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Three at UB Named SUNY Distinguished Professors

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: May 11, 2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Three faculty members at the University at Buffalo have joined the ranks of distinguished professors appointed by the State University of New York Board of Trustees.

Elizabeth Mensch, professor in the UB Law School, and Charles E. Mitchell, professor and chair of the Department of Geology in the College of Arts and Sciences, have been named Distinguished Teaching Professors in recognition of outstanding teaching at the graduate, undergraduate and professional levels.

David M. Engel, professor in the UB Law School, has been named a Distinguished Service Professor in recognition of extraordinary service to the community, region, state, nation or world.

The rank of distinguished professor, the highest faculty rank in the SUNY system, is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.

Elizabeth Mensch joined the UB law faculty in 1980 after a stint on the faculty of the University of Miami Law School. She teaches courses in legal history; church/state relations; abortion, and law, morality and politics, as well as contracts and torts -- courses that are required of all first-year law students. She also teaches a section of the undergraduate course in "American Pluralism."

Mensch co-authored, with her late husband, Alan Freeman, also a UB professor of law, the book "The Politics of Virtue: Is Abortion Debatable?," which advocates introducing theological thought into the public debate on abortion to bring about a compromise between the two sides of the volatile issue. They also co-authored a text on property law. She has authored and co-authored numerous book chapters, articles in legal journals, essays, reviews and commentaries.

She also serves as chair of the Board of Editors of the Journal of Law and Religion.

Mensch received a bachelor's degree from the New School for Social Research, a master of arts in teaching from Cornell University, a law degree from UB and a master's degree in law from Harvard University.

She resides in Buffalo.

A UB faculty member since 1983, paleontologist Charles Mitchell directs the Department of Geology's Stratigraphy and Paleontology Research Group, an interdisciplinary research group composed of stratigraphers, paleontologists, geochemists and structural geologists working on a number of projects, both locally and throughout the world.

Mitchell's research focuses on the paleobiology, systematics and evolutionary history of graptolites, an extinct group of colonial organisms; the correlation of Middle and Upper Ordovician rocks based on their graptolite and conodont faunas, and collaborative projects employing stratigraphy, biostratigraphy, geochemistry, structural geology and tectonics aimed at deciphering the history of sedimentary basins and their causes.

One of his current projects involves a collaboration with a geology graduate student on developing a computational method to morph deformed fossils back to their original shapes by calculating and excising the deformation.

He has authored or co-authored numerous scholarly publications and delivered presentations at professional meetings.

He is a recipient of a SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, a Milton Plesur Award for Excellence in Teaching from the UB undergraduate Student Association and a Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching from the former UB Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

He received a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University, master's degrees from the University of Western Ontario and Harvard University, and a doctorate from Harvard, where renowned paleontologist Stephen J. Gould served as his advisor.

He resides in Kenmore.

Director of international programs in the UB Law School, David Engel is the faculty advisor to the Asian Law Students Association and is a member of UB's Council on International Studies and Programs and its Asian Studies Advisory Council, which he chaired from 1999-2001.

His research focuses on law and society in the U.S. and in other countries, particularly Thailand, where he has lived, worked and taught for more than 35 years. He has studied litigation, conflict and legal consciousness in communities in the American Midwest and in Thailand, where he currently is working on an interview-based study of injuries and social change in the country.

Engel also has conducted research on the impact of special education law on the families of children with disabilities and their interactions with school district administrators. He has co-authored with Frank Munger, UB professor of law, a book, "Rights of Inclusion: Law and Identity in the Life Stories of Americans with Disabilities," that examines the effects of legal rights created by the Americans with Disabilities Act on the lives and careers of those with disabilities.

Engel, who joined the UB law faculty in 1985, was director of the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy from 1991-2001, and also served as vice dean for interdisciplinary studies.

He is an active member of the Law & Society Association, an international membership organization of which he served as president from 1997-98. He also has served as a member of the advisory panel of the National Science Foundation Program for Law and Social Sciences.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and master's and law degrees from the University of Michigan.

Engel lives in Amherst.