University President James Danko highlighted progress made and progress yet to be made in his State of the University address this morning.
He discussed issues such as sexual assault, Butler’s move to the Big East, new facilities and construction on campus, changes in administrative positions and also addressed an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Danko spoke to faculty, staff and Butler community members in the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts today at 11 a.m.
Board of Trustees Vice President Jay Sandhu introduced Danko and spoke of changes made during Danko’s tenure. He said “even as an applicant for the president position, (Danko) was very vocal about his vision for change at Butler.”
Danko welcomed new staff and faculty members to campus at the beginning of his speech. Later, he confirmed that Butler will hire a new Vice President of Enrollment and Vice President of Advancement.
Danko addressed what he considered to be highlights for the 2013-2014 school year, including the graduation of 1,050 students, increased online classes and online learning options, the Desmond Tutu Center, the Butler Advance Program, the death of live mascot Butler Blue II and Butler’s first year in the Big East athletic conference.
Regarding the move to the Big East, Danko said “it was a challenge athletically,” but that Butler “remained very competitive academically” within the conference.
The president announced the creation of a commission on sexual assault at the end of last school year. He referred to the issue of sexual assault on campus as “a very complex issue” that he takes seriously.
“Any issue that threatens the safety and the security of students on this campus, we need to get on top of it,” Danko said. “This is not about sides. It’s about students.”
Provost Kathryn Morris will head the commission, made up of students, faculty and staff. Danko said the commission met two or three times over the summer, but some members were not present on campus over the summer.
However, Chief of Staff Ben Hunter and General Counsel Claire Aigotti met with legislators at the state and federal levels to discuss higher education laws concerning sexual assault.
Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson will meet with new students on Monday to discuss sexual assault prevention.
Danko said that he believes “students also need take their own responsibility” and “protect each other.”
“We can’t be in every building and every housing complex at all times,” he said.
Danko then addressed what he called “the turkey in the room,” an interview he did with the Chronicle of Higher Education. He said he felt the interview was not reflective of his respect for his colleagues and that he “cringed” when he read the story.
He then addressed changes made to campus to fulfill the 20/20 vision, including the streetscape project and new student housing and parking garage. He then played a 3-dimensional video meant to illustrate a driving tour of Butler’s future campus set to a song from the soundtrack of Top Gun.
“If we are going to invest in ideas and we are going to invest in facilities we also have to invest in people,” Danko said to close the address. “If we want this to be a great university we need everyone who works here to feel like they work at a great university.”