The Tennessee Business Roundtable (www.tbroundtable.org) is pleased to welcome McKenzie-based Bethel University as its newest nonprofit partner member, following the unanimous approval of Bethel’s membership by the Roundtable’s Executive Committee. University President Dr. Walter Butler will serve as Bethel University’s principal representative to the Roundtable and serve on its all-member Board of Directors.
“In welcoming Bethel to our Roundtable, we’re delighted to add a respected institution which has educated and served many generations of residents, in rural West Tennessee and beyond,” said Roundtable Chair Matt Kisber (Chairman, Silicon Ranch Corporation, Nashville). “And we’re excited to add to our Roundtable Board the perspectives of a Tennessee higher-education leader with local and state government experience in the person of Dr. Butler,” he added.
“I am honored to represent higher education within the Tennessee Business Roundtable,” said Dr. Butler. “The Roundtable has always been such a great conduit for our businesses to be competitive both within and outside of Tennessee, and its distinguished Board makes sure that our businesses, their employees and their futures will be solid, so that our state and local communities can therefore thrive,” Butler added. “Higher education is a key part of Tennessee's future, and I hope that I, in a small way, can be of service to the Roundtable by bringing to it perspective from higher education.”
Welcome to our Roundtable, Dr. Butler and Bethel Wildcats!
About Bethel University
Bethel’s rich history in Tennessee dates back to 1847, when Bethel College was granted a charter by the State of Tennessee and began operations in Carroll County at McLemoresville. After successfully weathering the economic hardships wrought by the Civil War, Bethel College admitted women for the first time in 1865, then moved its campus to McKenzie in 1872.
During the 20th century, Bethel College made a name for itself as an outstanding church-affiliated school producing many graduates headed for the clergy, for the classroom as educators, and many other career paths. In 2009, its trustees voted to change the institution’s name to Bethel University.
Today, Bethel University works to create opportunities for learners to develop to their highest intellectual, spiritual, and social potential through study in its three Colleges: Arts and Sciences, Professional Studies, and Health Sciences. Recently, Bethel pioneered online education with its Success Adult Degree program.
About Dr. Walter Butler, Bethel University President
Dr. Butler places a high value on education as critical in priming Tennesseans—and their families—to reach their full potential. “Earning a degree isn’t an ending – it’s a beginning,” says Dr. Butler. “When you walk across that stage with your diploma, you’re not only changing your life; you may be changing the next generations of your family tree.”
After completing his undergraduate degree at Bethel College, Butler started work as an admissions counselor at the school in 1975. At 24, he then ran for the office of Carroll County Trustee, becoming the youngest official ever elected county-wide in Carroll County. After re-election to three terms as Trustee, Butler was then elected County Executive, and served a total of nearly 18 years in Carroll County government.
In 1996, Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist tapped Butler to serve as Tennessee’s Director of State Parks, overseeing 1,600 employees and a budget of $57 million. Gov. Sundquist then appointed Butler as Deputy Commissioner of Personnel for Tennessee’s 38,000 employees, then named him Commissioner of Personnel.
Following his service in the Sundquist Administration, Butler returned to his alma mater, first as Director of Business Affairs, then as Vice President of the College of Liberal Arts, and finally as Vice President for Bethel’s College of Criminal Justice before being named Interim President in 2013. On August 4, 2014, the University and its Board of Trustees named Butler as Bethel’s 40th President.