IOWA CITY — AE alumnus Barry Butler has been named executive vice president and provost at the University of Iowa.
AE alumnus Barry Butler
Butler, who has served in the role on an interim basis since November, was one of three finalists for the position. He replaces Wallace Loh, who resigned in October to become president of the University of Maryland.
“I can’t think of anyone better suited to this position or more committed to the University of Iowa than Barry Butler,” University of Iowa President Sally Mason said in making the announcement. “As dean of the College of Engineering, interim provost, and as a world-class engineer and educator, Barry has my every confidence that he will be an excellent leader of our institution’s faculty and academic programs.”
Said Butler, “I have spent my entire academic career at the University of Iowa and have developed a deep understanding of and great respect for the institution. Under the leadership of President Mason, the University of Iowa has an opportunity to build on existing strengths and to develop strategic areas that have the potential to further distinguish us on a national and international level. I am honored to be a part of her leadership team.”
Prior to his appointment as interim provost, Butler was dean of the College of Engineering, where he holds the rank of full professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from AE at Illinois in 1979 and 1981, respectively. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 1984, also from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Before entering administration in 1998, Butler served as a member of the Engineering Faculty Council, as well as the UI Faculty Senate and Faculty Council. Past administrative positions held by Butler include department executive officer of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, associate dean for academic programs, interim dean, and dean of the College of Engineering.
While he was dean, the College of Engineering experienced record growth in undergraduate enrollment, external research funding, and private support for faculty development, programmatic initiatives, facility improvements, and student scholarships. As a result of a new curriculum that allows for a broader education, more than half of the college’s graduates now supplement their engineering degree with a minor, second major or certificate from a field other than engineering.
To better prepare graduates for success in the global economy, Butler established the Hanson Center for Technical Communication, a resource center devoted to improving the oral and written communication skills of students, initiated the “Grabbing the Globe” lecture series to promote global awareness, and developed and implemented Virtual International Project Teams, an inter-institutional program that partners Iowa’s students with students from other countries on global design projects.
Butler also has provided leadership in a number of graduate programs and research initiatives including the establishment of combined BS/MS programs and the creation of two highly successful, multi-college research centers, the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and the Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging. He was also instrumental in establishing several combined degree programs with Iowa’s community colleges and international partners.
As provost, Butler is responsible for more than 100 academic programs in the university’s 11 colleges, oversees the Division of Continuing Education, the UI Library and Museum of Art, and is responsible for a general education fund budget in excess of $440 million. He will be instrumental in advancing the university’s strategic plan, is responsible for coordinating the academic components of the arts campus rebuilding effort, and provides leadership in the university’s recent cluster hiring initiatives in water sustainability, aging mind and brain and digital public humanities.
Butler is active in a number of aerospace-related instructional and research activities at the UI, where he also serves as campus coordinator of the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, a statewide organization funded by NASA for the past 21 years whose mission is to coordinate and improve Iowa’s future in aerospace science and technology and to stimulate aerospace research, education and outreach activities throughout the state.
Through a $3 million grant from the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, he established a statewide consortium (www.iawind.org
) focused on research and curricular development that advances Iowa’s competitiveness in the field of wind energy. His research is in the area of non-ideal reactive fluid flow modeling. For the past decade he has worked closely with the automotive industry to develop advanced computer models for use in the design, development and analysis of occupant restraint safety systems. These analyses include real-gas thermodynamics and elementary combustion of the unique high-pressure environment of gas generators used to activate occupant restraint systems.
He has experience working as a visiting research fellow for the U.S. Navy and Sandia National Laboratories and as a visiting faculty member at Universite de Provence in Marseille, France. He has served as a professional consultant with Combustion Sciences Incorporated, Princeton Combustion Research Laboratories, Iowa Public Defenders Office, TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Automotive Systems Laboratory, Battelle Memorial Institute, and Praxair Surface Technologies. During his 26 years in academia, he has supervised 30 undergraduate students on research projects, advised or co-advised 18 master’s students and eight doctoral students, and has developed and taught 14 different courses.
In 2002 he was honored as an outstanding alumnus of the Department of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He currently chairs one the school’s alumni boards. In addition, the Society of Automotive Engineers named him a recipient of the Ralph Teetor National Educator Award, and the Iowa student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers named him as the Outstanding Professor. He currently serves on the boards of several state and national technology-based organizations committed to economic growth and advancing science, technology, engineering and math education. Butler also serves as Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s delegate to the Aerospace States Association.
As an active participant in Eastern Iowa’s Corridor STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Initiative, he has been a strong advocate for working with industry, community colleges and Iowa’s K-12 educators to promote STEM education. Over the past decade, he has presented to more than two dozen civic groups throughout Iowa on topics ranging from educational initiatives, faculty scholarship, and the role of higher education in advancing the well being of society and fostering economic growth.
As a student at the University of Illinois, he volunteered as a youth basketball coach, and at the Rehabilitation-Education Center as a reader/recorder of technical books and legal briefs for visually impaired students. Butler also has volunteered at the Wesley House Free Lunch Program and as a youth soccer and basketball coach in Iowa City, and he currently serves as a member of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association’s Board of Trustees.
He is married to Dr. Audrey Butler, a native of Keokuk, Iowa, and a lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the UI. They have three children: Ben, 19, Logan, 17 and Savannah, 15.