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LEADING QUESTIONS: Butler's Fong talks sports, Stevens

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of  “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” where  IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about their industry and the habits that lead to success.

Bobby Fong, 60, became president of Butler University in 2001 and hit the national spotlight this spring when the men's basketball team streaked through the NCAA championship to the final game in its hometown. Fong gave 37 media interviews over a four-day period during Final Four festivities, and he also could be found hobnobbing with celebrating students.

Although hardly media fodder, Fong's achievements as president have been no less vital to the school than the high-profile exploits of Butler's hoops squad. After the university ran on deficits for more than a decade, Fong instituted financial equilibrim in the 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.

In the video below, Fong discusses his Final Four experience, capped by the decision to extend basketball coach Brad Stevens' contract and pay him at a major-college level. (The contract is believed to include about $600,000 in base pay, plus bonuses that could bring its annual value close to $1 million; Fong declined to reveal details.) He also tackles the issue of generating revenue for Butler, including the steps he's not willing to take to bolster the top line.



The first American-born child of Chinese immigrants, Fong began studying baseball as a child to learn more about American culture. Today, he's on the board of the Indianapolis Indians and sports oodles of baseball memorabilia in his office on Butler's campus. In the video below, Fong shows off some of his prized possessions and finds similarities between being a university president and a team manager.

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  • Marvin Scott
    Why does Butler continue to emply the racist, homophobic, perennially losing Marvin Scott? Is their a race/gender/sexual orientation he has NOT offended in public? Why does the university continue to associate itsself with a man of such low moral character?
  • bobby fong
    Bobby Fong is an inspiring leader and a genuinely nice guy. Butler and Indianapolis are blessed by his presidency. But for full disclosure I admit to bias in his favor; because, for the sheer joy of it, Bobby organized my childhood baseball card collection, which I had not looked at in decades.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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