Butler board of trustees raise $43 million for Butler Beyond campaign

Butler University’s board of trustees has raised $43 million. Photo by Sorell Grow.

FRANCIE WILSON | STAFF REPORTER | fwilson@butler.edu 

As of Feb. 28, current and former Board of Trustee members have committed over $43.7 million for a variety of different aspects of the Butler Beyond campaign, according to the Office of Advancement. A total of $181.9 million have been committed to the campaign since its quiet phase started in 2015.

Butler Beyond is Butler University’s new fundraising and strategic campaign. The fundraising campaign has a focus on three main categories: student access and success, innovations in teaching and learning, and community partnerships. 

The three categories are used as umbrella terms to cover a number of different donations made to the university, but also act as guiding principles throughout the campaign. 

According to the press release on Feb. 17, the $43 million committed by trustees went to 119 different areas. Each of the 119 different accounts have their own purposes for how the money will be used. The donations will go to a number of different priorities outlined by the Butler Beyond campaign, and each priority has its own fundraising goal. The largest goal is the $55 million goal toward student scholarships. 

A total of $43.2 million has already been committed to student scholarships, $14.3 million of which came from trustees. Butler Day of Giving took place from Feb. 27 to Feb. 28 and according to the Day of Giving website, $213,338 was raised for scholarship from 254 gifts. 

Jonathan Purvis, vice president for university advancement, said last year the university provided about $77 million in scholarships. Of that $77 million, $3.5 to $4 million came from donors. The rest of the money that goes towards student aid comes from the university budget. 

He also said student scholarship has the largest goal of the campaign for a reason, even though it might be hard to see its immediate impacts. 

The Butler Beyond campaign has priorities that extend beyond student life. In an email to The Butler Collegian, Purvis said the faculty support fund is the newest priority as of last October, when the campaign was publicly launched. 

The newest priority has received $2.4 million from all donors so far, but has yet to receive monetary support from the trustees. 

There are a number of other goals and priorities in the Butler Beyond campaign including: 

Athletic Capital Improvement: goal of $10.5 million 

  • Total committed: $10.57 million
  • Trustees committed: $2.5 million

Lacy School of Business Building: goal of $42 million 

  • Total committed: $21.9 million
  • Trustees committed: $7.7 million

Sciences Expansion and Renovation: goal of $42 million

  • Total committed: $29.3 million
  • Trustees committed: $3.2 million

Operating Support: goal of $40 million 

  • Total committed: $33 million
  • Trustees committed: $8.9 million

Programmatic Support: goal of $40.5 million 

  • Total committed: $41.1 million 
  • Trustees committed: $6.8 million  

The Butler Beyond campaign had its public launch on Oct. 5, 2019 in an event at Clowes Hall. The Butler Beyond campaign began with a quiet fundraising phase, before the campaign was officially announced, which started June 1, 2015. 

The beginning of the quiet phase marked the beginning of the donation total, and all commitments made from June 2015 until today have counted towards the campaign goal of raising $250 million. 

Since its quiet phase, a number of the donations have already been allocated to different projects at the university. This means that some students have already benefited from money that was donated to scholarships earlier in the campaign. 

Betsy Weatherly, senior executive director for advancement and campaigns, worked on the a prior comprehensive campaign, Butler Rising, which launched in late 2003 and concluded in 2010. Weatherly said that the goal for Butler Beyond is double the goal of the last comprehensive campaign, which was $125 million. 

“I think that it just shows how Butler has gone from being a regional university to a nationally recognized university,” Weatherly said. “We’re competing on the national stage for students and faculty members.”

Each donor has the ability to dictate where they would like their money to go. Purvis said his job is to work with donors to decide where their gift will go, while also balancing the needs of the university.

“We want to help understand what the donor’s passion is,” Purvis said. “We know what our priorities are, and then we work to hopefully match them together.” 

Not all donors make their donations immediately. Almost $14 million of the $43 million comes from unrestricted estate commitments, which means current and former members of the Board of Trustees have pledged in their wills to give a certain amount of money to Butler after their death. Since these estate commitments are unrestricted, it means that the university can use the money wherever they see fit. 

“It’s a process that evolves and it absolutely enhances the institution,” Purvis said. “It will absolutely make the university more accessible to students and continue to evolve our quality, but it just can’t all happen today because of the nature of the way donors are able to make their gifts.”

Even though student scholarship funding is one of the main focuses of the Butler Beyond campaign, Purvis said fundraising alone is not the answer. 

“We have to stay true to our founding mission,” Purvis said. “Which is to provide the highest quality of education to learners regardless of circumstance. It’s what we call a founding mission and we’re really committed to that.”

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