After 17 years of leading Butler Community College through unprecedented collaboration and strategic innovation, President Dr. Jackie Vietti announced that she will retire at the end of 2012. Vietti, who became one of the most beloved and respected leaders in Butler’s history, is leaving the institution she has fostered a stellar reputation for since 1995.
Characteristic of the Butler family culture she championed, President Vietti made the announcement to a gathering of nearly 500 faculty and staff during Butler’s Fall Institutional Development Day on Tuesday afternoon. Later, at their monthly meeting, the Board of Trustees implemented Butler’s presidential succession plan, appointing Dr. Karla Fisher, Butler Community College VP of academics, as interim president. Vietti’s retirement will be effective Dec. 31, 2012.
Vietti served as Butler’s fourth president, since the transition from dean to president in 1963, and the first female to serve at its top post.
"It has been my most rewarding professional as well as personal experience to serve as the president of Butler for the past seventeen years,” said Vietti. “I have been afforded the opportunity to work beside truly exceptional individuals inside and outside the college, all of whom have invested selfless time, energy and thought in making our corner of the world a better place."
Credited with championing a new era of collaboration, Vietti’s enthusiastic approach to collective solutions has built shared and contagious visions, creating results that no one organization could ever have accomplished on its own.
One of the more recent and most defining examples of Vietti’s collaborative leadership came with this fall’s opening of the $12 million BG Products Veterans Sports Complex. This unique project, initiated during an uncertain economy, brought together three equal partners who worked together to create a true community facility. Vietti also spearheaded Butler’s engagement in the Achieve Kansas initiative, a partnership that involves 16 institutions of higher education in our region with the common goal of increasing post-secondary certificate/degree completion rates.
Under her leadership, defined by strategic planning, Butler initiated a new strategic framework based upon four stakeholder-driven priorities; developed and implemented organizational performance management and continuous improvement through participation in the Higher Learning Commission Academic Quality Improvement Program; and initiated the assessment of 21st century general education outcomes and workplace skills for Butler students.
Vietti’s most profound legacy will likely come through the thousands of students and alumni for whom she believed could achieve a better life through higher education. Creating multiple venues for access, Vietti advanced Butler’s mission to develop responsible, involved lifelong learners from expanded virtual learning programs to the Early College Health Sciences Academy at Rose Hill High School.
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Vietti spurred dramatic enrollment growth during her tenure, recording a 21 percent increase from the time she started to Butler’s highest enrollment of 10,116 students in fall 2010.
Vietti’s servant leadership stems from her firm belief that each individual has the potential to add value to an organization and a strong commitment to treat each person she encountered with dignity and respect.
"Butler is the college it is today because of the steadfast people who have believed and invested in its pure learning power,” said Vietti. “What an honor and privilege it has been for me to work beside the individuals who have made Butler and our region a better place for all."
Recognizing Vietti’s visionary leadership, transformative community influence and her uncompromising student commitment, Dr. Greg Joyce, Board of Trustees Chair, said it will be hard to imagine a Butler without Dr. Vietti.
“The culture of quality that exists here today has been developed under her inspiring leadership,” said Joyce. “She will be remembered, however, every time we look around and see all that has been accomplished during her time here. I don't know if there's another college administrator out there like her, but we're going to make every effort to find him or her."
Vietti realized many major strategic accomplishments during her time at Butler. Highlights include the completion of several capital projects, including a new Andover campus student union, a new welcome center in El Dorado, and an additional 192-bed student-housing complex; the recent grand opening of the Butler Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts; conversion of 120,000 square foot space into general and technical education classrooms within a building in the Andover Industrial Park; development and implementation of a $6 million technology plan; and initiation of a mutual gains collective bargaining process with the faculty association.
"People likely will wonder what I'm going to do with my newly found time,” said Vietti. “My first response is that I'll read some very good books over fine Coca Dolce and Sweet 120 chocolate. My second is that I'll continue to invest time and energy in several of the great causes that are in play in our region. I also see much more Nonie (Italian for grandmother) time in my future.
“I have long said that you never really leave Butler. Certainly that is true in my case, as I always will bleed purple and remain committed to helping the college and the broader community in any way I can."