Kathryn G. “Katie” Betley, long-time Butler University Trustee and Indianapolis community leader; Leonard J. “Len” Betley, lawyer and philanthropist (posthumous); Reverend Marvin Chandler, Civil Rights activist, Indianapolis Jazz musician, and lecturer in the Jordan College of the Arts; and Everett F. Greene, Sr., legendary Indianapolis Jazz musician and lecturer in the Jordan College of the Arts, will receive honorary degrees during Butler University’s Spring Commencement ceremonies on May 5, 2023, at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
In selecting honorary degree recipients, Butler University strives to celebrate individuals whose life and work reflect the University’s core values and who have made tremendous accomplishments in the areas of scholarship, creativity, and public service, therefore significantly benefiting or enriching a particular group or enhancing our larger society.
Len and Katie Betley together have been instrumental to Butler University’s growth and success by forging the important relationship between Butler University and the Fairbanks Foundation, which has provided the support necessary to transform Butler’s campus and academic offerings. A passionate philanthropist and servant leader, Katie has served the Butler University Board of Trustees in a variety of leadership roles for more than 40 years. In addition to her long-standing service to Butler, she has been an integral community leader across central Indiana. Her resume of civic engagement includes Board positions at organizations such as Community Hospitals, Inc., the United Way of Central Indiana, the Indiana State Museum Foundation, Indiana Sports Corp, and the Indianapolis Zoological Society, just to name a few. Her dedication to the greater community has not gone unnoticed; she has received countless honors and awards including the Hoosier Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award, membership in the Indiana Academy, and B’nai B’rith Woman of the Year.
Although Len Betley passed away earlier this year at the age of 89, his incredible legacy lives through his generous and extensive philanthropic and civic engagement. A lawyer by trade, Len became a managing partner at the firm that is now known as Ice Miller following his graduation from the University of Michigan Law School and Yale University. He served as president and CEO of private foundations that truly transformed the City of Indianapolis and the lives of Hoosiers, including the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, the Regenstrief Institute and Foundation, and the Walther Cancer Foundation. Len’s work also culminated in the creation of the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park at Newfields and the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI.
Jazz musicians Reverend Marvin Chandler and Everett Greene will also receive honorary degrees in recognition of their impact on the cultural heritage of Indianapolis in addition to their dedication and service to countless Butler University students in the Jordan College of the Arts.
Reverend Marvin Chandler, a native of Bloomington, Indiana, found success in music very early in his life, performing at events like the Indiana State Fair and appearing on TV and radio programs with his sisters as the Chandler Trio. As a young adult, Chandler became active in his church community, which ultimately led to significant social justice work during his celebrated career as a pastor and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Reverend Chandler walked alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, in the March on Washington and was integral in reconciliation discussions following riots in Rochester in 1964 and the Attica Prison Uprising in 1971. After serving as a pastor in San Francisco, Chandler and his family returned to Indiana, where he began spending more time playing jazz music and recording albums. Chandler joined the Gilfoy Trio and the Naptown Jazz Quartet and often performed with other influential artists, including Everett Greene, and greatly influenced the rich heritage of Indianapolis’ jazz scene.
Everett Francis Greene, Sr., born in 1934 in Washington, DC, started singing in school quartets as a young child. He continued to perform throughout his adolescence and young adulthood, even during his tenure in the Marine Corps. After serving abroad in Korea, Greene’s voice echoed through Indianapolis’ historic Indiana Avenue corridor in the 1950s, when he spent time visiting the area’s jazz clubs with his mother. Everett began a family in Indianapolis while working in industrial manufacturing. When he retired, he began pursuing his professional music career. Greene expanded the traditional bass-baritone range to sing at a higher range, making a name for himself because of his unique voice. He has since recorded multiple albums, performed with a variety of jazz orchestras, and has co-starred in several national theatre productions–even receiving an Emmy award for his role in the television special Precious Memories: Strolling 47th Street. Greene has served as a lecturer and guest artist in the Jordan College of the Arts and continues to be an inspiration to Butler students, faculty, and staff.
“We are proud to celebrate four individuals who have changed the past, present, and future of Butler University and the larger Indianapolis community,” Butler University President James Danko said. “They have each contributed their unique talents, selfless service, and remarkable generosity. By bestowing honorary degrees upon them, we recognize and celebrate the transformational support they have provided to the Butler University community.”