UPDATE: Butler's Fong leaving for new job

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Butler University President Bobby Fong will leave at the end of the current academic year to take the helm of private Ursinus College outside Philadelphia, the Indianapolis school announced Friday afternoon.

The Pennsylvania college’s board of trustees confirmed Fong's appointment at a Friday meeting.

"I have been privileged to be associated with Butler through a decade of remarkable progress," Fong said in a prepared statement. "Ursinus sought a president to lead it in a strategic planning process, a comprehensive fundraising campaign, and an effort to raise its profile in the local community and nationally. Butler gave me experience in these areas."

Fong, 60, became Butler’s president in 2001 and hit the national spotlight this spring when its men's basketball team advanced to the NCAA championship game in its hometown. (He spoke about the experience, capped by the decision to extend coach Brad Stevens' contract, in a recent edition of IBJ's "Leading Questions" feature; see video below.)

Longtime Ursinus President John Robert Strassburger stepped down for personal and health reasons at the end of June. He died Sept. 22.

Business and civic leader John E.F. Corson has been leading the liberal-arts institution on an interim basis since July. He was not a candidate for the full-time job.

Founded in 1869, Ursinus has 1,700 students. Butler enrolls about 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students--up from 3,400 when Fong arrived. Graduation rates increasd from 62 percent to 73 percent under his watch, the university said.

Fong, who has made it a point to interact with Butler students during his tenure, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1973 with a bacherlor's degree in English.

The first American-born child of Chinese immigrants, Fong began studying baseball as a child to learn more about American culture (see video below). Now he's on the board of the Indianapolis Indians.

During his tenure, Fong restored financial equilibrium to Butler’s budget process and started an eight-year streak of surplus budgets beginning in the 2002-2003 fiscal year. In 2009, the school completed a six-year fundraising campaign, raising $154 million for scholarships, programs and facilities—almost $30 million more than the public goal.

Fong earned $376,126 in salary and benefits in the year ended May 31, 2009, according to university records.

Butler's board of trustees will form a search committee to look for Fong's successor, Chairman John Hargrove said in the release.

"All of us wish Bobby well in his new endeavors and we sincerely thank him for his dedication as our president," he said.


  • Bobby Fong
    Here it is.
  • Grateful
    Bobby Fong epitomized what Indiana was all about in all regards. Our family is grateful for his leadership and creating a diverse and competitive academic environment that our children and the state of Indiana can be very proud to be associated.
  • That explains it!
    Things had gone silent at Butler for too long compared to Marian, IUPUI,IU and others. yes they had a great team last season and yes they completed a successful Capital Campaign in 2009! But the job never stops! Now we know what has been going on for the past 8 months or so- Bobby has been paying attention to Bobby and not to Butler! Moving from a 4000 student to a 1700 school? Was he eased out?
    Dr. Fong is obviously a key reason for Butler's success. Increadible loss for Indiana. Hate to see him go. :(
  • The Bobby Fong Way
    Bobby Fong led our hometown university to national acclaim in both athletics and academics. Bobby understands the importance of balancing the academic experience with life experiences outside the classroom. His civic involvement and community leadership is a huge asset to Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. His legacy of effective university leadership will endure for decades. I am sad to hear about Bobby's departure, but I am glad the bar set by him is the standard by which the University will select its next leader. Congratulations Bobby! Job well done.
  • We'll miss you, Bobby.
    Bobby has been an excellent leader for Butler University over the past nine years. He will leave a great legacy. He has big shoes to fill, but I am sure the board of directors is up to the task.
  • Great loss
    As a staff member we are happy for Dr. Fong but sad at our loss. He was a GREAT university president and always accessible to staff and students.
  • Associate Dean
    Dr. Fong is an incredible man, and I am very proud of him. He has been the only President that I have worked with at Butler--worked with is such a great way to describe his leadership style. The students love Dr. Fong, and as a faculty member, I will miss his greatly. What a loss for Butler University.
  • Sad day for Butler
    I didn't have the honor of attending Butler while Bobby Fong was the President, but I believe he did great things for us. That, and he is a vast improvement over the previous Butler president who was in residence when I graduated. Good luck to you Bobby. Good luck to Butler's board of directors in finding a suitable replacement.
  • A big loss to the community
    Very sorry to see this. A true gentleman and a wonderful representative for his University.

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