Profile

Thomas William Butler ’58

Alumni, Executives and Leaders


 

Published:

April 2, 2012
Tagged: Derner School of Psychology, Garden City
 

Thomas William Butler ’58

Alumni, Executives and Leaders


 

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

Retired Health and Social Services Administrator

Involvement at Adelphi: “I ran indoor and outdoor track and cross country; I also played lacrosse my first two years. I was president of my fraternity, Alpha Phi Beta.”

Favorite professor: “Professor Catell, who was inspirational.”

Advice for Adelphi Students: “Put your whole heart and mind into life. Use your own mind for thinking.” 

Inspired to Provide a Better Quality of Life

After gaining over a decade’s worth of experience in the field of health and social services, Thomas William Butler’s passion came to light when he began working for Public Health Services as Regional Consultant for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, one of ten positions within the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This department is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

“I always knew I wanted to be a part of something I was proud of,” says Mr. Butler, who was inspired in part by the civil rights movement and the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his college years.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was divided into ten regions; Mr. Butler was located in New York City, the headquarters for Region II. Besides being in charge of about 100 employees, Mr. Butler oversaw a large budget of five billion dollars. Among his other responsibilities, he was to determine the need for community health programs in needy areas. “We were always looking for new programs to fund,” says Mr. Butler. This involved evaluating grant proposals, allocating money, and setting programs up with the money provided by Public Health Services.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dreams of equality and human rights rang true in many of Mr. Butler’s positions. During his 23 years working for the Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Butler did a little bit of everything, working to improve the quality of life for countless people. He held positions as Regional Supervisor for Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Co-Acting Director of Region II, Chief of Health Services and Primary Care Health Services, Chief of Planning, Evaluation, and Data Management Services, Acting Director of Grants Management, and Department Director of the Division of Health Services Delivery.

Mr. Butler has also written case studies and several articles that have been published in journals. He is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the Academy of Certified Social Workers, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign War, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World.

“I always wanted to help masses of people,” says Mr. Butler.

He has done just that.

Mr. Butler learned about Adelphi from Mrs. Hansen, one of his teachers at Manhasset High School on Long Island. Mrs. Hansen was a good friend of Ruth Harley, dean at Adelphi; she told Mr. Butler that Adelphi was a good school, and Ruth Harley was a good person. He knew he would be in good hands at Adelphi.

Mr. Butler, the first member of his family to go to college, started at Adelphi in 1952. Two years later he was drafted into the Army because of the Korean War. Normally, college students would receive a deferment, but when Mr. Butler went to the draft board to explain, he was told he still had to go. Rather than fighting the system, Mr. Butler decided he would serve his country. He planned to complete his service and return to Adelphi, which is exactly what he did after spending a year and a half in Germany.

“Adelphi expanded my horizons and opened my eyes,” says Mr. Butler, who was as busy outside the classroom as he was in it. He was on athletic and academic scholarships and worked part-time off campus catering and bartending- whatever it took to pay for tuition. He had no doubt in his mind that he needed a degree; he was determined to graduate. Upon graduation from Adelphi, Mr. Butler also completed a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University and a master’s degree in public administration from New York University.

Mr. Butler is proud to have instilled the value of education in his three children, all of whom have completed college degrees. He and his wife retired to Montauk, Long Island, after years of vacationing there. Mr. Butler enjoys coin collecting and reading as well as hiking, attending concerts, walking, and traveling. He also loves discussing politics.

 
Tagged: Derner School of Psychology, Garden City
 
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