University Founder Demia Butler & The University’s Abolitionist-Feminist Beginnings

By , February 4, 2015 9:13 am

University Founder Demia Butler

How much do you know about Founder’s Day at Butler? Demia Butler, the daughter of Ovid Butler, was the first woman to graduate from the full four-year classical studies program in 1862. There were women in the school’s first graduating class in 1856, but prior to 1862 women had graduated from a three-year program. After Demia graduated, the three-year woman’s program was abolished, and all students took the same curriculum.

Demia married in 1866, only to die in 1867 at the age of 25. To honor her memory, her father founded the Demia Butler Chair of English Literature in 1869, the first endowed chair in the U.S. specifically created for a female professor. In establishing the chair, Ovid Butler requested it was “to be filled always and only by a good and competent female professor” for courses “as may be most appropriately taught by female professors”; although smart drugs guide in the chair’s 146-year history it has been held – against Ovid Butler’s wishes – twice by male professors. Today the chair is held by English professor Susan Neville.


Demia Butler

Demia Butler


Abolitionist and Feminist Beginnings

In 1847, abolitionist Disciples of Christ members in Indiana proposed founding a university on free soil. The closest Disciples school, Bethany College, was in Virginia, a slave-holding state. The importance of founding a school with abolitionist values was a primary motivator, as stated by Ovid Butler,

The institution originated in the desire of its founders and early patrons for an institution of learning of the highest class upon free soil, in which their children and the youth of the Northwest might receive a liberal and Christian education, removed, as far as practicable, from the pernicious influences of slavery.

When North Western Christian University opened its doors on November 1, 1855, women and students who had been expelled from Bethany College for their abolitionist beliefs were in the first class. Significantly, from its beginning, NWCU admitted women and students of color, as well as those from all religious backgrounds or none, being nonsectarian from its founding. NWCU was the first college in Indiana and the second in the US to admit women on an equal basis with men.

North Western Christian University at College Ave and 13th Street

North Western Christian University at College Ave and 13th Street

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Book Signing Feb 5 – Chasing Freedom

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By , February 3, 2015 10:57 am

As part of our Founder’s Week celebrations, Butler Libraries will be hosting a book signing with award-winning book illustrator Michele Wood!

What: Book signing with illustrator Michele Wood
Where: Irwin Library
When: Wed, Feb 5 – 4:00 – 6:00pm

The bookstore will be on hand selling copies of Michele’s new book, co-authored with Nikki Grimes, Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony.

Chasing Freedom Cover

Imagine if Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony reminisced about their extraordinary lives
The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman & Susan B. Anthony
By Nikki Grimes
Illustrated by Michele Wood

“A tremendous opportunity for children to understand what these women worked so hard to accomplish—one succeeding and one coming close.”
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Audiences willing to embrace the unusual concept, though, may view this as a vanguard piece in an engaging new form that mixes nonfiction with historical fiction.”
— School Library Journal, starred review

Chasing Freedom, written by award-winning poet and author Nikki Grimes and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Michele Wood, invites curious young readers to further explore two of nineteenth century’s most powerful, and inspiring American women; Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman through an engaging work of historical fiction.

Chasing Freedom richly imagines the experiences of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, illuminating historical events like the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Young readers will have fun discovering this historical fiction adventure complete with breathtaking illustrations that highlight some of the most influential events, leaders, and the legislation, of that time period.

Nikki Grimes won a 2014 Coretta Scott King Honor for Words with Wings, she is the author of four other Coretta Scott King Honor books: Talkin’ About Bessie, Jazmin’s Notebook, The Road to Paris, and Dark Sons. She also won the Coretta Scott King Award for Bronx Masquerade and is the recipient of the 2006 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her acclaimed body of work for children includes the Orchard books Welcome, and Precious. Nikki Grimes lives in Corona, California. Please visit her online at

Michele Wood is a painter, illustrator and designer. She won the American Book Award for Going Back Home and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for I See the Rhythm. Wood lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Please visit her online at


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University Founder Ovid Butler

By , February 3, 2015 8:12 am

University Founder Ovid Butler

How much do you know about Founder’s Day at Butler? Without this man, Ovid Butler, there would be no Butler University today. He wrote the charter that was passed by the IN State Assembly in 1850, raised money to build the school, and donated the land at what is now 13th St and College Ave for the first campus!

