About Our 2021 Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients
On Thursday, May 13, we look forward to virtually congratulating the 2021 graduating class on the completion of their degrees in the College of Liberal Arts, the Theological School and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Our 153rd Drew University Commencement ceremony will feature an impressive speaker—the Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts III T’82, senior pastor of the renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, NY and President Emeritus of SUNY College at Old Westbury—and, as named by Drew’s Board of Trustees, the conferral of honorary degrees to Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour and Contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, and the Rev. Alfred T. Day III, recent past General Secretary of the General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church.
The Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III is Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, and President Emeritus of the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Old Westbury. Dr. Butts was the longest-serving president in the history of Old Westbury, a role he held for 20 years before leaving his day-to-day responsibilities in January 2020. A native New Yorker, Dr. Butts spent a few years in the South, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. He returned to New York and earned a Master of Divinity in Church History from Union Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Ministry in Church and Public Policy from Drew University. The Reverend was conferred with honorary degrees from Morehouse; The City College of New York; Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL; Claflin College of Orangeburg, SC; Dillard University, New Orleans, LA; Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA; and Trinity College, Hartford, CT.Dr. Butts was an Urban Affairs instructor, and served as an Adjunct Professor in the African Studies Department at New York’s City College. He also taught Black Church History at Fordham University, and continues to lecture and speak at colleges, universities and various organizations throughout the United States and abroad.
Widely known for his lifelong advocacy for social justice and civil rights, Dr. Butts serves as chair of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community-based nonprofit responsible for more than $1 billion in housing and commercial development in Harlem. Dr. Butts also helped establish the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change, a public middle and high school in Harlem, and is the visionary behind the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School.
In addition to his professional and religious avocations, Dr. Butts is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), as well as a Board member of New Visions for Public Schools. He also served as Chairman of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), was a founding member of the organization’s Board of Commissioners and was a member of the Board of Trustees of American Baptist College in Nashville, TN.
Throughout his tenure at Abyssinian, Dr. Butts has spearheaded numerous boycotts against institutions that practice racist policies and employment discrimination. Dr. Butts was also instrumental in establishing a church- administered legal defense fund, which is used to assist members of the Abyssinian congregation and the local community in covering legal expenses.
Dr. Butts is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Shirley Chisholm Community Service Award; Man of the Year Award from Morehouse College Alumni Association; Morehouse College Candle Award; induction into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers (Morehouse College); the William M. Moss Distinguished Brotherhood Award; and the Louise Fisher Morris Humanitarian Award. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Prince Hall Masons (having received the 33rd final degree in Masonry), and was recognized as a Living Treasure by the New York City Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
White House Correspondent, PBS NewsHour
Contributor, NBC News and MSNBC
Yamiche Alcindor is the White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, a role she began in January 2018. She often tells stories about the intersection of race and politics as well as fatal police encounters.
Alcindor is also a contributor for NBC News and MSNBC often appearing on a number of shows including Morning Joe, Andrea Mitchell Reports, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.
Previously, Alcindor worked as a national political reporter for The New York Times where she covered the presidential campaigns of Mr. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders as well as Congress. She also wrote about the impact of President Donald Trump’s policies on working-class people and people of color.
Before joining The Times, she was a national breaking news reporter for USA Today and traveled across the country to cover stories including the school shooting in Newtown, CT, the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL and the police-related protests in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD. Alcindor’s overall goal is to be a civil rights journalist, and she was inspired by the late PBS NewsHour anchor Gwen Ifill.
In 2020, Alcindor was named the recipient of RTDNA’s John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award, IWMF’s Gwen Ifill Award and the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and was named the organization’s 2020 “Journalist of the Year.” Alcindor has also been honored with the Ifill Next Generation Award by Simmons University and NextGen Leader Award by the Georgetown Entertainment & Media Alliance. In 2017, she won an award in a tribute to Ifill during Syracuse University’s Toner Prize ceremony. NABJ also named Alcindor its “Emerging Journalist of the Year” in 2013.
Alcindor earned a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University and a bachelor’s in English, government and African American studies from Georgetown University.
From 2005 to 2014, Day served as the pastor at Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The church is the oldest United Methodist Church in the United States still currently in use. While pastor at Historic St. George’s, he organized and participated in historic reunion services and shared ministries between Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church, Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, and Mother African Zoar (2009 -2014).
Day has also served as an adjunct professor in United Methodist studies at Garrett- Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois and at Princeton Theological Seminary (2011-14).
An ordained elder in the Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church, Rev. Day has held appointments across the state and served as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional conferences. Day was Senior Pastor at the First United Methodist in Germantown. He served for six years as District Superintendent of the Asbury-Anthracite District of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. He was Pastor of the Mount Pocono United Methodist Church in Mount Pocono, PA, and Pastor of the Rehoboth and Central United Methodist Churches in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. Day was ordained a Deacon in 1974 and an Elder in 1976.
Day received his Bachelor of Science from Houghton College in 1972, his Master of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts in 1975, with additional graduate work at Temple University and Drew University, in Liturgical Studies.In February 2021, the University Board of Trustees officially designated Day as a representative trustee for Bishop Peggy Johnson, on behalf of the Philadelphia area of the United Methodist Church. By virtue of holding office as a bishop administering the New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia Areas of the United Methodist Church, Day is a University Trustee for the duration of his assignment.