Release Date: March 20, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Among the 236,000 University at Buffalo alumni around the world, only a select few are recognized by the University at Buffalo Alumni Association (UBAA) each year. This year, honorees include Venkat Panchapakesan (MS ’90), head of engineering for YouTube, and Rear Adm. Rebecca McCormick-Boyle (BS ’81), commander of the Navy Medicine Education and Training Command at Fort Sam Houston.
Steven Guttenberg (DDS ’69, BA ’65) will accept the association’s highest honor, the Samuel P. Capen Award, during the ceremony at 6 p.m. March 27 in the Center for the Arts on the UB North Campus. UB President Satish K. Tripathi and UBAA President Carol Gloff (BS ’75) will present the awards. A post-award reception will feature premium food stations, an open bar and entertainment in the CFA atrium.
Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased online at www.alumni.buffalo.edu/events or by calling the UB Office of Alumni Relations at 1-800-284-5382.
A board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Washington, D.C., Guttenberg is president of the Washington Institute for Mouth, Face and Jaw Surgery. He and his wife, Diana Guttenberg, have pledged the largest gift ever to the UB School of Dental Medicine. The speaker at the school’s 2014 commencement, Guttenberg is a past recipient of the District of Columbia Dental Society’s prestigious Sterling V. Mead Award. He is a senior attending surgeon and teaching staff member at the Washington Hospital Center. He also is a diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and immediate past president of the American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
Downloadable photos of all of this year’s UBAA honorees are available here: http://ubnews.smugmug.com/2015/Alumni-Awards.
Venkat Panchapakesan (MS ’90) will receive the Clifford C. Furnas Memorial Award, presented to engineering, natural sciences or mathematics alumni who have distinguished themselves in a field of science. Eight years after earning his UB degree, Panchapakesan joined Yahoo!, then a small company of just 200 employees. During his 12 years there, the company grew to 14,000 employees and its revenue ballooned from $208 million to $7.8 billion. A holder of many Internet-related patents, Panchapakesan also has served as vice president of engineering at Google, where oversaw the technology behind applications like Gmail, Drive and Calendar. In June 2014, he was named head of engineering at YouTube, a Google company, where he oversees technology powering the site for its 1 billion users. As a member of the School of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council, Panchapakesan has advocated for UB strengthening its relationships with the Indian alumni population and has worked to form bonds between the university and the industry at large.
Rear Adm. Rebecca McCormick-Boyle (BS 81) of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award. She is deputy chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine, Education and Training, and commander, Navy Medicine Education and Training Command. She is also director of the Navy Nurse Corps. After joining the Navy in 1991, she went on to serve in nursing posts of increasing responsibility at several locations, including the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland; Naval Hospital, Okinawa, Japan; and Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She credits UB with providing her with a strong educational foundation that prepared her for her career. A Griffin Mills, New York, native, McCormick-Boyle received UB Nursing’s distinguished alumni award in 2013.
Other recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award are Arthur Goshin (MD ’70, BS ’66) of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Paul Nussbaum (BA ’67) of Bonita Springs, Florida.
Arthur Goshin (MD ’70, BS ’66) co-founder of the health maintenance organization Univera Health, served as president and CEO for 27 years before stepping down in 2003 to create what is now the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, which collaborates with community members in 16 counties to improve health care for frail elders and young children living in poverty. He later founded and is president and CEO of the HealthyWorld Foundation, a group that supports health projects in some of the poorest areas of Uganda and India. Goshin also has maintained his 44-year professional partnership with UB, serving in various roles in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.
Paul Nussbaum (BA ’67) is founder and chair of Waramaug Hospitality, a private real estate firm that specializes in the acquisition of hotels and resorts. He is chairman emeritus of Wyndham International, successor to Patriot American Hospitality, of which Nussbaum was founder, chair and CEO. Nussbaum took Patriot American Hospitality from ownership of one hotel in 1992 to becoming the fourth-largest hospitality company in the United States with $7 billion in total capitalization. After graduating from UB, Nussbaum earned a JD from Georgetown University Law School. He serves on numerous corporate, academic and charitable boards, including the UB College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council.
