The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, the longest serving president in the history of SUNY Old Westbury, has announced his plans to step down early next year. He will go on study leave for the spring semester of 2020 and plans to return as professor of American Studies during the fall semester of the 2020-2021 academic year.
Dr. Butts was appointed to lead the college by SUNY trustees in 1999. During his 20-year career as president, the college earned accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and created its first-ever graduate programs, which now include degrees in accounting, adolescence education, childhood special education, literacy education, forensic accounting, and taxation.
Under President’s Butts leadership, the college’s enrollment greatly improved after experiencing sharp declines in the 1990s. Additionally, buildings all over campus have been renovated and a new academic center, a student union, and residence halls were built.
In addition to his presidency, Dr. Butts serves as the pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. He has previously served as an adjunct professor of urban affairs in the African Studies department at City College, part of the City University of New York. He has also taught a course in Black church history at Fordham University.
“It’s just time. Twenty years in a college presidency is a long time,” Dr. Butts said in an interview. “It’s been a joy, and it’s been a joy to be part of the state university system.”
Dr. Butts is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he majored in philosophy. He holds a master of divinity degree in church history from Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan, and a doctor of ministry degree in church and public policy from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.