President Danko’s Biography

James Danko became Butler’s 21st President in 2011. During his tenure, he has led a strategy to establish the University as a higher-education innovator through the pursuit of creative new programs and approaches; to advance Butler’s core mission as one that integrates a liberal-arts foundation with professional preparation; and to strengthen Butler’s founding principles of inclusivity, community engagement, and academic excellence.

A key part of Butler’s growing momentum is President Danko’s commitment to enriching the student experience through the transformation of campus—including academic, research, residential, performance, and athletic spaces. In summer 2019, the Lacy School of Business moved into its new 110,000 square-foot home. In 2021, the University completed phase one of its renovation and expansion for a new sciences complex. Additionally, Danko has led the University through its most successful fundraising years ever, highlighted by a $25 million gift from Andre and Julia Lacy to name the Lacy School. In March 2022, the University surpassed the $250 million goal of its Butler Beyond fundraising campaign.

In 2013, Danko successfully advocated for Butler’s membership in the BIG EAST Athletic Conference, positioning the University in the company of outstanding peers in both the classroom and athletic competition. He served as Chair of the BIG EAST Board of Directors from 2018–2020.

In 2016, he signed a historic campus-sharing agreement between Butler and its neighbor, Christian Theological Seminary (CTS), through which Butler acquired nearly 30 acres of land and buildings. This partnership has enabled Butler to expand, to establish a new home for its College of Education, and to bring renewed vibrancy to CTS and the surrounding community.

Interest in Butler is at an all-time high, with the number of applications increasing nearly 140 percent since 2009. In the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, Butler achieved the No. 1 spot among Midwest Regional Universities for the fifth consecutive year and was named the Most Innovative School among Midwest Regional Universities for the eighth consecutive year.

Butler’s 6-month placement rate for graduates is 99 percent, and in the highly respected Gallup-Purdue Index Survey, Butler outperformed its peers across most items in graduates’ assessment of their student experience—including faculty support and experiential learning, affinity for their alma mater, and overall well-being.

Prior to Butler, Danko served as Dean of the Villanova School of Business and as Associate Dean at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. During his Villanova tenure, financial gifts to the school increased nearly five-fold, enabling it to implement efforts including a new curriculum, a comprehensive student-services wing, and research centers focused on real estate, innovation, and analytics. In addition, the school moved from regional recognition to being ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek as No. 7 in the nation. He also served in leadership roles and taught entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Babson College, and the University of Michigan.

An innovator at heart and in experience, Danko was a successful entrepreneur in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, for nearly two decades before beginning his academic career. At age 19, he founded a medical equipment company, which he later expanded into a multi-location healthcare and fitness equipment provider.

Danko is an alumnus of St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland and John Carroll University, where he earned a degree in Religious Studies. He earned his MBA with highest honors from the University of Michigan. He holds a deep commitment to the Jesuit ideals of intellectual growth, social justice, and servant leadership.