Five Things You Need to Know about Butler University
Butler was chartered as North Western Christian University in 1850
by abolitionist Disciples of Christ members who wanted a university
away from the "pernicious influences of slavery."
Founded on the values of diversity, inclusivity, and equality,
NWCU opened in 1855 at 13th and College Avenue, admitting women and
people of color on an equal basis with white males, a radical
stance for the time.
The first woman to graduate from the full four-year program was
Demia Butler, daughter of founder Ovid Butler. She graduated in
Ovid Butler founded the Demia Butler Chair of English Literature
in 1869, the first endowed chair in the country for a female
professor. Catharine Merrill was its first recipient, and the
second full-time female professor in the country at any
Butler's first documented African American graduate was Gertrude
Amelia Mahorney, who graduated in 1887 on the school's second
campus in Irvington. There may have been earlier graduates of
color, but the school did not keep racial statistics for many
years. Mahorney taught in the Indianapolis Public Schools,
specializing in German.