Steven Sample Will Receive Norton Medal, Walsh and Wilmers to Receive Honorary SUNY Degrees at UB Commencement on May 9

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: April 29, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Former University at Buffalo president Steven B. Sample will receive the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, UB's highest award, during the university's 158th general commencement ceremony, to be held at 10 a.m. on May 9 in Alumni Arena on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

John Walsh, UB alumnus and creator and host of "America's Most Wanted," and Robert G. Wilmers, chairman, president and chief executive officer of M&T Bank Corp., will receive honorary degrees from SUNY during the general commencement, which also will feature remarks by SUNY Chancellor Robert L. King.

Some 7,100 students had degrees conferred in September 2003 and February 2004, or are candidates to receive degrees during the general commencement and 14 other ceremonies to be held May 6-9, May 15 and May 21.

In addition to King, President John B. Simpson will speak at the general commencement ceremony, as will graduating senior Sara E. Nye.

Simpson and Interim Provost Robert J. Genco will confer degrees.

Thirty-nine students will be recognized during the general commencement.

Receiving the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence will be Sophia R. Balderman, Laura M. Halliday, David A. Ingleman, Sara E. Nye, Heather M. O'Gavaghan, George H. Pape, Jr., Sheela K. Rao, Rachelle A. Ricotta, John B. Taylor and Amy L. Wojciechowski. Four Chancellor's Award winners -- Elizabeth M. Lagowski, Ajay N. Panchal, Narasimhachar G. Prativadi and Jennifer Pugh -- will be recognized at the Biomedical Sciences commencement ceremony on May 6 and Robin L. Vail, also a Chancellor's Award winner, will be recognized at the School of Informatics ceremony on May 8.

During the general commencement ceremony, Rachelle A. Ricotta will receive the Division of Student Affairs Senior Leadership Award.

Twenty-eight graduates will receive the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Outstanding Senior Awards. They are: James E. Ponzo, African American Studies; Jazmin C. LaFay, American Studies; Debra A. Battistella, Anthropology; Debra D. Eck, Art; Elizabeth Haremza, Art History; Sophia Balderman, Biological Sciences.

Also, Amy L. Wojciechowski, Chemistry; Christine R. Stanley, Classics; Amanda Haimson, Communicative Disorders and Sciences; Evan K. Bigos, Economics; Julie Mann, English; Rebecca L. Schalk, Geography; Patrick D. Wall, Geology; Eric K. O'Connor, History.

Also, Karrie Louis, Interdisciplinary Degree Program; Brian W. Dillon, Linguistics; Scott D. Haseley, Mathematics; Andrew P. Taylor, Media Study; Lindsay C. Peterson, Music; Jordan R. Berry, Philosophy; Vikas K. Patel, Physics.

Also, Katherine A. Piatti, Political Science; Erica L. Carlos, Psychology; Andrew L. Franklin, Romance Languages and Literatures; Angela Siao Wen Ling, Sociology; Matthew W. Schweitzer, Special Major; Nicole M. Calabrese, Theatre and Dance, and Nancy M. Philip, Women's Studies.

The vocalist at the general commencement will be Brandy M. Vallely.

The Norton Medal is presented 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."

Norton Medal recipient Steven Sample served as UB's 12th president from 1982-91. Under his leadership, UB joined the prestigious Association of American Universities and expanded significantly the scope of its research enterprise. He also played a leading role in securing NCAA Division I membership for UB, further establishing the university's place in the national arena.

Currently president of the University of Southern California, Sample is a past chair of the executive committee of the AAU and serves as a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and co-founder of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities.

A noted engineer, inventor and educator, he is the author of the acclaimed 2001 book "The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership."

During Sample's presidency, USC was named Time magazine's 2000 College of the Year, and in 2003, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in tribute to his presidential leadership.

A determined advocate for victims' rights, John Walsh will receive a doctor of humane letters at the general commencement. He was scheduled to receive the honorary degree last year, but was unable to attend the general commencement ceremony.

Walsh's extraordinary commitment led to two Missing Children's Acts, as well as to the founding of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center and the Charles B. Wang International Children's Building, which is the first national center devoted to helping missing children and their families.

He has proposed a set of constitutional "victims' rights amendments" that would guarantee more rights for crime victims, and he has received numerous accolades from such national law enforcement organizations as the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.

As head of one of the nation's largest banking institutions, Robert Wilmers is recognized internationally for his leadership in the financial world. The 2002 chair of the New York Bankers Association, he directed the Federal Reserve Banks of New York from 1993-98, and sits on the boards of the Business Council of New York State, Inc., the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Widely lauded for his service to the community, Wilmers was recognized as Western New Yorker of the Year by the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce in 1991 and twice named a Citizen of the Year by The Buffalo News.

He was a member of the UB Foundation Inc. Board of Trustees from 1986-93 and chaired the board during his last two years as a trustee.

In addition to the general commencement, UB will hold 14 other commencement ceremonies:

• Biomedical Sciences, 6 p.m., May 6, Center for the Arts, North Campus. This ceremony recognizes graduate and undergraduate students in the biomedical sciences, including special studies majors. The speaker will be Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Hauptman, president of the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute and professor in the UB departments of Structural Biology, Biophysical Sciences and Computer Science and Engineering. Simpson will confer degrees.

• Graduate School of Education, 9 a.m., May 7, Center for the Arts. Joel I. Cline, chancellor, New York City Department of Education, will speak. Simpson will confer degrees.

• Graduate School, 1 p.m., May 7, Center for the Arts. Anne Huot, associate provost, SUNY Central Administration, will speak. Simpson will confer degrees.

• School of Informatics, 9 a.m., May 8, Alumni Arena. The speaker will be James Militello, B.A. '79, a sports broadcaster with the Associated Press. Simpson will confer degrees.

• School of Social Work, 9 a.m., May 8, Center for the Arts. Dennis Saleebey, professor of social welfare, School of Social Welfare, University of Kansas, will speak. Kenneth J. Levy, senior vice provost, will confer degrees.

• School of Nursing, 9 a.m., May 8, Slee Concert Hall, North Campus. The speaker will be Seth M. Gordon, president and CEO, the Nurse Practitioner Association, New York State. Genco will confer degrees.

• School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 1 p.m., May 8, Alumni Arena. The speaker will be Dean Mark H. Karwan. Simpson will confer degrees.

• School of Public Health and Health Professions, 1 p.m., May 8, Center for the Arts. State Sen. Mary Lou Rath will speak. Genco will confer degrees.

• School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 1 p.m., May 8, Slee Concert Hall. Dean Wayne K. Anderson will speak. Margaret W. Paroski, interim vice president for health affairs and interim dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, will confer degrees.

• School of Architecture and Planning, 2 p.m., May 8, Hayes Hall lawn, South (Main Street) Campus. Dean Brian Carter will speak. Levy will confer degrees.

• School of Management, 5 p.m., May 8, Alumni Arena. Dean John M. Thomas will speak. Kerry S. Grant, vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, will confer degrees.

• School of Dental Medicine, 5 p.m., May 8, Center for the Arts. Robert A. Saporito, senior vice president for academic affairs, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, will speak. Genco will confer degrees.

• Law School, 1 p.m., May 15, Center for the Arts. Virginia A. Leary, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emerita in the UB Law School, will speak. Simpson will confer degrees.

• School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, 2 p.m. May 21, Center for the Arts. Jim Kelly, former quarterback for the Buffalo Bills and a 2002 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will speak. Simpson will confer degrees.