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.