office of the President

State of the University Address

In his annual State of the University address on August 22, 2014, President James M. Danko reinforced the University's commitment to the Butler 2020 Vision and outlined key priorities for 2014-2015, including student safety and security, construction of new parking and housing facilities, and investment in professional development for Butler's faculty and staff.

President Danko shared highlights from the past year, including the announcement of the Desmond Tutu Center, the receipt of major grants from Lilly Endowment and the National Science Foundation, the successful completion of the Hinkle Campaign, and strong financial results for the University. He also welcomed new faculty and staff to the University, applauded Butler's Enrollment Management team for enrolling a vibrant incoming class, and said that important national searches for Vice Presidents of Advancement and Enrollment Management are underway and scheduled for completion later this year.

Danko thanked the Butler community for their engagement in the University's two-year strategic development process, which culminated last year with the introduction of the Butler 2020 Vision to be an innovative leader in the creation and delivery of transformative student-centered learning experiences that prepare graduates to make a meaningful impact in the world.

While 2020 may seem distant, President Danko emphasized that the realization of our vision will require us to make focused, meaningful progress each and every year. "Success will require commitment from the entire Butler community," Danko said. "It's challenging work and challenging times, but we're really confident, given the greatness of this University, that we're going to succeed." With that in mind, he highlighted key priorities for the University in 2014-2015, which in turn support the University's academic mission and Butler 2020 Vision.

Student Safety and Security

"The most important priority for Butler is the safety and security of our students," President Danko said. "The issue of sexual violence has reached a crisis point at universities across the nation, and Butler is no exception."  President Danko previously announced plans for a Presidential Commission on Sexual Assault near the end of the 2013-2014 academic year and asked Provost Morris to lead the effort, which will center on assessment, education, and prevention.

Though the final charge and composition of the Commission are still being determined, substantive progress has been made on several fronts during the summer months. He specifically highlighted an expansion of student programming focused on education and prevention, proactive work with government stakeholders and peer institutions, and significant work to improve Butler's sexual assault policies, procedures, and enforcement efforts.

President Danko also emphasized the important role that students themselves must play in caring for one another. He further underscored this idea at last weekend's Convocation Ceremony, where he asked all first-year Butler students to take a pledge to make healthy, smart decisions and to help their classmates stay safe throughout their college career. "We will do everything we can to keep you safe," said Danko, "but it is ultimately up to you, as independent young adults, to make the right decisions for yourselves and those around you."

Campus Living and Learning Environment

President Danko provided a detailed update on short- and long-term efforts to improve Butler's living and learning environment, highlighting ongoing renovations to Hinkle Fieldhouse, which will be complete in time for basketball season, and the Sunset Avenue Streetscape Project, which is progressing rapidly and will conclude next spring.
He also provided an exciting overview of the multi-use parking and student housing projects that will bring 1,000 structured parking spaces, world-class accommodations for more than 600 students, and new retail and community space to Butler's campus over the next two years. Construction will begin in September on the parking garage and next spring on the student housing, with the facilities opening in the fall of 2015 and 2016, respectively. More details on construction timing and impact are available online and will be posted in The Connection.

Danko shared the importance of these capital projects to advancing Butler's reputation in an increasingly competitive higher education landscape, and shared his excitement about the foundation they provide for future academic developments, including a planned renovation and expansion focused on the sciences and a potential new academic building to house the College of Business, among others.

Leadership and Professional Development

President Danko also emphasized the importance of investing in Butler's people-the faculty, staff, and administrative leaders who deliver upon the academic mission each and every day. He shared the results and impact of a leadership initiative recently completed by Butler's deans and vice presidents, and shared plans to expand this and other professional development initiatives in the year to come. "Realizing Butler's vision and potential will be an incredible challenge, and we must have people in place that are able to get us there," he said. "We're the stewards of this University. We need to leave it a better place."

The Path Forward

With so many important opportunities and exciting activity on campus, President Danko shared a plan to shift the State of the University away from being a "moment in time" each year, instead seeking to engage the Butler community throughout the year in a series of leadership presentations and discussions focused on the Butler 2020 Vision, its strategic platforms, and our key priorities for 2014-2015.

"The participation and input of the entire Butler community has been critical to establishing the Butler 2020 Vision and identifying key priorities for the coming year," said Danko. "Your continued engagement will be just as important as we bring these initiatives to life in the coming months and years." 

President Danko's full address can be seen below.