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Alumni Life

Top of the Class

UB honors its most accomplished graduates, young and old

Kuo-Chun Chang, who came to UB from Taipei in 1979, swept his hand across his now-bare head and recalled that, back then, he was “full of hair.”

Kuo-Chun Chang, who came to UB from Taipei in 1979, swept his hand across his now-bare head and recalled that, back then, he was “full of hair.” Photo: Angela Connery

It was an evening of passion, humility and long-lost hairlines. The Alumni Association held its annual achievement awards on March 28, honoring 13 highly successful doers, thinkers, philanthropists and mavericks from around the world at a ceremony and reception at the Center for the Arts.

And the awards go to:

Fleetwood Mac

Allen Barnett (PhD ’65), founder of Buffalo-based Kinex Pharmaceuticals, which is involved in developing next-generation anticancer drugs (Distinguished Alumni Award)

Charles Bauer (MD ’46), long-time volunteer and donor with gifts totaling more than $1.6 million to the UB schools of medicine and management (Capen Award)

“After you’re dead, nobody can see all the fun you are having with the money. I believe in giving.”

Charles Bauer, on his giving-while-living philosophy

Tamara Brown (MS ’03), founder of Tech Savvy, a program that encourages middle school-aged girls to pursue fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Distinguished Alumni Award)

“YOU are the one the world is waiting for. You have value. You have ideas that we need.”

Tamara Brown, on what she tells teenage girls

Kuo-Chun Chang (PhD ’85, MS ’80), director of Taiwan’s National Center for Research on Earthquake Engineering (International Distinguished Alumni Award)

John Crassidis (PhD ’93, MS ’91, BS ’89), UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering (Sarkin Award)

“In my field, we are very gung-ho. We all knew—from the moment we took our first plane ride or saw our first shuttle launch—that we wanted to be either astronauts or pilots, or that we were going to build the rockets or planes.”

John Crassidis, on what drives aerospace engineers

Donna Fernandes, president and CEO of the Buffalo Zoo (Community Leadership Award)

Mark Hamister, chairman and CEO of The Hamister Group, a health care and hotel management company (Cooke Award)

Paul Hammer (BA ’78), UB Alumni Association board member and UB booster (Volunteer Recognition Award)

Janet Litster Rideout (PhD ’68), one of five scientists who share the patent for the AIDS drug azidothymidine, or AZT (Distinguished Alumni Award)

Steven Shepsman (BS ’75), executive managing director of New World Realty and a top volunteer on several UB academic and philanthropic campaigns (Wels Award)

“It’s an affordable, incredible research institution. ... Allowing everybody an opportunity to partake in this incredible environment is what this university is about. I’m so proud to be associated with this school.”

Steven Shepsman, on UB’s value

Jeffrey W. Umland (PhD ’91, BS ’85), chief mechanical engineer for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Mission, the team that conceived the Mars rover landing (Furnas Award)

“I’m hoping that we find building blocks of life … so we can start colonizing. We’re not going to be able to take all that with us.”

Jeffrey Umland, on what he hopes to find on Mars

Lesley Weitz (BS ’02), lead simulation modeling engineer at MITRE Corporation in Vienna, Va. (Thorn Award)

Jeffrey Wigand (PhD ’73, MA ’72 and BA ’69), former executive for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation who became a whistleblower in the industry and was featured in the 1999 film “The Insider” (Distinguished Alumni Award)

Cue the music

2 Requested time limit (in minutes) for acceptance speeches
4 Average length of said speeches
1.5 Shortest speech
17 Longest speech