UB's 162nd General Commencement Ceremony Set for May 11

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: May 1, 2008

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Robert Bennett will receive UB's highest honor, the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, at the commencement ceremony to be held May 11.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Robert M. Bennett, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents and former president and CEO of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, will receive the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, the University at Buffalo's highest award, during the university's 162nd general commencement ceremony, to be held at 10 a.m. May 11 in Alumni Arena, North Campus.

Robert J. Genco, UB vice provost and State University of New York Distinguished Professor, will receive the UB President's Medal in recognition of extraordinary service to UB.

Michael Batty, Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London and a former UB faculty member, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from SUNY during the ceremony. Maxine Hayes, M.D. '73, the state health officer for the Washington State Department of Health, will receive a SUNY honorary doctorate in science.

Some 5,400 students are candidates to receive degrees during the general commencement and 13 other commencement ceremonies to be held May 2, May 8-11 and May 17.

President John B. Simpson and graduating senior Quratulain Majoka will speak at the general commencement ceremony on May 11. Simpson and Satish K. Tripathi, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, will confer degrees.

Thirty-eight students will be recognized during the ceremony.

To receive the SUNY Chancellor's Awards for Student Excellence are Ashley Corliss, Jessica Colwell, Catherine Dunning, Jessica Minney, Rajavi Suresh Parikh, Alyssa Tevens and Christina Yacoob. Yacoob also will be recognized at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences ceremony on May 10. Otto Muller will be recognized at the graduate arts and sciences ceremony on May 9. Three students -- Katie Brewer, Ramanujam Prativadi and Jennifer Stabel -- will be recognized at the biomedical sciences ceremony on May 8. Kaitlyn Dudek and Tina Jacob will be recognized at the School of Management ceremony on May 10. Lauren Hammond and Deborah Liana will be recognized at the ceremonies for the schools of Nursing and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, respectively, both to be held on May 10.

During the general commencement ceremony, Winton Tran will receive the Division of Student Affairs Senior Leadership Award. Vocalists will be Kelly Jakiel and Travis Taber.

Twenty-eight graduates will receive the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Outstanding Senior Awards. They are Centrell O. Smith, African American studies; Jeffrey A. Shevlin, American studies; Cristiano Agostino, anthropology; Robert Vanwey, Asian studies; Tara Bancroft, biological sciences; Benjamin Silverman, chemistry; Leslie Karen Feldballe, classics; Lindsay Yost, communication; Sara Hochrad, communicative disorders and sciences; Ruby Parihar, economics; Jarret Rose, English; Chantal Englert, geography; James R. Noble, geology; Alexander C. Johnston, history; Julia Lasch, linguistics; Tracy L. Stepien, mathematics; Michael Robert Rose, media study; Jennifer O'Sullivan, music; Jeremy Skrzypek, philosophy; Alexander Luke Kitt, physics; Samantha A. Horn, political science; Morgan Samantha Gottfried, psychology; Katharine Facci, romance languages and literatures; Marissa DiGennaro, social sciences interdisciplinary; Cara M. Burns, sociology; Rajavi Parikh, special major; Kelly Jakiel, theatre and dance; and Christina E. Bettencourt, visual studies.

The Norton medal is presented annually in public recognition of a person who has, in Norton's words, "performed some great thing which is identified with Buffalo…a great civic or political act, a great book, a great work of art, a great scientific achievement or any other thing which, in itself, is truly great and ennobling, and which dignifies the performer and Buffalo in the eyes of the world."

As chancellor of the Board of Regents, Norton Medal recipient Robert Bennett is the leader for education across all levels and all locales in New York State. He has focused attention on high-quality education for all of New York's students. First elected to the board in 1995 by the state Legislature, he is serving a third five-year term.

Prior to his service on the Board of Regents, Bennett served for 23 years with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, the last 15 as president and CEO. Under his leadership, the United Way developed numerous initiatives to strengthen the community at large and assist the region's most vulnerable and at-risk individuals, with a particular focus on programs to provide the region's youngest children with educational and life success, and programs to bolster learning conditions and academic achievement in the local schools.

