Search for new VP of Student Affairs continues

Photo courtesy of Butler University.


Butler’s human resources department continues to go through the process of searching for a someone to replace Levester Johnson as vice president for student affairs.

The position includes overseeing all out-of-classroom student programing and providing leadership for numerous different areas of campus, such as Residence Life, Health Services, Recreation and Dining Services.

The four finalists for the position are Adam Peck from Austin State University, Leanna Fenneberg from St. Louis University, Phillip Riordan from Lynn University and Butler’s own Anne Flaherty.

The man who previously held the position at Butler, Levester Johnson, took a job as the new VP for student affairs at Illinois State University, leaving Butler after the 2015-16 school year. He first came to Butler in 1992 as assistant dean of students and served as the VP for student affairs since 1997. LJ, as he was affectionately known by students, was a personality around campus and a familiar face to students.

Lily Pickett, senior sociology and international studies major, said she remembers LJ’s friendliness with students across campus.

“He was constantly showing up places and was a live presence,” Pickett said, “I think what made him fantastic was that he always had time to have a conversation beyond just, ‘Hey how are you?’”

Tyrone Smoot is a senior marketing major who said he also remembers LJ for his student involvement.

“I always recall him doing the tweet treats and seeing him at Starbucks and events on campus with different colored ties,” Smoot said.

LJ was successful in connecting with students and used Twitter to let campus know what he was up to and when he would be buying them coffee at Starbucks. To Pickett, this is an important yet challenging aspect of the position that she hopes the future VP will be able to continue.

“Student engagement is a huge part of the job, and LJ did a good job of that, but I think it is tough to jump that generation gap, so having the energy and time to keep up with students is important,” Pickett said.

Since LJ’s departure, Flaherty served as the interim VP. She previously held the position of dean of student life.

Over this past week, the finalists for the VP for student affairs gave presentations discussing their views and goals for the position. Students, faculty and staff gathered in the Fairview Community Center to hear the candidates speak and ask questions.

Candidates could use their presentation to address any topics that they wished, and audiences asked a wide range of questions. The topics revealed their personal beliefs, focusing on precise planning and programs that could improve campus life.

James Gallaher, Butler’s VP of human resources, diversity and wellness for Butler University, is leading the search.

“The final decision should be made in the coming weeks, at least that is our goal,” Gallaher said. “The process could continue longer if candidates are closer in the running and need to be brought back for further interviewing.”

After the hiring decision is made, the change in position could happen almost immediately or at least before the start of next semester.

Gallaher said the new VP might not take office immediately. It could take longer if the candidate that is selected is not currently a Butler employee.

“Some candidates are currently at different schools and want to finish the school year there before transitioning,” Gallaher said.

Despite this, the position should be filled by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year.