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Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III Joins Fordham Graduate School of Education as Distinguished Visiting Professor


The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, longtime pastor of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, passed away Friday, October 28 at the age of 73. The Rev. Dr. Butts served as a distinguished visiting professor in the Fordham Graduate School of Education’s Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy Division (ELAP) during the spring 2022 semester.

José Luis Alvarado, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Education, stated, “We mourn the loss of Dr. Butts today. He made innumerable lasting contributions to how we understand the social, educational, religious, and ethical issues of our time. Our students are fortunate indeed that they experienced his wisdom and insights as an inspirational educational leader. The legacy of Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III will endure as part of our mission to help develop transformational educational leaders.”

Fordham University Graduate School of Education is pleased to announce that Reverend Calvin O. Butts III, D.Min., will join its faculty as a distinguished visiting professor in the Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy Division (ELAP). Starting this spring 2022 semester, Butts will teach in the ELAP division, and will support programs in the GSE’s Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education.

Education and faith are the hallmarks of Reverend Butts’ ministry in his service as pastor of the nationally renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. From 1999 to 2021, Butts was President of the State University of New York at Old Westbury.

Butts also previously served as president of the Council of Churches of the City of New York (1998-2008); chairman of the Harlem branch of the YMCA of Greater New York; vice-chair of The Board of Directors of United Way of New York City; member of The Central Park Conservancy Board; and on many other prominent boards. He was Chairman of the Board and Chair of the National Affiliate Development Initiative of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), and a founding member of the organization’s Board of Commissioners. He is currently co-chair of Choose Healthy Life, a collaboration of Black churches working to fight against COVID-19.

A native of New York City, Butts earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA; a Master of Divinity degree in church history from Union Theological Seminary (NYC), and a Doctor of Ministry in church and public policy from Drew University, Madison, NJ. He taught urban affairs and served as an adjunct professor in the African Studies Department at City College, New York, and Black Church history at Fordham University.

Butts is founder and present chairman of the Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC), a not-for-profit, comprehensive community-based organization responsible for over $600 million in housing and commercial developments in Harlem. Further, he is the founding spirit in the establishment of Harlem’s Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change, plus the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School.

José Luis Alvarado, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Education, stated, “Dr. Butts is a sought-after speaker on social, educational, religious, and ethical issues, and Fordham is delighted to welcome him as a distinguished visiting professor in the Graduate School of Education.”

Reverend Butts added, “I am honored for the invitation to join the Graduate School of Education faculty at Fordham University — one of New York’s premier institutions of higher education. I seek to use my experience to inspire students in the areas of education and faith, and consider it a privilege to return to teaching at Fordham under its current administration and dynamic leadership.”

Margaret T. Orr, Ed.D., GSE ELAP chair shared, “Dr. Butts has an enormous range of experience as a social justice, religious and educational leader; he will enrich our programs and faculty and student experiences. We are grateful for the opportunity to have him serve as a distinguished visiting professor in our division and look forward to opportunities to work and learn with him, and to engage his wisdom and expertise as we pursue our mission of developing transformational leaders who serve all students and schools well.”

And finally, Gerald Cattaro, Ed.D., director of GSE’s Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education, noted, “Our graduate students and doctoral candidates have much to gain from the wisdom and insights of such an inspirational leader.”

Fordham’s Graduate School of Education offers more than 40 master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs in nearly three dozen fields of study. Faculty within the school are renowned teachers/scholars in educational leadership, counseling and counseling psychology, school psychology, and teacher education.


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