The International Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Alejandro Rivera Becerra (PhD ’01, ME ’98, MS ’93) of Chihuahua, Mexico. A distinguished diplomat for Mexico, Rivera Becerra became interested in environmental protection after seeing the serious pollution caused by manufacturing along the Mexico-U.S. border. Determined to use his education to help his home country, Rivera Becerra earned a master’s degree in diplomatic relations and passed Foreign Service exams, then joined Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2003. He served as deputy consul general at his country’s consulate in China, and as trade and cooperation officer at the Mexican embassy in Ecuador. Today, he directs environmental governance and is Mexico’s chief negotiator at the United Nations on issues of climate change.
The Walter P. Cooke Award, which recognizes notable and meritorious contributions to the university and its family by non-alumni, will be given to Stephanie Mucha of Buffalo, New York. Mucha worked for more than four decades as a licensed practical nurse at the Buffalo Veterans Administration Hospital, where she witnessed William Chardack, MD, and UB alumnus and inventor Wilson Greatbatch demonstrate the first implantable pacemaker. Mucha and her husband later bought shares in Medtronic, the company licensed in 1961 to manufacture the device. Having no children of their own, the couple agreed to someday provide scholarship support to UB students. After her husband died, Mucha, a self-taught investor, carried out their plan, contributing significantly to the university and its schools of dental medicine, engineering, medicine and nursing, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Mucha is one of 100 people awarded a Purple Heart for Humanitarian Service for caring for America’s war veterans.
The Richard T. Sarkin Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to Dale Fish (PhD ’82) of Fairport, New York. Fish retired from UB in December 2014, concluding a 40-year career at the university, most recently as senior associate dean for academic and student affairs, and associate professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science. More than 6,000 students in three programs — physical therapy, occupational therapy and exercise science — were fortunate to have Fish as their professor for the intensive Gross Human Anatomy course, which he taught for three decades. The recipient of several awards, Fish is lauded by colleagues for his ability to connect with students in the classroom. One colleague remarked: “Many academicians focus on scholarship, neglecting teaching and service. Fish has gone against the grain for much of his career, striving for excellence in teaching and service, while also pursuing scholarship.”
Alfred Caffiero of Williamsville, New York, will be presented with the Community Leadership Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the Western New York community. A co-founder of Western New York Physical and Occupational Therapy, Caffiero has had a distinguished career as one of the most prominent physical therapists in the area. He also taught UB students in orthopedics until he was diagnosed with ALS in the early 1990s. Caffiero still volunteers as a subject for UB physical therapy research. A scholarship he helped create in 2001 for physical therapy doctoral (DPT) students has been awarded to 25 students to date. He also established and funds the DPT white coat ceremony held prior to students’ first clinical internships. Caffiero has dedicated his life to improving treatment and education in the physical therapy field, touching thousands through his work as a healer, teacher and friend.
Mark Travers (PhD ’08, MS ’05) of Hamburg, New York, will receive the George W. Thorn Award, given to distinguished alumni under 40. A research assistant professor in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, Travers’ work to reveal the dangers of secondhand smoke has helped people throughout the world literally breathe easier. He has conducted the largest study of tobacco smoke pollution in the hospitality industry and his results have been featured in national debates. He and his colleagues at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where Travers is a research scientist, are now conducting a global air monitoring effort measuring exposure to tobacco smoke pollution in more than 40 countries. His work and his findings have been published extensively in scientific literature around the world.
The Philip B. Wels Outstanding Service Award will be given to the Engineering Dean’s Advisory Council. This group has devoted countless hours to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, offering invaluable advice, leadership and financial support over two decades. Former dean Mark Karwan began the volunteer committee in 1996, charging its members with helping the school achieve pre-eminence in a multitude of areas. The university recognizes the engineering council as a model advisory group. With more than two dozen members, the group has led the engineering school through multiple transitions while also helping to steer the success of numerous university events.
The UB Alumni Association is a volunteer-led international organization that provides ongoing service to alumni and a focus of alumni support for, and service to, UB, its students, faculty and staff. For more information, visit http://www.alumni.buffalo.edu.