The UB President's Medal, first presented in 1990, recognizes "outstanding scholarly or artistic achievements, humanitarian acts, contributions of time or treasure, exemplary leadership or any other major contribution to the development of the University at Buffalo and the quality of life in the UB community."

Over the course of four decades of distinguished service to UB, Robert J. Genco has provided key administrative leadership in advancing the university's strategic planning and research endeavors, while earning international renown for his prominent scholarship in the field of oral biology and periodontal disease.

He directs the UB Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), the primary commercialization and technology transfer office at UB, and has received numerous honors for his groundbreaking research on the relationship between periodontal disease and many chronic systemic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

As the Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London -- Britain's most prestigious endowed chair in the planning field -- and director of its world-renowned Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), Michael Batty is one of the world's most highly regarded authorities on computer-based urban planning and design.

He directed the National Science Foundation's National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis at UB from 1990-95, helping to make the center into an internationally prominent facility. A fellow of the British Academy, Batty continues to return to UB to deliver lectures and take on geographic information science students to work on short-term research assignments.

Washington State's top public health physician, Maxine Hayes advises the governor and the secretary of health on issues ranging from health promotion and chronic disease prevention, to emergency response, including pandemic influenza preparedness. She also works closely with the medical community, local health departments and community groups.

Named the 1999 Distinguished Alumna of the Year by the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, she serves as a clinical faculty member specializing in pediatrics at the University of Washington, She received the UB Medical School Alumni Association's Stockton Kimball Award in 2000. A fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, she was inducted into the Institute of Medicine in 2007.

In addition to the general commencement ceremony, UB will hold 13 other commencement ceremonies:

• School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, 2 p.m., May 2, Center for the Arts, North Campus. William A. Peck, director of the Center for Health Policy, Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine and dean emeritus, Washington University School of Medicine, will speak. Simpson will confer degrees.

• Biomedical Sciences, 6 p.m., May 8, Center for the Arts. This ceremony recognizes graduate and undergraduate students in the biomedical sciences, including special studies majors. The speaker will be William A. Catterall, professor and chair, Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington. Simpson will confer degrees.

• Graduate School of Education, 9 a.m., May 9, Center for the Arts. Simpson will confer degrees.

• Graduate Arts and Sciences, 1 p.m., May 9, Center for the Arts. Simpson will confer degrees.

• School of Nursing, 9 a.m., May 10, Alumni Arena, North Campus. UB alumna Connie Vari, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Kaleida Health, will speak. Simpson will confer degrees.

• School of Social Work, 9 a.m., May 10, Center for the Arts. The speaker will be Lisa Bloch Rodwin, chief of the Erie County District Attorney's Domestic Violence Bureau. Tripathi will confer degrees.

• School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 1 p.m., Alumni Arena. Tripathi will confer degrees.

• School of Public Health and Health Professions, 1 p.m., May 10, Center for the Arts. The speaker will be former UB faculty member Germaine M. Buck-Louis, senior investigator and chief of the epidemiology branch, Division of Epidemiology, Statistics and Prevention Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. David Dunn, vice president for health sciences, will confer degrees.

• School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 1 p.m., May 10, Lippes Concert Hall, Slee Hall, North Campus. John Kapoor, Ph.D. '72, chairman and CEO, E.J. Financial Enterprises Inc., will speak. Simpson will confer degrees.

• School of Architecture and Planning, 2 p.m., May 10, Hayes Hall lawn, South Campus. Michael Ryan, vice provost and dean for undergraduate education, will confer degrees.

• School of Management, 5 p.m., May 10, Alumni Arena. Tripathi will confer degrees.

• School of Dental Medicine, 5 p.m., May 10, Center for the Arts. Dunn will confer degrees.

• Law School, 3 p.m., May 17, Center for the Arts. The speaker will be Robert W. Gordon, Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History, Yale Law School. Lucinda Finley, vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of law, will confer degrees.