20 to be honored by the UB Alumni Association

Former SUNY trustee Gordon Gross, CNN's Wolf Blitzer among UB alumni and friends to be recognized

By Barbara A. Byers

Release Date: March 18, 2010

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Gordon Gross will receive the UB Alumni Association's highest honor, the Samuel P. Capen Award, on April 9.

Wolf Blitzer will be honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Alumni Association will honor a prominent local philanthropist and an internationally recognized journalist at the UB Alumni Association Achievement Awards ceremony to be held at 6:30 p.m. April 9 in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on the North Campus.

Attorney Gordon R. Gross, JD '55, will receive the UB Alumni Association's highest honor, the Samuel P. Capen Award, and CNN host Wolf Blitzer, BA '70, will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award. They are among the 11 individuals who will be honored, along with a UB alumni group, students and volunteers.

UB President John B. Simpson and UB Alumni Association President Larry Zielinski, MBA '77 & BA '75, will present the awards. A post-award reception will feature premium food stations, an open bar and entertainment in the Center for the Arts Atrium.

Tickets for the Alumni Association Achievement Awards are $75 per person and may be purchased online at http://www.alumni.buffalo.edu/events or by calling the UB Office of Alumni Relations at 1-800-284-5382.

Gross, of Eggertsville, N.Y., senior partner since 1959 in the law firm Gross, Shuman, Brizdle & Gilfillan P.C., has a long history of community activism and commitment to UB.

A member of the State University of New York Board of Trustees from 2001-08, Gross's significant gifts to UB include a $1 million donation to establish the first endowed professorship in the Institute for Jewish Thought and Heritage.

Working closely with UB and a group of local supporters on its creation, the institute was established in 2008 in the College of Arts and Sciences and is aligned with the university's strategic strength in Cultures and Texts that has been identified in the UB 2020 strategic plan being implemented by the university with the goal of rising among the ranks of the nation's public research universities. The institute's multidisciplinary research focuses scholarship on the critical role that Judaism has played in the development and communication of Western thought.

The institute will become a full-fledged department that will award undergraduate and advanced degrees and is the first of its kind within the SUNY system to establish master's and doctoral degree programs in the field of Jewish Studies.

"The university is the No. 1 economic engine in Western New York. Not only is it an important employer, but it spawns new businesses and attracts people to the region," Gross said. "I've seen for quite some time that the university is the future of this community, and the most important thing we can do for the growth of the community is to help grow the university. It's just that simple."

The UB Law School, School of Dental Medicine, School of Architecture and Planning and the Division of Athletics are among the units that have benefitted from his generosity. The Dr. Alan Gross Dental Student Fund was created to honor his late brother, whom the family lost to stomach cancer in 1998. The loss of his brother, who had three UB degrees, prompted Gross's involvement with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where he serves as a committee member for development and institute affairs and each year participates in the Ride for Roswell, becoming as its top fundraiser in 2009.

Blitzer will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award, given in recognition of exceptional career accomplishments, community or university service, or research and scholarly activity. The host of "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer," he received a SUNY honorary doctorate in humane letters in 1999, and in 2003 he endowed the UB David Blitzer Lecture Series in Jewish Studies in honor of his late father David, a Jewish Polish refugee.

Additional 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Richard J. Ablin, PhD '67, of Tucson, Ariz.; Laura L. Aikin, BFA '86, of Basiglio, Italy; and Margaret G. McGlynn, MBA '83 & BS '82, of Flourtown, Pa.

The Clifford C. Furnas Award, presented to engineering, natural sciences or mathematics alumni who have distinguished themselves in a field of science, is to be given to Norman R. McCombs, BA '68, of Tonawanda, N.Y.

Gary A. Baker, PhD '02, of Knoxville, Tenn., will receive the George W. Thorn Award, given to alumni under 40 in recognition of outstanding national or international contributions to their career field or academic area.

Reserved for non-alumni who have made notable and meritorious contributions to UB, the Walter P. Cooke Award will be presented to Janet H. Sung, MD, and John J. Sung of Clarence, N.Y.

The Dr. Richard T. Sarkin Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to William G. Wild Jr., MS '87, MA '85 & BS '83, of Buffalo, N.Y.

Dennis W. Elsenbeck, ME '96, of Orchard Park, N.Y., will be given the Community Leadership Medal for his outstanding volunteer accomplishments in making the community a better place to live and work.

The Dr. Philip B. Wels Award will be given to the University at Buffalo Dental Alumni Association, for its contributions to the university, academia, the community and the profession. Frank C. Barnashuk, PMCert '81 & DDS '80, of Orchard Park, N.Y., will accept the Wels Award on the association's behalf.

Four students will receive the J. Scott Fleming Scholarship, the only student-to-student award at UB. They are Olivia Cox, from Buffalo; Marc Huberfeld, from Amherst, N.Y.; South Korean native Tae Hyun Moon; and Getzville, N.Y., resident Kathryn Przybyla.

In appreciation of outstanding volunteer contributions to the university, Volunteer Recognition Awards will be presented to: Marc A. Adler, MA '83, MBA '82 & BA '79, of Williamsville, N.Y.; Catharine L. Dohn, MBA '79 & BS '76, of Williamsville, N.Y.; Michael J. Dray, BS '04, of Amherst, N.Y.; James C. McNally, EdM '68 & BS '66, of Orchard Park, N.Y.; and Frances M. Sansone, MS '91, of Eggertsville, N.Y.