Butler University
Former names
North-Western Christian University (1855–1877)
Butler College (1896–1906)
MottoEducation, Research, Service
TypePrivate university
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
Academic affiliations
Council of Independent Colleges
Endowment$212 million (2020)[1]
PresidentJames Danko
ProvostBrooke Barnett
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

39°50′22″N 86°10′17″W / 39.83944°N 86.17139°W / 39.83944; -86.17139
CampusUrban: 295 acres (119 ha)[2]
ColorsBlue and white[3]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I Big East, Pioneer League (football)
MascotBlue IV "Blue"

Butler University is a private university in Indianapolis, Indiana. Founded in 1855 and named after founder Ovid Butler, the university has over 60 major academic fields of study in six colleges: the Lacy School of Business, College of Communication, College of Education, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and Jordan College of the Arts. Its 295-acre (119 ha) campus is approximately five miles (8.0 km) from downtown Indianapolis.


Illustrations depicting buildings on the school's Irvington campus in 1896

On January 15, 1850, the Indiana General Assembly adopted Ovid Butler's proposed charter for a new Christian university in Indianapolis. After five years in development, the school opened on November 1, 1855, as North-Western Christian University at 13th Street and College Avenue on Indianapolis's near northside at the eastern edge of the present-day Old Northside Historic District. Attorney and university founder Ovid Butler provided the property.[4][5][6] The university was founded by members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), although it was never controlled by that church. The university's charter called for "a non-sectarian institution free from the taint of slavery, offering instruction in every branch of liberal and professional education".[4] The university was the second in Indiana and the third in the United States to admit both men and women.[4]

The university established the first professorship in English literature and the first Department of English in the state of Indiana. In 1869, Ovid Butler endowed the Demia Butler Chair of English Literature in honor of his daughter, who was the first woman to graduate from the Classical course at the university and had died in 1867. The chair was the first endowed position at an American university designated for a female professor.[4][7] Catharine Merrill, was the first to occupy the chair in 1869. Merrill was just the second female university professor in the country.[8] Today the Demia Butler Chair of English Literature is occupied by Susan Neville.

The university moved to a new site in the community of Irvington, on the east side of Indianapolis, in 1875, and changed its name to Butler University in 1877.[9][10]

In 1896, Butler joined with two private professional schools, the Medical College of Indiana and the Indiana Law School, to form the University of Indianapolis (U of I), an institution unrelated to the modern university of that name.[11] The Indiana Dental College later joined in 1904. Renamed as Butler College, the school constituted the undergraduate and liberal arts organ of the new university.[12] Butler left U of I in 1906 after the Medical College of Indiana joined with Purdue University's medical school in 1905 (itself later merging with the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1908).

In 1930, Butler merged with the Teachers College of Indianapolis, founded by Eliza Cooper Blaker, creating the university's second college. The third college, the College of Business Administration, was established in 1937, and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences was established in 1945, following a merger that absorbed the Indianapolis College of Pharmacy. The Jordan College of Fine Arts, the university's fifth college, was established in 1951, following a merger with the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music.

The university's department of religion became a separate Christian Church seminary and "college of applied Christianity" in 1924; it was variously called the School of Religion and the College of Religion.[13] The school became independent in 1958 and is currently known as the Christian Theological Seminary.[5]


Irvington campus

Bona Thompson Memorial Library, the only remaining building from Butler's Irvington campus.

The original location of the school was 13th Street and College Avenue on the near-northside of Indianapolis.[6] In 1875, the university was renamed for Ovid Butler "in recognition of Ovid Butler's inspirational vision, determined leadership, and financial support" and moved to a 25-acre (10 ha) campus in Irvington, which at the time was an independent suburb of Indianapolis. The campus consisted of several buildings, including an observatory, most of which were demolished in 1939. The Bona Thompson Library at the intersection of Downey and University avenues, designed by architects Henry H. Dupont and Jesse T. Johnson, is the only remaining building, although several buildings that housed faculty remain, including the Benton House.[4][5]

