Butler University to award honorary doctorate to retired WFYI CEO and president Lloyd Wright

The Winter Commencement will be held on Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m. Photo courtesy of WFYI.

KATIE FREEMAN | STAFF REPORTER | kmfreema@butler.edu

Lloyd Wright, retired CEO and president of WFYI, will be receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Butler University’s 2019 Winter Commencement, where he will also deliver commencement remarks.

Wright retired this past July after serving as CEO and president for 31 years at WFYI, Indianapolis’ public radio, TV and news station.

Typically, universities will award an honorary doctorate of humane letters to individuals who have distinguished themselves through their work in the humanities and related areas or their contributions to society in general. These honorary doctorates are not equivalent to an earned academic degree.

Andy Klotz, the director of marketing and promotion for WFYI, worked with Wright for several years.

“I think Lloyd is a fabulous recipient for this kind of honor because he has virtually dedicated his life to public media in Indiana,” Klotz said. “He has built incredible relationships within the community and been a driving force behind Hoosier stories being told.”

As an Indianapolis native, Wright has a number of personal connections to Butler. 

“I have a lifelong affection for Butler,” Wright said. “Growing up on the southside of Indy and being a basketball fan, our dad would take us to Butler [Hinkle] Fieldhouse. We’ve [WFYI] done a lot of partnerships and collaborations throughout the years.”

Though Wright graduated from Indiana University, his son attended Butler as a chemistry major.

“I’m really proud that my son is a 2010 graduate,” Wright said. “He had such a great experience at Butler, and I got to witness that, and so that’s in our family.”

Under Wright’s leadership, WFYI entered into a partnership with Butler around the early 2000s to manage their TV station, WTBU. Butler ultimately sold the TV station, which ended the partnership, but Wright said it was a great experience.

Butler chooses its commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients through a process of nomination and a subsequent review and vetting process.

Wright first learned that he would be the recipient of this doctorate during lunch while he was introducing Butler President James Danko to the new president and CEO of WFYI.

“I was totally surprised,” Wright said. “I had no idea that [the doctorate] was even a consideration, and so I was sort of taken aback…It was very nice and thoughtful. I was quite blessed by it, but very surprised.”

Danko said the reason Butler chose Wright as the recipient of this honorary doctorate in a Butler Newsroom article. 

“In choosing honorary degree recipients and speakers, Butler selects individuals whose lives reflect our university’s core values and whose message can positively impact our students,” Danko said. “Lloyd Wright embodies not only the calculated risk-taking we encourage in our students, but our values of innovation and visionary leadership.”

Emily Efroymson, a sophomore software engineering major, interned at WFYI this semester and met with staff members to help create a webpage for the company.

“I heard his [Wright’s] name mentioned a few times while I was there for my internship,” Efroymson said. “It was always nothing but positive comments.”

According to a Butler Newsroom article, WFYI has seen over 120 regional Emmy awards and over 300 nominations, as well as three capital campaigns that raised over $34 million in total during Wright’s career.

Wright’s resume lists 20 different honors and awards, including being awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash twice, inducted into the Silver Circle Hall of Fame and a Hoosier Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award.

Butler’s 2019 Winter Commencement will take place in Clowes Memorial Hall on Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

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