Hello, everyone, and welcome to our installment, “Acts of Reading and Writing: Faculty Profiles.” This week we feature Alvin Butler, Lewis University LMS and Media Technology Administrator. Lewis student Celeste Martinez interviewed Mr. Butler. The mini-interview, that the Jet Fuel Review editors are also partaking in for the “Meet the Editors” series, is located after the profile.
Alvin Butler, the tall man behind the glass windows in the library who is always wearing a black leather jacket, is also known as the Blackboard wiz; and, I’m proud to say, he is my ICE (Introduction to the College Experience) mentor. I met Mr. Butler this year in my ICE class. I won’t lie, at first, I thought he was going to be an unfriendly, strict mentor; but, it turned out I was completely wrong. He is one of the kindest, though frankest mentors, you could have in ICE. He doesn’t sugar coat it for you; he tells you how it is. However, he listens to you, and you can tell that he truly cares about all of his students in ICE. I genuinely look forward to every ICE session with Mr. Butler. In this class we are able to speak our minds and express our opinions on various topics from racism to culture. He always says, “What happens in this class stays in this class.” I like this particular approach because I like to know that we can be honest and say what we feel. We don’t have to be afraid that he will judge us, because he never does.
Mr. Butler understands us and always tries to learn from us, in the same way we learn from him. He makes the whole learning process entertaining, especially with his weekly stories that always make us laugh. His most recent story was about an embarrassing situation at a grocery store. He was being a considerate husband and went to the grocery store to buy his wife tampons. When he went to purchase them, the price would not scan so the woman at the register had to make an announcement on the overhead speaker for a price check on the tampons. Mr. Butler became bright red and embarrassed, begging the woman to not make the announcement, but she did nevertheless. When he returned home he didn’t speak to his wife the rest of that evening. The whole class jumped out of their seats laughing when he told us, as it was one of his funniest stories yet.
Mr. Alvin Butler works at Lewis University as the Blackboard administrator, and teaches an Introduction to Information Systems course, besides being my ICE mentor. As the Lewis University Blackboard administrator, his job consists of interpreting the blackboard manual and ensuring that he and his group are handling the technology efficiently here at Lewis, as well as being able to write in technical terms and expressing himself in terms that his primary support will understand. Being an expert in technology, Mr. Butler has an educational background in his specific field. He graduated from Rock Island High School which is located in Illinois. Then, he received his Associates in Computer Science at Blackhawk College, which is located in Moline, Illinois. Later, in 2004, he received his Bachelors of Science in Information Technology at Franklin University in Ohio.
Over the years, finances and African American history have been two subjects that have always been a significant part of his life. In fact, one of the finance books that changed his life completely was Suze Orman’s Action Plan How to Keep Your Money Safe. It was a book that, “broke down how to keep your money safe and sound, what’s good and bad debt, how to budget, and how to live within your means.” Suze Orman’s book made Mr. Butler develop an Action Plan that he has been following “to the tee” ever since 2009. In his Action Plan, he develops a monthly budget and he records in a journal every single thing he spends. At the end of each week, he goes over his journal and makes sure he is on point with his budget. He usually declares a budget of $1,000 per month, which accounts for all his entertainment and family expenses. He has three children that he supports, a twenty-one year old, a seventeen year old, and a nine year old, as well as a wife, so being good with money all the time is a major priority.
Creating a monthly budget was not always his main expertise. To pay off college, Mr. Butler was a party promoter. He became known throughout his campus and earned a lot of money mainly due to his ideal strategy. He would rent out a club named “Blues” and would pay the club owner $1,000 per night. He then was paid $1.75 for every flyer he gave away. Initially, it was supposed to be $0.75, but being the smart negotiator he is, he convinced the owner to pay him $1.75. Although, he was supposed to go out and promote the party, instead, he would distribute the flyers to women and tell them that they would get in for free. What the women did not know was that it was always a “free ladies night” at the club. The brilliant thing about this strategy was that he knew that by bringing the women into the club that the guys would go too, and the guys were charged. One day, Mr. Butler was approached by Al Haymon, a former music promoter and now an American boxing advisor. He appreciated Mr. Butler’s intelligence in promoting parties and offered him a job in New York. However, this offer was complicated by the fact that Mr. Butler’s girlfriend, who is now his wife, was pregnant with his first boy. He decided to reject the offer and stay and support his family. To do so, he had to drop out of college and start working: “Do I regret it? No. Don’t get me wrong, music will always be in my heart and will be my passion and I still have friends that promote these big concerts that I attend, but that was never a regret of mine at all.”
Alvin Butler has always been a proud African American that has learned to never judge a person by his or her cover, because according to him,
“You can be blue, green, red, orange, brown, or whatever the situation may have you; however, I judge you by the person you are on the inside and not by your skin color.”
I believe this attitude has influenced his favorite selections of literature: from Maya Angelou’s poems, to Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, to Alex Haley’s Roots, to Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave. The quote, “You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been” by Maya Angelou, he says has influenced his life greatly. He has implemented that quote into his children’s lives by teaching them that education is key.
All of his favorite works have the common theme of African American history and pride. These works help us understand suffrage and achievements many African Americans have witnessed throughout the years. Mr. Butler desperately wants his children to know what African Americans have gone through to provide them the liberty they have today. He says that “everyone wants to be a rapper and no one wants to be a doctor or lawyer or anything like that. I think for me and the way I want to raise my sons was based off old values.”
Overall, Mr. Alvin Butler is a man who knows how to manage his money and connects strongly to his roots. Being an administrator at Lewis University has helped him manage his Action Plan, which is greatly important to him. He has always put his family first over everything else, and has managed to teach them the value of the dollar as well as teaching them respect and discipline. Mr. Alvin Butler is a wonderful, amusing man who you can easily confide in. He has never judged anyone in our class and has always treated all of us with respect. Honestly, he’s taught us so many lessons throughout my semester in ICE that I would not have learned in any book. I am very grateful and appreciative to have him as my ICE teacher.
Acts of Reading and Writing: Meet Alvin Butler, Sr.
Q: What book might we find on your nightstand right now?
A: Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan Keeping Your Money Safe & Sound
Q: If you had the chance to co-write with one author, who would you choose?
A: Suze Orman Why? I love her ability to simply finances.
Q: Can you describe your perfect reading atmosphere?
A: A nice, clean, quiet environment
Q: What might your personal library look like?
Q: If you could “re-make” any movie that was based on a book, what movie would it be?
To Kill a Mockingbird
Q: What book can you read over and over again?
Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan Keeping Your Money Safe & Sound
Q: Can you provide us with a quote from your favorite (or any) book/movie?
A: “Wake Up!…Wake Up!…Wake Up!”… Spike Lee’s School Daze
Q: If you were invited to have coffee with any fictional character, who would you most like to meet?
Victor Newman Why? His character is a billionaire mogul with strong family ties.
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Thanks, Mr. Butler!