Former Butler University president Bobby Fong dies

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INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 8, 2014) – Former Butler University president Dr. Bobby Fong has died.

Butler University spokesman Marc Allan confirmed the news with FOX59.

Fong, 64, was a beloved figure for the university who gained national prominence as the Bulldogs basketball team made back-to-back appearances in the Final Four.

He was most recently president of Ursinus College in Collegeville, Penn., after taking a job there in July 2011. College officials said Fong died at his home from natural causes. Other stops in his academic career included Berea College (Berea, Ky.), Hope College (Holland, Mich.) and Hamilton College (Clinton, N.Y.). He came to Butler in 2001, guiding the university through a period of unprecedented growth.

Butler President James Danko released the following statement about Fong’s contributions to the university:

“Dr. Fong’s decade of service as our University’s twentieth president forever changed Butler for the better, and we are deeply grateful for his legacy of excellence. During his tenure, he led major initiatives that strengthened Butler’s academics, campus infrastructure, and stewardship.”

According to the university, Fong considered Butler’s invitation to establish a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 2010 and the increase in the graduation rate from 62 percent to 73 percent over the decade as two highlights from his time as Butler’s president.

Butler posted this tribute banner to Fong on its website

Butler posted this tribute banner to Fong on its website

Photo courtesy Ursinus College

Photo courtesy Ursinus College

Fong grew up in Oakland, Calif., and was the son of Chinese immigrants. He earned a scholarship to Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He earned a doctorate in English literature from UCLA in 1978 was is an internationally known scholar of Oscar Wilde.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and his wife extended their sympathies to the family and the Butler University community:

“Winnie and I extend our deepest sympathies to President Fong’s family, friends and the entire Bulldog Nation. Bobby Fong was a well-respected scholar and a major part of the advancement of Butler University. Bobby was an avid baseball fan pulled from life’s starting lineup too soon.”

Fong is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and their sons Jonathan and Nicholas (“Colin”).