She had an old toaster when she arrived at the Dankos’ house.

“Mrs. Danko was really welcoming and generous, and wouldn’t let us leave until she gave us the best thing she could get, which ended up being a hardback Butler history book,” Dennison said.

Yes, definitely better than a toaster.


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