Fairview campus

Aerial of Butler University campus in 2016

Enrollment at Butler increased following the end of World War I, prompting the administration to examine the need for a larger campus. The new and current campus, designed in part by architect George Sheridan, was formed on the site of Fairview Park, a former amusement park on the city's northwest side.[4][5] Classes began on the campus in 1928.[2]


Arthur Jordan Memorial Hall, completed in 1928

The first building on the Fairview campus was Arthur Jordan Memorial Hall, designed by Robert Frost Daggett and Thomas Hibben. The structure's Collegiate Gothic style of architecture, also used in the original William Tinsley-designed 13th Street and College Avenue building, set the tone for subsequent buildings erected on the campus over the next three decades.[4][5] Also, in 1928, the Butler Fieldhouse (later renamed Hinkle Fieldhouse) was completed after being designed by architect Fermor Spencer Cannon. The building remained the largest indoor sports facility in the state until the mid-1960s. The Religion Building and Sweeney Chapel were completed in 1942. These structures, designed by Burns and James, were remodeled into Robertson Hall in 1966.[4][5]

Following World War II, construction began on the student center, Atherton Union (designed by McGuire and Shook). McGuire and Shook also designed the dormitories called Ross Hall and Schwitzer Hall. Art Lindbergh, with help from Daggett, designed the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium, which was dedicated in 1955.[4][5]

Minoru Yamasaki's Irwin Library in snow

Acclaimed architect Minoru Yamasaki designed Irwin Library, which opened in 1963. Also, in the early 1960s, Lilly Hall and Clowes Memorial Hall were constructed following the move of the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music to the campus. Clowes Hall, which opened in 1963, was co-designed by Indianapolis architect Evans Woollen III and John M. Johansen (of New Canaan, Connecticut). Ten years following the construction of Clowes Hall and Irwin Library, the science complex of Gallahue Hall and the Holcomb Research Institute (now Holcomb Building) were built, completing the U-shaped complex of academic buildings.[4][5][14]

The Residential College, designed by James and Associates and completed in 1990, was the university's last major construction project of the twentieth century.[4][5] In 2001, the Fairbanks Center for Communication and Technology was opened. Early 2004 saw the addition of the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall onto Robertson Hall; it seats 140.[15]

On May 8, 2008, Butler broke ground on a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2), four-story addition to the Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building.[16] In 2013, the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts opened.


Academic rankings
Washington Monthly[17]163
U.S. News & World Report[18]1
WSJ / College Pulse[20]165

Over 60 major academic fields of study, 8 pre-professional programs, and 19 graduate programs are offered in six academic colleges: Arts, Business, Communication, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Butler ranks 1st for Midwest Regional Universities in U.S. News & World Report's 2024 Best Colleges. The publication also ranked the University 1st in the Midwest for both Innovation and Undergraduate Teaching. Nationally, the publication ranked Butler at No. 16 for First-Year Experiences and No. 28 for Study Abroad Opportunities. The university emphasizes the practicality of knowledge and offers individual attention to its students with its small class size and no teaching assistants. Butler University increased its focus on faculty and student research with the Butler Institute for Research and Scholarship (BIRS), bolstered by a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment.[21] The university also provides student research opportunities, such as the Butler Summer Institute, a 10-week program in which Butler students are granted funding to perform independent research with a faculty member.[22]

The university is organized into the following schools and colleges:


Main article: Butler Bulldogs

Butler's athletic teams, known as the Bulldogs, compete in Division I of the NCAA. On July 1, 2012, the Bulldogs left the Horizon League, their conference home since 1979, for the Atlantic 10 Conference.[23][24] Since the A-10 does not sponsor football, the Butler football team plays in the FCS's Pioneer League. The women's golf team at Butler joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, as the A-10 sponsors the sport only for men. Butler left the Atlantic 10 Conference and became a founding member of the reconfigured Big East Conference on July 1, 2013.[25][26]

In the past decade, Butler teams have captured 26 conference championships (in four different leagues). The Bulldogs have made appearances in NCAA National Championship Tournaments in men's and women's basketball, men's soccer, volleyball, men's cross country, lacrosse, and baseball. Butler won the James J. McCafferty trophy, awarded annually by the Horizon League for all-sports excellence based on conference championship points, seven times, including three-straight from 1996–97 to 1998–99 and back-to-back years in 2001–02 and 2002–03, 2006–07, and 2009–10.[27]

Men's basketball

Former Butler head coach Brad Stevens, seen here speaking with A.J. Graves, led his teams to two NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship games in his six seasons as head coach (2007–2013).

