$1 Million Butler Gift Benefits Servant Leadership Students

COLUMBUS, Ga.Seven of Columbus State Universitys top students have returned this semester with full stipends in the universitys heralded Servant Leadership program because of a $1 million endowment established by Jim and Susan Butler.

Established during Columbus State Universitys Investment in People capital campaign, the Susan Chappell Butler Endowment for Servant Leadership is benefiting its second class of students this academic year. Each student receives a $1,250 stipend each semester for successful completion of the program requirements, which include maintaining a 3.0 minimum GPA and an impressive schedule of community service, mentoring projects and meetings.

For Jessica Bennett, a sophomore from the Atlanta area, the Servant Leadership program and the accompanying stipend shes received for the last two years have opened up a new world. By being a part of this program I have been given opportunities that are not available to everyone, she said. This opportunity reassured me that I had made the right decision in choosing my college. I looked at several other universities, and none of them offered a program like Servant Leadership. I have been a member of this program for a year now, and I can already see changes in my life.p> For Chelsea Thornton, a freshman nursing major from Smiths, Ala., being named a Butler Scholar made the difference in which college to attend.

If she had not been awarded the scholarship, I would have either gone to Mercer or [University of Alabama at Birmingham], she said. I have had a great transition from high school to college. I am really excited about the next four years at school and in the program.

Funding for the endowment includes Carpenters Hall, across Ninth Street from the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. It is utilized for classrooms, academic support space and administrative offices for the newly opened RiverPark campus.

This is an investment in one of our most precious commodities tomorrows leaders, said CSU President Frank Brown. The students in our Servant Leadership program are learning that people are the key to any organizations success, and that we all have a responsibility to give back.

A partner in the Columbus and Atlanta law firm of Butler, Wooten and Fryhofer, Jim Butler is recognized as one of the countrys top plaintiffs lawyers. He is a donor to and a trustee of the Arch Foundation, which raises and manages private gifts to the University of Georgia.

Susan Chappell Butler, a CSU alumna and former member of the CSU Foundation Board of Trustees, has demonstrated her commitment to her community through long, active service to many local organizations, including the Anne Elizabeth Shepherd Home and ARTS Reach, a program to bring the great performances at the RiverCenter to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see them. She also is a former member of the Brookstone Board of Trustees, the St. Francis Foundation, the Columbus Symphony, the Salvation Army and the House of Mercy. She is currently president of the board of Twin Cedars Youth Services.

When I think of the Columbus State University Servant Leadership students, I am reminded of this quote: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has, she said. It is truly an honor to be part of CSUs Servant Leadership Program. This wonderful group of students demonstrates every day that giving back to the community is a responsibility and is important that they can indeed bring about positive change. These students are our countrys future - a very, very bright future.