New VP of advancement takes post

Being at Butler University is nothing recently-named for the new interim vice president of advancement, but her new position will allow her to use her passion for the Bulldogs in moving the university forward.

Shari Alexander Richey started in the Office of Advancement on Oct. 1. She was appointed to the position by President Jim Danko.

Richey is replacing Mark Helmus, who was the vice president of advancement for nine years.

“One of the advantages of Shari is that she’s extraordinarily well connected in this area,” Danko said.

Danko said people were excited because they knew Richey through her involvement in the community.

Richey was a member of the Butler Board of Trustees for nine years and worked for Ernst & Young for more than 20 years. She also has experience in volunteer sectors of the community.

“I think what you saw in the prior leader and, hopefully, what you’ll see in me is just a passion for the university,” Richey said. “My involvement has fueled my passion, and I think passion is a critical element in addition to leadership that you have to have to be in charge of a place like advancement.”

Richey said that through her previous work at Butler and as an alumna herself, she does not have the normal transition period that someone unfamiliar with the university would have.

“I don’t feel like I’m starting cold at all,” she said. “I feel like I’m stepping into a new role, but the relationships I’ve built over the last 10 years are relevant and incredibly beneficial.”

Danko said his goal for Richey is that she assess where the university is as far as resources and current needs to see what she’s dealing with.

“She’s got a pretty complex job,” Danko said. “She’s kind of an extension of the university and the president in a lot of ways, in terms of making connections with people.”

Along with checking on things internally, Danko said his other goal for Richey is to reach out to the external community to let them know her new position here at Butler. That way, she can share the university’s vision.

Danko said he and Richey will be working closely together.

Michele Miller, executive director of constituent services, said she thinks Richey’s business experience will be an asset to the office.

“Shari is a fantastic business leader,” Miller said. “She is known as a collaborator and is known for her great network in the central Indiana business community.”

Collaboration is a word Miller uses to describe the role of the Office of Advancement. She said the office spends a lot of time collaborating and building relationships with alumni, businesses and the community to get people interested in donating to Butler to move the university forward.

“Richey is really going to bring a business side to our area that we’re looking forward to,” Miller said.

For now, Richey said she is focusing on getting things settled in her office.

“I’m acutely focused on understanding how we’re organized and also trying to align the needs of the university with the department talent that we have,” she said.

Richey will be meeting with all of the key leaders in the university to help articulate exactly what the priorities are for those specific areas.

“It’s all about advancing the cause, and that’s going to take a fair amount of money,” Richey said.

Richey said her long-term goals are tied to the university’s Shared Strategic Vision. Some of those goals include increasing the endowment to $750 million and reducing tuition dependence from 87 percent to 75 percent by 2025.

But, Richey said, money is only one of the aspects that fall under the term advancement at Butler.

“We need to further and better and strengthen our ties with the alumni and friends of the university,” she said. “It’s not just a calculation on paper to determine how we need to get to the right endowment level. It involves much more.”

Richey said that, from her work as a trustee, she has learned that Butler is trying to listen to all the different ties of Butler to see what the next level should be.

“We want Butler to be an even more incredible place to learn,” she said, “an even more incredible place to develop and grow the next generation of citizens who are here to learn, but also to do the community service and to make themselves incredible human beings for all of humanity to enjoy, exploit and prosper from.”