The Academy named Dr. Stephen L. Butler as the new Dean of Academic Affairs. Dr. Butler had previously served the institution as its Dean of Instructional Design and Technology and is leading our major effort to transition to Canvas, a new online learning management system. The transition, which will greatly enhance our students’ learning experience, will be complete by 1 September.
Before coming to the Academy, Dr. Butler served in various academic leadership positions at Troy University, Columbus State University, and Auburn University. A retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, he served as a B-52 navigator and military educator. Dr. Butler earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Auburn, his master’s in Educational Administration from Chapman University and his bachelor’s in Physical Education from Florida Atlantic University.
Dr. Butler has been involved in sports since he was 6-years-old. He was an all-county baseball selection in high school and a two-time Most Valuable Player of the California State Championships in softball. He is also an avid runner who has completed in 30 marathons, including the Boston Marathon twice. Dr. Butler has served on the Board of Directors of the Big Sur International Marathon for the past 13 years.
He replaces Dr. Will Evans, the former dean, who plans to return to medicine, which is his first love. Dr. Evans will assume the position of Associate Provost for the University of Western States in Portland, Ore., where he will oversee a large wellness initiative, the doctor of chiropractic program, and the research division for the university. Dr. Evans is also responsible for developing new academic programs. He plans to continue to serve the Academy as a Distance Learning Faculty member.
Alumni Network: What’s it like being the navigator in a B-52 and how do you apply that training to what you do today?
Dr. Steve Butler: Having been involved in team sports my entire life; I can tell you, without reservation, that being part of the six-man (I can say “man” because women were not allowed to fly combat aircraft when I was flying.) crew on a B-52 was the ultimate team. This was especially true during Operation Desert Storm, when any mistake could lead to catastrophic results. It was very easy to make a sound argument that each person on the B-52 crew was the most important member of the crew and the most essential to mission accomplishment.
I think that translates into higher education as well. You could make a good argument that each person here at the Academy does the most important job in ensuring that we accomplish our mission of sport education. That and the importance of teamwork are the two lessons that flow very nicely from the cockpit of a B-52 to the online classroom at the United States Sports Academy.
Alumni Network: What do you hope to achieve as the Dean of Academic Affairs?
Dr. Steve Butler: My No. 1 goal in every educational position is to create an atmosphere conducive to success for each student. I think that educators who try to make things better for all students are missing the boat. There is absolutely nothing that works for all students. But it is our job to make sure we do everything we can for each student. It is my hope that, under my leadership, everyone in Academic Affairs will adopt this philosophy and do everything we can to help each student through the process of receiving a quality sports education. Finally, even though we know intuitively that it is not possible, I honestly believe that a 100% success rate should never stop being our goal.
Alumni Network: Assess the current state of the Academy’s faculty and programs?
Dr. Steve Butler: The Academy’s faculty has never been better. Many programs like ours have a homogenous faculty of professors with doctorate degrees in sports management. Our faculty, on the other hand, is very diverse with a wide variety of degrees that are directly applicable to teaching our students in all areas of sports. Our resident faculty includes professors with doctorate degrees from Auburn University, the United States Sports Academy, LSU, Walden University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Missouri, in Educational Leadership, Sports Management, Exercise Science, Philosophy, Sport and Exercise, and Health Education and Promotion. This group of professionals, together with our ever-evolving programs, provides our students at all three levels—bachelor’s, masters, and doctorate—with a world-class education that prepares them well for a career in sports.
Alumni Network: What great things can students expect from Canvas and your leadership?
Dr. Steve Butler: When the transition to Canvas, our new Learning Management System (LMS), is complete; our students will begin to see increasingly enhanced courses with more interaction, increased functionality, and an ease of use that will greatly enhance the learning experience of each student. The current LMS was not meeting the needs of our students or faculty and many of our students commented about this in the end-of-course critiques.
We really do read every word written by our students and, when possible, do what we can to meet their needs. This new LMS will allow each student to choose how he or she receives all course-related information. It will also allow faculty and instructional designers to enhance courses with videos, recorded messages from professors, and many other improvements that are just not possible with the current system.
Alumni Network: Anything else you would like to add?
Dr. Steve Butler: I am honored to serve the students, faculty, and staff of the United States Sports Academy as the Dean of Academic Affairs. Other than my family and friends, the two great joys of my life have been sports and education. Here I get to do both.