John Ho

Published September 27, 2016

John Ho

John Ho, a retired longtime UB faculty member and administrator who most recently served as vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School, died Sept. 22 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 74.

A SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Physics who served as UB’s point person for graduate education for nearly a decade, Ho stepped down from that position in August 2015 to return to the faculty. He retired earlier this year after more than 40 years at UB.

Charles F. Zukoski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, called Ho “a consummate university citizen and colleague.”

“Through his leadership, John had a profound impact on our entire graduate enterprise, enhancing graduate student and postdoctoral scholar support and development, helping UB achieve strong graduate enrollments — including record enrollments in several years — and raising the overall prominence and quality of graduate education at UB, among many other accomplishments,” Zukoski said.

He noted that Ho was committed throughout his career to mentoring faculty and students — in particular UB’s international population — “helping them achieve excellence at UB and beyond.”

Ho also brought his “student-focused perspective” to approximately 130 important campus committees, including the Middle States reaccreditation and HUB implementation teams, Zukoski said.

“It was this extraordinary commitment to our university, students and faculty — as well as his strong service to his professional societies — that earned him the richly deserved designation of SUNY Distinguished Service Professor,” he said.

“UB is stronger because of John’s many contributions.”

Ho joined the UB faculty in 1975 as an experimental condensed matter physicist. His research interests included the use of light scattering, magneto-optics, electro-optics and electron diffraction to study phase transitions and critical phenomena in ferromagnets, liquid crystals, biomembranes and microemulsions.

A fellow of the American Physical Society, he was the author of numerous scientific publications and served on various committees and panels at the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, the Council of Graduate Schools and the American Physical Society. Among his academic honors were the DuPont Young Faculty Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Ho held other administrative positions at UB outside the Graduate School, including those of associate dean and interim dean of the former Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, chair of the Department of Statistics and associate dean for graduate education and research in the College of Arts and Sciences.

He received a BSc in physics and mathematics from the University of Hong Kong and a PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A memorial service will take place at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Screening Room in the Center for the Arts, North Campus.