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### Enhancing Accessibility to Higher Education: The Mission of Butler+

Photo courtesy of on X.


On Feb. 20, the university unveiled Butler+, a centralized online platform offering a wide array of online, graduate, certificate, and non-credit programs. The primary goal of Butler+ is to facilitate individuals in accomplishing their educational objectives, thereby enhancing the accessibility of advanced education opportunities.

The initiative behind Butler+ was spearheaded by Stephanie Hinshaw, the associate vice president for transformation, in collaboration with the establishment of the Department of Professional Studies (DPS) in 2019. This endeavor was driven by the recognition of the necessity for a distinct “brand” and website to showcase Butler’s expanded educational offerings and to simplify the student experience.

According to Hinshaw, Butler+ serves as a unified entry point for individuals seeking information on the diverse programs available, eliminating the need to navigate through multiple websites associated with different colleges. By amalgamating on-campus graduate programs, industry partnerships, and online offerings, Butler+ presents a cohesive platform for current and prospective students to explore various educational opportunities.

Julie Straub, the senior executive director of DPS, expressed enthusiasm about the continual expansion of programs under Butler+. The platform has already introduced new programs, with plans for further launches in the upcoming months. The strategic focus initially was on establishing a robust foundation and generating interest around the existing offerings to build momentum.

Elizabeth Jackson, the associate director for industry partnerships at DPS, emphasized the importance of promoting non-traditional education through initiatives like Butler+. Despite Butler’s long-standing commitment to extended education, there has been a lack of visibility regarding these programs. Jackson highlighted the significance of raising awareness to enhance accessibility, particularly among the Indiana workforce.

One notable addition to the programs offered through Butler+ is the [ppp1], tailored for working adults seeking to complete their undergraduate degrees. Scheduled to commence in fall 2024, this program targets individuals with an associate degree or equivalent credits, offering a cost-effective option at $550 per credit. Additionally, Butler+ aims to align program costs with market demands, ensuring affordability and relevance for prospective students.

Carrie Chambers, the director of digital strategy and student engagement at DPS, noted a growing trend away from traditional educational pathways, particularly among adult learners. She emphasized the rising demand for opportunities to complete unfinished degrees, emphasizing the need for high-quality credentials to meet evolving career requirements.

In line with its commitment to accessibility, Butler+ offers a range of non-credit and certificate programs with minimal prerequisites, catering to individuals looking to advance their careers without committing to traditional academic routes. These programs are designed to be flexible and affordable, accommodating learners of all ages and backgrounds.

DPS is actively exploring the concept of “stackable” programs, allowing participants to progress seamlessly from non-credit courses to formal degrees. By fostering lifelong relationships with learners, Butler+ aims to provide a comprehensive educational ecosystem that supports diverse learning needs and career aspirations.

In addition to individual educational pursuits, Butler+ extends its reach to professional development and organizational advancement initiatives. Collaborations with organizations like [ppp2] enable the delivery of tailored education programs to employees and clients, further enhancing Butler’s impact beyond traditional academic boundaries.

The overarching vision for Butler+ is to continually expand its educational offerings, ensuring that Butler remains a versatile and inclusive educational institution catering to a diverse student population. By embracing a lifelong learning approach, Butler seeks to engage learners at every stage of their personal and professional development journey.