Butler University unveils its plan for the next 10 years. Photo courtesy of butler.edu
JESSICA LEE | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Oct. 5, Butler University will launch their vision for the next 10 years, Butler Beyond.
There are three main campaign pillars to Butler Beyond. The first pillar focuses on student access and success. The second pillar is about innovations in teaching and learning, which includes making sure faculty is equipped with everything they need. The third pillar looks at how Butler can invest in community partnerships.
The event starts at 7:30 p.m. in Clowes Memorial Hall and will be followed by a dessert reception outside. The launch is free and open to the public.
Jonathan Purvis, vice president of advancement, said the purpose of this event is twofold: one, to celebrate where Butler is today, and two, reveal the plans for the future that will address challenges facing higher education.
“This will really be a spectacular production,” Purvis said. “We’ve been telling anybody, even if you are tangentially related to Butler, just the entertainment value of this will be high, professionally produced.”
Those expected to be in attendance, Purvis said, are Butler “faithfuls,” members of the trustee board, alumni and others who may already know a bit about the vision. He hopes the night is celebratory and inspirational for them.
Purvis said this will also be an opportunity for those not as connected with Butler to see what is so special about the university.
As of last Friday, 1,200 people have made reservations to attend the launch, filling more than half of Clowes’ 2,123 seats.
“You really want the world to know — we’re going big, we’re going public, and you want to make a big deal of it,” Butler President James Danko said.
Students are also invited, and encouraged, to attend.
Danko said students may just be thinking of the free dessert, but they should also consider that it will be a “heck of a network opportunity.”
“I can’t imagine of too many events on campus that will draw the size, stature or the crowd such as this one,” Danko said.
The event will also count as a Butler Cultural Requirement, which students need eight of to graduate.
“I’m hoping [attendees] take away a great pride in terms of why we believe it’s deserving of credit for students to be in attendendance,” Danko said. “Because there’s a bit of a history lesson in it, there is a celebration of what Bulter is and how it’s impacted not only this region but across the world for that matter.”
SGA president Sam Varie is also an intern for the campaign. As an intern, he is in charge of volunteer outreach and engagement, as well as student engagement. As student body president, he serves as an ambassador for the vision and event, educating students on what the vision is and how to be a part of it.\
Varie said this historic night aligns with the BCR values.
“A big part of the evening too, is talking about access to education and how are we creating an equitable environment, and that’s at the root of what a Butler Cultural Requirement stands for,” Varie said.
Katie Keller, a senior health sciences major, has been involved in planning this event as Butler University Student Foundation president. She believes students should attend the event to learn and understand how the university will grow.
Both Varie and Keller acknowledged that current students, seniors and juniors in particular, may not benefit from this strategic vision immediately. However, both seniors said that as this is a plan for Butler’s future, it will also impact students’ futures.
“You should come to this, because this is for you,” Keller said.
Varie said with strategic visions like Butler Beyond, there will be continued value in saying, “we went to Butler and we’re Butler alum.”
“That’s a gift to us and the value on the investment we made,” Varie said. “It’s not about seniors or juniors, or whatever year you are, not seeing necessarily the fruit of the strategic plan, but allowing us to have greater value down the road and allowing future students to having a better experience on our campus.”
There will be a portion of the night dedicated to philanthropy efforts: announcing the fundraising goal of the campaign how much Butler has already raised toward that goal, and how those in the audience can donate and what specifically for.
That portion of the night, though, is not for students, Keller said. They’re not asking students to donate.
“They know we’re paying for tuition right now,” Keller said, stressing that students should attend to see how alumni are contributing to the growth of Butler, and how it does and will affect them.
An email was sent to the student body on Sept. 10 inviting them to the event, however many students still do not know about the launch.
Kat Davis and Heidi Reuter, both first-year biology majors, have not heard about the event.
Reuter said they’ll be on campus for at least four years of the campaign, but she knows it’s also about having a legacy.
“Education lifts up everything in our society,” Reuter said when told about the first pillar of the campaign.
The first pillar of the campaign — student access and success — deals with scholarship funds for students.
“Right now, it’s known for being hella expensive,” Davis said of Butler’s reputation.
Danko said they have made scholarship support a priority because they are concerned about the rising cost of education and are sensitive to student loans.
About 80 to 90 percent of Butler students receive some form of financial aid.
Josephine Thestrup, a senior biochemistry major, said she probably wouldn’t be here without the help of scholarship funds.
Thestrup thought they raised tuition because of Butler 2020, the current campaign, so she’s glad to hear that they’re making Butler more affordable.
Thestrup didn’t know about the vision or the launch event. But when told a bit about Butler Beyond, she said the plan sounds idealistic.
Despite the fact that campus is going to change, Thestrup said, she thinks and hopes she would still be able to see herself at Butler 10 years from now.
“There might be more diversity because it’ll be available for more people,” Thestrup said.
The accessibility part of the campaign comes from Butler’s founding mission: everyone deserves an education.
“There’s recognition of what Butler’s mission was and how we try to live that in our lives,” Danko said. “Are we perfect? Absolutely not. However, I always look at these events as a key opportunity to remind people of those things.”
Danko wants the audience to be energized and excited for the future, but to also understand that Butler needs their help.
“The money is going toward recognizing that the Butler education for the many, many years has been a powerful education, and we want that to continue and we want more, more people to be able to obtain that,” Danko said. “And that’s our mission.”
Founder Ovid Butler was an abolitionist who believed education should be accessible to all, regardless of race or gender. Today, that mission also means providing education regardless of sexual orientation, disabilities, religion and socio-economic status.