by Bethel University
After 10 years as President of Bethel University, Dr. Walter Butler has announced his plans to retire on December 31, 2023.
“Bethel University without Walter Butler is virtually unfathomable,” said Nancy Bean, Chair of Bethel University’s Board of Trustees. “His total contributions to Bethel are entirely too numerous to mention or to even recognize. However, it can easily be said that he has successfully and with honor, commitment and dignity guided the University through some of its best times and some of the most difficult times of its history. As both the Director of Business Affairs and later as President he has made an indelible mark on the University, and one for which his legacy will be remembered with deep admiration and appreciation for generations to come.”
Butler has a long history with the University. He began working at Bethel as an admission counselor in 1975.
“I never planned on being president of this University, but I am so grateful to have had the opportunity,” said Butler. “Everyone here is committed to making a difference in the lives of our students. They’re on a mission, and it has been a wonderful thing to be a part of. Bethel University has been a blessing to me, and I will forever be grateful to it.”
In addition to his time in higher education, Butler spent many years in public service. At 24, he was elected Carroll County Trustee and became the youngest county-wide official ever elected in Carroll County. He spent 18 years in Carroll County government prior to serving in roles as Tennessee’s Director of State Parks and Deputy Commissioner of Personnel.
After those roles, Butler returned to Bethel to serve as Director of Business Affairs, Vice President of the College of Liberal Arts, and Vice President of the College of Criminal Justice before being named President.
“While with regret, we honor his decision to retire,” said Bean. “We also understand and support his decision to have more time with his family and to pursue other hobbies and activities of his choosing. The Board of Trustees is moving forward. A Presidential Search Committee has been formed to find a successor to Dr. Butler. They are in the very early stages of their quest and will eventually bring names and nominations to the full Board.”