Rev. Calvin O. Butts to Deliver Baccalaureate Address at The University of Pennsylvania

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Media Contact:Ken Wildes | | 215-898-8721April 17, 2000

PHILADELPHIA --- The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, pastor of The Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York, N.Y., and president of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, will be the keynote speaker at the Baccalaureate Service at the University of Pennsylvania on Sunday, May 21, according to an announcement by University President Judith Rodin.

The Baccalaureate Service will begin at 3 p.m. at Blanche P. Levy Park (College Green) on campus. It will be preceded by a brass concert at 2:15 p.m.

Dr. Butts is known for his commitment both to the daily activities and services of his congregation and the pervasive impact of the church on community development initiatives, such as homelessness, senior citizen and youth empowerment, cultural awareness and ecumenical outreach.

He was among the founders of Abyssinian Development Corporation, a comprehensive community-based organization responsible for more than $100 million in housing and commercial development in Harlem. He also has been instrumental in the establishment of the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change, a public intermediate high school under the direction of the Abyssinian Development Corporation.

Dr. Butts is president of the Council of Churches of the City of New York and vice chairman of the board of directors of the United Way of New York City. He is the chairman of the National Affiliate Development Initiative of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, and he is a founding member of the organization's board of commissioners.

Dr. Butts has served as president of Africare, New York, N.Y., and as chairman of the board of the Harlem Branch YMCA.

Dr. Butts has been instrumental in the boycotts of several New York institutions for their racist policies and employment discrimination. He has led an acclaimed campaign to eliminate negative billboard advertising in Central Harlem and other communities in New York City.

Dr. Butts also has been active in response to the issue of negative rap lyrics targeted against women and violence.

A native of New York, N.Y., he received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Morehouse College. He earned a Master of Divinity degree in church history from Union Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree in church and public policy from Drew University.

Dr. Butts is an adjunct professor at the City College of New York, and also has taught Black church history at Fordham University.

He is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities throughout America.

Dr. Butts has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the William M. Moss Distinguished Brotherhood Award and the Louise Fisher Morris Humanitarian Award.

Seamus Heaney, who received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature for "...works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past," will deliver the Commencement address and receive the Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, at the Commencement on Monday, May 22.

Honorary degrees also will be awarded to John N. Bahcall, Ph.D., Richard Black Professor of Natural Sciences at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton; Mary Douglas, D.Phil., retired professor of social anthropology at London University, and professor emerita of humanities at Northwestern University; Ronald Dworkin, LL.B., Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College, London, and Sommer Professor of Law and Philosophy at New York University; Wynton Marsalis, musician, composer and educator and artistic director of jazz at Lincoln Center; and The Honorable Edward G. Rendell (C '65), former Mayor of Philadelphia.