Dr. Butts served as Pastor of the globally renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, and he served as President of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. Rev. Butts was married to Patricia Butts and had three children and six grandchildren.
Rev. Butts helped found & was the Chairman of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community-based, not-for-profit organization responsible for over $1 billion in housing and commercial development in Harlem. Dr. Butts was also instrumental in establishing the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change – a public, state-of-the-art, intermediate and high school in Harlem, and he was the visionary behind the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School.
During his presidential tenure at SUNY College – Old Westbury, Dr. Butts reinvigorated one of the most diverse public college campuses in America to its largest enrollment ever, adding full-time faculty and expanding student support services. Dr. Butts oversaw the College’s investment of approximately $150 million in capital projects, including technological advances, residence halls, a Student Union, and a major academic building.
Dr. Butts served as a member of the leadership board of New Visions for Public Schools. In September 2020, he was appointed President Emeritus of SUNY College at Old Westbury College, and served as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of the National Black Leadership Commission on Health (NBLCH), as well as a founding member of the organization’s Board of Commissioners.
The Reverend served as President of Africare NYC, an independent organization dedicated to the to the improvement of the quality of life in rural Africa, and was a member of the board of the September 11th Fund.
For his community activism, Dr. Butts received innumerable honors and commendations, including the United Negro College Fund’s Shirley Chisholm Community Service Award; The Medal for Distinguished Service from Teachers College, Columbia University and Man of the Year, Morehouse College Alumni Association. Dr. Butts received honorary degrees from Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the City University of New York/The City College of New York and many others.