Dr. John Morton-Finney Diversity Scholar Award

For more than 30 years, Butler has been awarding the Dr. John Morton-Finney Diversity Scholar Award to students who have invested intentional time and energy in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in their schools or communities.

Born in 1889 to loving parents, including a formerly enslaved father, Dr. Morton-Finney was one of seven children in his Kentucky home.  His mother died when he was 14 years old, and his family moved to Missouri.

By the age of 22 he joined the US Army and served until 1914. He served honorably as a member of the Buffalo Soldiers, a black-only regiment.  Due to racism and discrimination, he was denied officer status even though he earned the rank of corporal and sergeant.  He also served in 1918 in France during WWI as an infantryman.  Dr. Morton-Finney married Pauline Angeline Ray, and in 1922, they moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. They later had one daughter, Gloria Ann Morton-Finney.

Throughout his life, Dr. Morton-Finney earned eleven academic degrees, five of those in law.  His first degree was in 1935, and the last degree was from Butler University in 1965.  He also was fluent in seven languages.

He was born on June 25, 1889, and passed away on January 28, 1998, at 108 years old.  His grave is in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, where his wife and daughter are also buried.

  • 1935:  Admitted as a member of the Bar of the Indiana Supreme Court
  • 1941:  Admitted as a member of the Bar of the US District Court
  • 1972:  Admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court
  • 1991:  Inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame
  • 1996 (he was 107):  Retired from practicing law, believed to have been the oldest practicing attorney in the US
I never stop studying. There’s always lots to learn. When you stop learning, that’s about the end of you.

– Dr. John Morton-Finney
Students in Butler spirt apparel celebrating 2022 Homecoming festivities.
Morton-Finney Diversity Scholars Program

A collection of action-oriented student leaders driving innovative equity throughout Butler University and its community.

Seek diverse experiences, Invest in community, and Reflect on your development.

Each Morton-Finney Diversity Scholar spends dedicated time throughout their Butler experience participating in on campus diversity, equity, and inclusion advancement. Scholars are also charged with investing in the well-being of the communities we occupy through service.

Scholars must meet program guidelines which include, but are not limited to: attendance at regular cohort meetings, submitting monthly journal reflections, participation in individual and/or group community engagement projects, and engagement in campus diversity, equity, and inclusion programming.

  • Morton-Finney Equity Leadership Team (MELT): Each cohort has student representatives that serve on this team to plan cohort meetings, social activities, community engagement opportunities, and support for scholars at large. The process to join includes an application, brief interview, and selection.
  • Cohort Meetings: This program requirement includes team building, leadership development, DEI workshops, opportunities to network, social engagement, community service, dialogues across difference, reflection, and much more!