He may be leaving in January, but the farewells have already begun for State University of New York College at Old Westbury’s soon-departing President, The Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III.
Butts’ 20-year tenure as president was celebrated at “An Evening and Conversation with Calvin O. Butts, III” on Saturday, Nov. 2, where he was interviewed by journalist Randall Pinkston about his careers in education, non-profit work and as pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli was in attendance at the event, as well as former SUNY chairman Carl McCall and Academy Award-nominated actress Cicely Tyson.
Under Butts’ tenure, the school has seen more than $200 million in capital construction and renovation projects for the campus. Plans are also underway for an expansion and renovation of the current Natural Science Building into a state-of-the-art STEM center that will require an investment of more than $130 million.
Academically, Butts oversaw the implementation of higher admission standards for the school and the introduction of graduate programs at Old Westbury in 2004. In the 2019 to 2020 school year, the college had its largest student enrollment, with 5,128 students enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs.
“My experience with the students, faculty and staff of Old Westbury has been very rewarding,” Butts said. “I have enjoyed greatly the work we have done as a team of faculty, staff and administrators to create offerings and programs that allow our students to grow and to prepare themselves for the lives and careers they want to lead.”
In addition to his work at Old Westbury, Butts founded and serves as chairman of the non-profit Abyssinian Development Corporation, which since 1989 has created over $500 million worth of residential and commercial developments in Harlem. His work with ADC saw Butts appointed to various state boards, including the Empire State Development Board under Gov. George Pataki.
The evening ended with a reception in the school’s newly renovated library, where it was announced that the college intends to dedicate that facility in honor of Butts and his work, and he thanked the faculty of the college.
“It is the great commitment of the men and women who teach and work for the students of Old Westbury that has driven, and will continue to drive, this college to even greater heights,” Butts said.
Butts’ final day will be Jan. 21, 2020, according to a release from the university. No successor has been announced as of yet.