Ovid Butler

Ovid Butler

Ovid Butler (1801-1881) was a schoolteacher, lawyer, journalist, land developer, abolitionist, and founder of our university. He arrived in Indianapolis in 1836 and established a respected law practice. He was a member of the Free Soil Party and published the Free Soil Banner, an abolitionist newspaper.

In 1847, he redirected his energies into founding a university for the Disciples of Christ in Indianapolis, to be called North Western Christian University. As a board member, Butler saw the school through its initial fundraising and founding, donating land he owned to build the new school. In 1877 the school was renamed Butler University in his honor. This portrait of Ovid hangs in Robertson Hall. It was a gift to the university from Butler’s son Scot to commemorate the first Founder’s Day, Feb 7, 1882.

Architect's Color Illustration of the First Building Planned for North Western Christian University

Architect’s Color Illustration of the First Building Planned for North Western Christian University

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Founder’s Week 2015

By , February 2, 2015 11:07 am

2015 Founder’s Week

We are very excited that Irwin Library will be hosting some of the University’s Founder’s Week events! To see a list of all events happening this week, please visit Some items of note this week include:

Monday, February 2

  • Founder’s Week Kick-Off
    3:00pm, Irwin Library Collaborative Space
    Welcome by Provost Kate Morris and President Jim Danko
    Photo unveiling at 3:30pm. Coffee, tea, and cookies provided
  • Founder’s Week Keynote Speaker
    4:00pm, Irwin Library Collaborative Space
    Cultivating Positive Change: What Can Allies Do to Reduce Discrimination?
    Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, PhD, Assoc. Professor of Psychology, IUPUI

Wednesday, February 4

  • Book Signing
    4:00 – 6:00pm, Irwin Library Collaborative Space
    Indianapolis illustrator Michele Wood book signing, Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of  Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony by Nikki Grimes

All Week Long

  • Founder’s Exhibit in Irwin Library Atrium
    An exhibit showcasing the history of Butler University, along with cut-outs of Ovid Butler and his daughter Demia, two founding important members of the university. Tweet your picture and #standwithovid!

Fun at the 2014 Founder’s Week Exhibit

For accessibility information or to request disability-related accommodations, please visit  

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2015 Celebration of Scholarship

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By , January 15, 2015 10:19 am

2015 Celebration of Scholarship, Creative Activity and Professional Achievement Event

Mark your calendars to attend and share your 2014 professional accomplishments at this year’s Celebration of Scholarship, Creative Activity and Professional Achievement being held on Wednesday, March 18, 2015 from 4pm to 6pm in Irwin Library.

2014 Celebration of Scholarship

2014 Celebration of Scholarship

Sponsored by Butler Libraries and the Butler Institute for Research and Scholarship, this event showcases faculty and staff research, scholarship, creative activity, and grant funding via posters.  This year, we are asking you to submit a citation and brief abstract of one or two pieces of work completed in 2014.  This information will be displayed on posters along with your name, college and picture for reception attendees to read short excerpts of colleagues’ professional achievements.  The linked form below will walk you through the abstract submission process (grant proposals do not need to be submitted).  Submissions are due:  Friday, February 13.

Our March 18 reception is your opportunity to view other’s professional accomplishments, meet up with colleagues, and celebrate our institution’s contributions to the advancement of knowledge.  Wine, appetizers, live music, and brief remarks by our Provost make this event a special opportunity to take a break and appreciate the collective research and publication output of the Butler community.

Please fill out the form below to share your contributions and plan on attending the March 18 reception:

Scholarship, Creative Activity and Professional Achievement Form – Submissions due February 13:

Contact Amanda Starkel concerning questions about submission.

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