All Things Buckeye: Don Butler
September 11, 2012
Don Butler and his pals from Bradley Hall could have inspired the “how firm thy friendship” lyrics in Ohio State’s alma mater, “Carmen, Ohio.” During the early 1970s, the group shared many adventures, including participation in an initiative to live in the first coed residence hall. They credit this “achievement” and many other memorable experiences with the closeness that continues among them to this day.
Butler graduated from Ohio State in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, followed by a bachelor’s in electrical engineering in 1977. He then obtained an MBA and master’s degree of electrical engineering from the University of Dayton, followed by an impressive 28 years working in the automotive industry with General Motors and subsequent partners.
After Butler retired, he wanted to use his knowledge of cars through volunteering and found the ideal opportunity at Ohio State’s Center for Automotive Research in the College of Engineering. His involvement grew from a volunteer job into a full-time position as assistant director of research projects five years ago. These days, he helps students design and build the Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2, considered the next generation in land speed racing and current holder of the hydrogen land speed world record.
To encourage future students to pursue interdisciplinary studies, as he did, Butler created an estate plan that benefits the College of Engineering and qualifies him for recognition in The Neil Legacy Society. He also is a longtime Buckeye Club member, investing annually in Department of Athletics scholarships that benefit student athletes.
Over the years, Butler’s annual giving support has achieved leadership levels and recognition by the President’s Club, an accomplishment that holds meaning for him. “The President’s Club has provided an avenue for me to stay in touch with the university,” he said. “I’ve been able to get involved with several projects, including the Woody Hayes Chair, mechanical engineering complex, and library renovation. To me, being a member of the President’s Club is like owning stock in a company that keeps appreciating—I feel richer with every passing day.”
Aside from work, Butler spends many nights and weekends on campus cheering the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium, the Schottenstein Center, or Bill Davis Baseball Stadium. He also has traveled to dozens of away football games and bowl games—often meeting up with those lifelong friends from Bradley Hall.