University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
Official UB news and information for the media

Beecher, Takeuchi to Receive UB's Highest Honor at 164th Commencement on May 9

Professor Robert Shibley to be presented with President's Medal

Release Date: April 27, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Thomas R. Beecher Jr., JD '59, chairman of the board of Barrantys LLC, and Esther S. Takeuchi, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Greatbatch Professor in Power Sources Research in the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, will receive the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, UB's highest award, during the university's 164th general commencement on May 9.

Robert G. Shibley, professor of architecture and urban and regional planning, and senior advisor to the president on campus planning and design, will receive the UB President's Medal in recognition of extraordinary service to UB.

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."

Thomas Beecher is a founder and first chairman of the board of directors of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), a nonprofit corporation established to cultivate a world-class medical campus in downtown Buffalo. Under his leadership, and in partnership with its member institutions, the BNMC has implemented a master plan for development of the Buffalo Life Sciences Complex and for scientific recruitment and entrepreneurial development on the medical campus.

As board chairman of Buffalo General Hospital from 1991-94, Beecher helped lay the groundwork for the hospital's merger with Millard Fillmore and Women and Children's hospitals into the Kaleida Health System. He chaired that system's board in 1999 and 2000.

He co-founded BISON, the Buffalo Inner-City Scholarship Opportunity Network, which funds scholarships for low-income students seeking private secondary education. A 1959 graduate of the UB Law School, he served on the boards of directors of Canisius College and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Esther Takeuchi joined the UB faculty in 2007 after a 22-year career as a scientist at Greatbatch Inc. Her development of the lithium/silver vanadium oxide battery while at Greatbatch was a major factor in bringing implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) into production in the late 1980s. ICDs shock the heart into a normal rhythm when it goes into fibrillation.

Takeuchi often is cited as the woman awarded the most patents in the U.S. -- more than 140 at last count -- most of them related to her pioneering development of sophisticated power sources for implantable devices, now a booming multibillion-dollar business. Named to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering in 2004, she is one of just 104 women elected to the organization, considered the highest distinction that an engineering professional can achieve. Less than 5 percent of the academy's 2,400 active members are women.

Takeuchi is the first UB faculty member to receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, which is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It recognizes individuals or companies for outstanding contributions to the promotion of technology for the improvement of the economic, environmental or social well being of the United States.

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."

As senior advisor to the president on campus planning and design, Robert Shibley led the effort to create a comprehensive physical plan for UB's three campuses in support of the UB 2020 strategic plan. He also serves as chair of UB's Environmental Stewardship Committee, overseeing the university's efforts to achieve climate neutrality in accordance with the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment signed by President John B. Simpson in 2007.

Shibley recently was named Campus Architect, a position in which he will serve as senior advisor to the UB president for all matters relating to the physical character and quality of UB's campuses, including architecture, design, planning and sustainability.

Shibley joined the UB faculty in 1982 as a full professor and chair of the Department of Architecture in the School of Architecture and Planning. In 1990, he founded The Urban Design Project, a university center that brings faculty and urban design students together with local governments, community-based organizations and citizens in general to build better places and stronger communities. Under his leadership, UDP has developed an award-winning ensemble of plans for the City of Buffalo, including plans for downtown, the waterfront, the Olmsted parks and the first city-wide comprehensive plan in more than half a century.

Shibley is the author of 11 books, including "Placemaking: The Art and Practice of Building Communities," with his partner, Lynda Schneekloth, UB professor emerita of architecture; and "Timesaver Standards for Urban Design."

Media Contact Information

Christine Vidal
Director of News Content
Community Engagement, International Education
Tel: 716-645-4607
vidal@buffalo.edu