Main article: Butler Bulldogs men's basketball

The Butler program was one of the most successful "mid-major" basketball programs from 2000 to 2011, having won at least 20 games and reached postseason play eight of the last ten seasons, including six NCAA tournament appearances.[28] Butler also holds two national championships in men's basketball from the pre-tournament era: one from 1924 (earned via the AAU national tournament), and one from 1929 (selected by the Veteran Athletes of Philadelphia).[29]

In 2010 and 2011, Butler qualified for consecutive national championship games. The 2010 Butler team, led by star player Gordon Hayward, advanced to the national championship game where they lost a close game to Duke. With a total enrollment of only 4,500 students, Butler is the smallest school to play for a national championship since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. In 2011, the Bulldogs advanced to the championship game but finished as runners-up again, this time losing to Connecticut.

Butler has the best winning percentage and most wins of all Division I men's basketball programs in the state of Indiana over the last decade (21.6 wins per year through 2006). Until the 2015 Round of 32 loss in overtime to the Irish, Butler had won the previous six meetings with in-state rival Notre Dame and two of the last four against Indiana.[30][31] Butler defeated both Notre Dame and Indiana during 2006–07 regular season, while also defeating in-state rival Purdue to move to 2–0 against the Boilermakers this decade. Butler has also been the defending champion of the Hoosier Classic men's basketball tournament since the 2001–02 season,[32][33] and has advanced to postseason play nine of the last eleven years (7 NCAAs, 2 NITs). Butler has been to 15 NCAA Tournaments and three NITs since 1997.


Main article: Butler Bulldogs football

Hoosier Helmet Trophy

The Hoosier Helmet Trophy was established as the trophy helmet for the rivalry football game played between Butler and Valparaiso University. The Hoosier Helmet was created prior to the 2006 season to commemorate the football rivalry that has existed since 1921. The helmet trophy was created to further intensify the rivalry between these two teams. A group of Butler players, along with their head coach, Jeff Voris, came up with the idea. After Valparaiso head coach Stacey Adams agreed to play for the helmet, Butler equipment manager John Harding put the trophy together.

Student life

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[34] Total
White 83% 83
Hispanic 6% 6
Black 4% 4
Other[a] 4% 4
Asian 3% 3
Foreign national 1% 1
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 14% 14
Affluent[c] 86% 86

Students at Butler University participate in more than 150 student organizations and dozens of club and intramural sports, and many multi-cultural programs and services. More than 94 percent of students are involved in campus activities.[35]

Greek organizations

Greek life is a popular option at Butler with over 35 percent of undergraduates becoming members of social fraternities or sororities.[35] Fraternities and sororities have long been a part of student life at Butler, with the first fraternity established in 1859, and the first sorority established in 1874.[36]

National Panhellenic Council chapters

On Sunday, November 12, 1922, the Alpha chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho was founded at Butler University by a mix of undergraduate and graduate students. The sorority had its beginnings on the original Irvington campus of Butler University. While most NPHC undergraduate chapters have citywide memberships with students from other universities, the Alpha chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho only for Butler students.[37]

Notable people


This section should include a summary of List of Butler University alumni. See Wikipedia:Summary style for information on how to incorporate it into this article's main text. (September 2023)

