Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Where Fong should take Butler next

April 5, 2010

No university could buy the kind of attention Butler is getting from its Final Four run. There has been a blizzard of it, and virtually all of it positive.

What should Butler do with all that new public relations capital?

Jerry Bepko, the former IUPUI chancellor who oversaw a sweeping upgrade of the campus, shot Butler President Bobby Fong a message recently congratulating him on his successes and telling him he had come to an especially propitious moment.

Fong couldn’t have asked for the attention at a better time, says Bepko, who raised hundreds of millions of dollars and saw enrollment climb before stepping into emeritus status in 2003. The world has arrived at Butler’s doorstep just as Fong has put its house in order.

Fong has been quietly building Butler’s academics and life experiences to the point where Bepko has taken notice of the honest, respectful and intellectually solid nature of its grads in the class he teaches at the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.

“It’s not a school built on fads or scintillism,” Bepko says. “It’s built on a bedrock of traditional values. It’s a gem. And Bobby Fong has added to that gem.”

Parents and students who take a look at Butler as a result of its basketball success not only will like the institution, Bepko says, but they’ll also like the enclave tucked safely away from high-crime areas yet minutes from a vibrant downtown. Recruiting could be stepped up and donors courted.

“This would be a good time for him and his board to decide how to take advantage of the strength they have built,” Bepko says.

If you were Fong and Butler trustees, what would you do?

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