In his inaugural address, says the Butler of the future will be more innovative, creative
Butler University will develop a $5 million innovation fund to nurture creative thinking and fast track ideas, curricula and collaboration, President James Danko announced during his Nov. 12 installation ceremony.
“If someone in our Butler community has a well-thought-out-idea, is willing to work toward the execution of that idea, and it makes sense for our students and our University, this fund will allow us to make it happen,” Danko said in announcing the Butler Innovation Fund.
Danko said as a University, Butler should first and foremost invest in ideas. “Creativity and innovation will be nurtured in Butler University’s culture, so that Butler can provide leading edge knowledge and be at the forefront. The Butler of the future will be more agile, responsive and innovative. We will be known nationwide for our progressive educational approach.”
Local foundations have already contributed to the fund, as have the president and his wife, Bethanie.
Danko said higher education will undergo serious changes in the next couple of decades.
“The public wants education that matters and is cost-effective, education that integrates the latest technology and cross-disciplinary knowledge so that graduates are prepared to enter meaningful careers and contribute to their communities,” he said.
Butler already has invested in numerous programs that are transforming both student learning and the University’s broader community, including:
- Butler education students and graduates teach in and run an Indianapolis Public School magnet elementary program known as the Lab School. Its Reggio Emilia-inspired curriculum emphasizes problem solving and incorporating the arts and sciences as forms of communicating, expressing ideas and demonstrating learning.
- In the College of Business’ Real Life, Real Business curriculum, students are developing and running their own business, managing investments for the Butler endowment and suggesting operational improvements for clients of the Butler Business Accelerator.
- The Butler Community Arts School provides free or low-cost music lessons to hundreds of kids in Indianapolis. Butler students training to be musicians and music educators serve as teaching fellows in the program.
- The Butler Community Outreach Pharmacy is an entirely student-run pharmacy for uninsured residents of an Indianapolis eastside neighborhood.
“These programs not only engage our students in societal issues, but in solving those issues,” Danko said. “We need more programs like them that demonstrate progressive ideas in education, and connect theory with practice.”
Danko’s innovative approach to education stems from his entrepreneurial background. He spent nearly two decades running a successful medical supply business before taking his entrepreneurial style to top business schools, most recently the Villanova School of Business. While there, he revamped the curriculum to achieve higher levels of excellence and national recognition, and encouraged more openness to change by recognizing and rewarding faculty creativity, as well as supporting research that strengthened teaching.
In addition to a culture that leverages creativity and innovation, Danko said he envisions a future Butler with:
- National prominence for its academic quality.
- State-of-the-art facilities, including new or upgraded science facilities and residence halls.
- Value-added student services that will contribute to a 100 percent placement rate for all graduates.
- A more diverse and engaged student body.
- A larger endowment that will allow the University to invest and recruit in top faculty and expand academic offerings.
“The time is right for Butler to try new things,” Danko said. “In affirming me as Butler’s 21st president, you have given me your ‘Yes’ to lead this University in achieving its greatest possibilities. Butler can – and will – realize what we imagine today.”
Danko was introduced at the 90-minute ceremony by his friend Ronald N. Langston, former director of the Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce, under President George W. Bush. U.S. Senator Dick Lugar offered a salutation.
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