On Feb. 14, 2017, the Board of Trustees of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University unanimously appointed Dr. P. Barry Butler to serve as the sixth president of the world’s leading institution of higher education focusing on aviation, aerospace and research.
Dr. Butler assumed his position at Embry-Riddle on March 13, 2017, having previously served as Executive Vice President and Provost at the University of Iowa. Dr. Butler joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1984 as an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and subsequently progressed to the rank of professor.
Before entering administration in 1998, Dr. Butler served as a member of the Engineering Faculty Council, as well as the University of Iowa’s Faculty Senate and Faculty Council. Other positions held by Dr. Butler at the University of Iowa included Department Executive Officer of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Interim Dean and Dean of Engineering, where he held the rank of full professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
In his role as provost at the University of Iowa, Dr. Butler was responsible for more than 100 academic programs in the university’s 11 colleges. He also oversaw the Division of Continuing Education, the Library and Art Museum, and he was responsible for a general education fund budget in excess of $700 million. He was instrumental in advancing the university’s strategic plan, and he was responsible for coordinating the academic components of the arts campus rebuilding effort and provided leadership in the university’s cluster hiring initiatives in water sustainability, aging mind and brain, digital public arts, and humanities and informatics.
During his 10 years as dean of the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering, the College experienced record growth in undergraduate enrollment, external research funding and private support for faculty development, programmatic initiatives, facility improvements and student scholarships. To better prepare graduates for success in the global economy, Dr. 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. Dr. Butler further 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. He also supervised 34 undergraduate research projects, advised or co-advised 18 master’s students and eight doctoral students, and developed and taught 14 different courses.
Dr. Butler earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1979 and 1981, respectively. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 1984, also from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He has been active in a number of aerospace-related instructional and research activities at University of Iowa, where he also serves as campus coordinator of the Iowa Space Grant Consortium, a state-wide organization funded by NASA for the past 21 years whose mission is to coordinate and improve the state’s future in aerospace science and technology and to stimulate aerospace research, education and outreach activities throughout the state. He established a state-wide consortium (iawind.org) focused on research and curricular development that advances Iowa’s competitiveness in the field of wind energy with his own research 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. 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 Inc., Princeton Combustion Research Laboratories, Iowa Public Defenders Office, TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Automotive Systems Laboratory, Battelle Memorial Institute and Praxair Surface Technologies.
Dr. Butler 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. He also serves as the Governor’s delegate to the Aerospace States Association. As an active participant in Eastern Iowa’s Corridor STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Initiative, he was a strong advocate for working with industry, community colleges and K-12 educators to promote STEM education.
He is married to Dr. Audrey Butler, a lecturer in Chemical Engineering, and they have three children: Ben, 25, Logan, 23, and Savannah, 21.