Main article: List of Butler University alumni

Faculty and staff

See also


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c At a Glance Archived March 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, (Butler University), retrieved March 16, 2010
  3. ^ "Color Palette". Retrieved October 14, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Butler University" in Bodenhamer, David J., and Barrows, Robert G., eds. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. pp. 372–74. ISBN 0-253-31222-1. ((cite book)): |author= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Butler University Architecture" in Bodenhamer and Barrows, eds., The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, pp. 374–75.
  6. ^ a b About Butler University[permanent dead link], (Butler University), retrieved April 5, 2010.
  7. ^ As of 2015 the chair has been held been twice by male professors: William Howe (1904–05) and John Samuel Kenyon (1906–13). See "The Demia Butler Chair of English Literature" (PDF). Butler University Endowed Chairs and Professorships. Butler University. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 13, 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Merrill began her fourteen-year teaching career at the school in its 1869–70 academic year and resigned the professorship in 1883. See: Burriss, Natalie (Spring 2014). "Quite Progressive: The Life and Accomplishments of Catharine Merrill, 1824–1900". Connections: The Hoosier Geneolgist. 54 (1). Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society: 52–53. See also: Linda C. Gugin and James E. St. Clair, ed. (2015). Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-87195-387-2.
  9. ^ Catharine Merrill; Katharine Merrill Graydon (1934). Catharine Merrill, Life and Letters: Collected and Arranged. Greenfield, IN: The Mitchell Company. pp. 373–74, 376–77. OCLC 7102104.
  10. ^ Waller, George M. (2006). Butler University : A Sesquicentennial History. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-253-34723-8.
  11. ^ "University of Indianapolis". lost-colleges. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  12. ^ "Butler University". indyencyclopedia.org. March 27, 2021. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  13. ^ Waller, George "Mac" (2006). Butler University: A Sesquicentennial History. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press. p. 149. ISBN 0-253-34723-8.
  14. ^ Drawbaugh, Kevin A. (February 16, 1988). "Woollen's Mark Seen on Major Indiana Buildings". Indianapolis News. Indianapolis: C3. See: "Biographical" Sketch in Woollen, Molzan and Partners, Inc. Architectural Records, ca. 1912–2011. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. 2017. See also: Mary Ellen Gadski, "Woollen, Molzan and Partners" in David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, ed. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. pp. 1453–54. ISBN 0-253-31222-1.
  15. ^ Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall Archived June 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, (Butler University), retrieved June 12, 2010.
  16. ^ Butler Breaks Ground on $14 Million Pharmacy, Health Sciences Addition Archived February 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, (Butler University), published May 8, 2008.
  17. ^ "2023 Master's University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  18. ^ "Best Colleges 2023: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 25, 2023.
  19. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  20. ^ "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse. Retrieved January 27, 2024.
  21. ^ Institute for Research and Scholarship, (Butler University), retrieved March 16, 2010.
  22. ^ Butler Summer Institute Archived May 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, (Butler University – Institute for Research and Scholarship), retrieved March 16, 2010.
  23. ^ "Butler University-Bulldogs - Indianapolis Star - indystar.com". Indianapolis Star.
  24. ^ Butler joins A10 for 2012 Archived June 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "New Big East adds Butler Bulldogs, Creighton Bluejays, Xavier Musketeers – ESPN". ESPN. March 20, 2013.
  26. ^ "Butler University To Join Big East For 2013–14". butlersports.com. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013.
  27. ^ Butler Athletics Archived October 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, (ButlerSports), retrieved June 7, 2010.
  28. ^ ESPN's NCAA basketball tournament History – Butler Bulldogs, (ESPN), retrieved March 15, 2010.
  29. ^ Butler To Induct Seven Individuals, Two Teams Into Hall of Fame Archived October 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, (Butler University – The Official Athletics Site), retrieved March 15, 2010.
  30. ^ 2006–07 Notre Dame Men's Basketball Media Guide (Notre Dame Athletics), retrieved March 15, 2010
  31. ^ 2005–06 Butler Men's Basketball Media Guide (Butler University – The Official Athletics Site), retrieved March 15, 2010
  32. ^ 'Dog Days Archived March 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (New York Post), retrieved March 15, 2010
  33. ^ 2001–02 Men's Basketball Schedule and Results Archived December 17, 2006, at the Wayback Machine (Indiana University Athletics), retrieved March 15, 2010
  34. ^ "College Scorecard: Butler University". United States Department of Education. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  35. ^ a b "At a Glance - Butler University". Archived from the original on October 19, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2013. (Butler University), retrieved February 15, 2013.
  36. ^ Interfraternity Council Chapters Archived June 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine (Butler University), retrieved June 9, 2010.
  37. ^ National Pan-Hellenic Council Archived June 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, (Butler University), retrieved June 10, 2010.