The stories (very well-deserved) [have been] written for readers everywhere about Brad Stevens, Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack. Even Blue dominates media attention. However, the individual who seemed to get lost in all the hype leading up to the NCAA men’s national championship basketball game is Bobby Fong, president of Butler University.
Bobby Fong will become president of Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa., in several months. Since taking the reins in 2001, Bobby Fong has created a legacy for Butler, for Indianapolis, and now, for the nation, that will be remembered for a long time to come.
I have had the privilege of knowing Fong—the educator, the scholar, the community leader, the husband and father, the New York Yankees fanatic and the gentleman—for nine of those 10 years. He is focused on his personal mission, to enhance the lives of others through quality education in a holistic approach. Equally important, Bobby Fong is, at all times, thoughtful, caring and gracious. He asks tough questions when needed, and leads with effectiveness and confidence. And, with today’s emphasis placed on graduation rates, Ursinus found a president responsible for 95 percent of his students receiving their diplomas.
Bobby Fong uses an old Appalachian saying in his speeches, “When you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn’t get there by itself.” As readers continue to pore over the well-deserved articles about so many others at Butler on the front pages and sports sections of newspapers, or as the lead stories on air, far down the list to be featured or interviewed is the architect of Butler’s beautiful campus, the mastermind of its rich tradition, the major influence in its fundraising success, the main connection so many in our region and throughout the country have with Butler: Bobby Fong.
No more avid fan of Butler men’s basketball walks the face of this earth. Bobby will truly be missed! If this were major-league baseball, people would be asking, “How did we let him sign with a small-market team?” Is that what it takes, two trips to the Final Four, to realize what the real value of a great university leader actually is?