20 to be honored by the UB Alumni Association

By Barbara A. Byers

Release Date: March 4, 2009

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Louis A. DiBerardino Jr. will receive the UB Alumni Association's highest award, the Samuel P. Capen Award.

Ralph and Mary Wilson will receive the UB Alumni Association's Community Leadership Medal.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Alumni Association will honor 20 individuals with achievement awards at a gala to be held March 20 in the Adam's Mark Hotel, 120 Church St.

A cocktail reception at 6 p.m. will be followed by dinner and the awards presentations starting at 6:45 p.m.

The awards are presented each spring to alumni and friends of UB for bringing distinction to themselves and the university through outstanding professional and personal achievement, loyal service to UB and exemplary service to their communities. Also that evening, four students will be awarded J. Scott Fleming Scholarships, and new to the ceremony this year is the Volunteer Service Medal, which will be given to four outstanding volunteers.

UB President John B. Simpson and UB Alumni Association President Marc A. Adler, M.A '83, MBA '82 & B.A. '79, will present the awards. Susan Banks, M.A. '94, president, Susan Banks Image Building and Marketing, will emcee.

Tickets for the Alumni Association Achievement Awards are $100 per person, or $1,000 for a table of 10. Call the UB Office of Alumni Relations by March 6 to make reservations, at 1-800-284-5382.

The alumni association's highest honor, the Samuel P. Capen Award, will be presented to Louis A. DiBerardino Jr., B.S. '80, of Westport, Conn.

A native Buffalonian, DiBerardino worked his way through school and up the corporate ladder at Ernst & Young. He now serves as tax managing partner for Ernst & Young's North Central region, encompassing 14 offices in six states.

DiBerardino has served on the UB School of Management Alumni Association Board, the Buffalo and New York City-based Accounting Advisory Councils, and the School of Management Dean's Advisory Council, which he now chairs. Along with wife, Kate, in 1999 DiBerardino made the initial commitment that resulted in the Ernst & Young Connected Classroom in the School of Management, and secured an additional $50,000 gift from fellow alumni who work for Ernst & Young partners throughout the country to complete the $100,000 gift.

The couple also funded the Louis A. and Kathryn A. DiBerardino Accounting Resource Center, which opened in the Jacobs Management Center last fall and provides space for tutoring, studying, meetings and conducting research.

Buffalo Bills owner and president Ralph C. Wilson Jr., newly elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his wife, Mary McLean Wilson, will receive the Community Leadership Medal in appreciation of their outstanding accomplishments in making the Western New York community a better place to live and work.

Ralph C. Wilson Jr. is the founder, owner and president of the NFL's Buffalo Bills and a 2009 inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of the founding owners of the American Football League, which merged with the NFL in 1970.

Wilson displayed his drive for hard work and diligence as he graduated from the University of Virginia and later attended law school at the University of Michigan. He then enlisted in the Navy during World War II, earning the Commendation Medal while serving aboard minesweepers in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. After the war, Wilson joined his father's insurance business, which would become the first of many industries in which he endeavored, including trucking, television, energy and professional sports.

Wilson's philanthropic pursuits include the creation in 1999 of the Ralph Wilson Medical Research Foundation, which has contributed more than $10 million in support of basic science, high-risk, high-impact research of cancer, heart and blood vessel diseases, neurological diseases and disorders of the muscles and bones. The Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo is one of its five partner institutions. To recognize his longtime charitable efforts in the Buffalo area, Wilson received the 2003 Seymour Knox III Humanitarian Award.

Wilson's wife, Mary, graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a degree in physical education. She held several teaching and coaching positions, and her passion for tennis led her to pursue the sport as a professional coach, a competitor in USTA National Age Division Tournaments, and a member of several international cup teams representing the U.S. In 2006, she ranked number one in her age group for both singles and doubles in National USTA Age Division Tournament Tennis.

She spends her time giving back to the Buffalo community and beyond, and in 2002 was presented with the Burt P. Flickinger Jr. Community Service Award by the Western New York Food Bank. She is also the founder of Western New York Girls in Sports, dedicated to providing opportunities, encouragement and personal development to underserved girls in Buffalo. In addition to UB, partners in the effort include the Bills, the Girl Scout Council of Buffalo and Erie County, the Buffalo Public Schools and other area schools.

The Wilsons also support causes such as the food banks of Buffalo and Rochester, the Ronald McDonald House, the United Way, SPCA, the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Hospice Foundation of WNY. Recently, the Hospice Foundation dedicated a new building as the "Mary and Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Counseling Center" in recognition of the critical role of the Wilsons' generosity in establishing the center.

In addition, Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented in recognition of exceptional career accomplishments, community or university service, or research and scholarly activity to: Lester A. Gerhardt, Ph.D. '69 and M.S. '64, of Clifton Park; Vikki L. Pryor, JD '78 and B.A. '75, of New Rochelle; Sharad K. Tak, M.S. '69, of Bethesda, Md.; and Connie R. Vari, MBA '04, M.S. '97 and B.S. '94, of Williamsville.

The Clifford C. Furnas Award, presented to engineering, natural sciences or mathematics alumni who have distinguished themselves in a field of science, will be given to Marjorie E. Winkler, Ph.D. '80 and B.A. '75, of Burlingame, Calif.

Nicole C. Lee, JD '02 and B.A. '00, of Washington DC, will receive the George W. Thorn Award, which is 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 Ravinder K. Bansal, of Clarence.

The Dr. Richard T. Sarkin Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to Patricia R. McCartney, Ph.D. '95 and M.S. '77,of Amherst.

The Dr. Philip B. Wels Award will be given to Ralph T. Behling, M.D. '43 and B.S. '40, of San Mateo, Calif., recognizing his achievements that have greatly enhanced the quality of life of the entire UB community.

Four students will receive the J. Scott Fleming Scholarship: Kayla Geelan, of Springville, Mary Greenberg, B.A. '08, of Amherst, Chris Llop, of Amherst, and Shanita Mitchell of Buffalo.

In appreciation of outstanding volunteer contributions to the university, Volunteer Recognition Medals will be presented to Mary H. Berlow of Buffalo; John Bodkin II, M.D. '76, of East Amherst; Jean C. Powers, JD '79, of Williamsville; and Jay Schwartzkopf, B.S. '97, of Hainesport, N.J.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.