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Zubrow named SUNY Distinguished Service Professor

2010 portrait of Ezra Zubrow.

Ezra Zubrow is described by colleagues as “an engaged scholar” who, over the course of his 40-year career at UB, “has fought hard to protect human and civil rights, and advance social justice within the university and in the larger state, national and global communities.”


Published December 12, 2017

UB faculty member Ezra B.W. Zubrow has been named a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, the highest rank in the SUNY system.

Zubrow, professor in the Department of Anthropology, was one of 10 SUNY faculty members appointed to the distinguished professor ranks by the SUNY Board of Trustees at its meeting on Nov. 15.

The rank of distinguished professor is an order above full professorship and has three co-equal designations: distinguished professor, distinguished service professor and distinguished teaching professor.

The Distinguished Service Professorship honors and recognizes extraordinary service, not only at the campus and SUNY, but also within the local community and at the regional and state levels. Many also have contributed at the national and international levels.

“Those honored with the distinguished ranking are truly the best of SUNY’s best, and they are to be commended for passing knowledge onto and mentoring the next generation of faculty and students in a manner that is as innovating as it is engaging,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson.

Zubrow is described by colleagues as “an engaged scholar” who, over the course of his 40-year career at UB, “has fought hard to protect human and civil rights, and advance social justice within the university and in the larger state, national and global communities.”

He is an archaeologist of international renown whose research has taken him all over the globe, from the Arctic and Southeast Asia to Mexico and Europe. He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, the world’s oldest and most prestigious archaeological professional society, and director of the International Circumpolar Archaeological Project that has conducted projects in Norway, Finland, Siberia and Northern Canada.

His work reflects a diverse set of academic interests — arctic archaeology and anthropology, climate change, human ecology and demography — and a deep interest in such social issues as heritage, disability and literacy, Nordic archaeology, ecology, simulation models and global  information systems.

He is a research scientist with the National Center for Geographic Information Analysis laboratory at UB, which he helped to found.

Zubrow has been particularly active in climate change research and advocacy, traveling around the world and collaborating with climatologists and geographers, among others — work that has enhanced our understanding of climate change and human responses to it, and significantly impacted global policy.

For nearly a decade he worked on the United States’ Man and Biosphere (MAB) Program, part of a United Nations’ project that set up biosphere reserves to research biodiversity and influence policy statements for the U.S. State Department and the UN. Through MAB, Zubrow also was involved in the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida and the South Florida Everglades Restoration Project.

In the area of disabilities research and advocacy, Zubrow has taken part in several UN conferences regarding the rights of persons with disabilities, and collaborated on a system for capturing and analyzing the global reporting on disability rights from the internet.

A prolific scholar, Zubrow has written or edited 12 books and more than 100 journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings; delivered more than 200 lectures and presentations in more than 25 countries; and taken part in more than 50 archaeological expeditions around the world. Over the course of his career, he has received more than $18 million in grant funding, including 15 grants from the National Science Foundation.

He also has served on a number of editorial boards, and has been editor in chief of the Journal of World Anthropology since 1994.

Zubrow has held more than 40 visiting fellow, scholar or faculty positions at prestigious institutions around the world, including an adjunct position at the University of Toronto. In 2015 and 2012, he was the Lady Margaret Beaufort Visiting Professor at the University of Cambridge (St. John’s College), Yip fellow at Magdalene College University of Cambridge in 2008 and 2919, and a fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Melbourne Australia, and Bristol, England. He also has been a visiting professor at the universities of Bergen, Helsinki and Singapore.

In addition to his academic work, Zubrow is a longtime union activist and faculty governance leader. He currently is president of the Buffalo Center Chapter of United University Professions, the union representing SUNY faculty and professional staff, and a member of the statewide Executive Board and the statewide negotiations team. He previously served terms as vice president for academics and treasurer for the Buffalo Center Chapter.

He served as chair of the UB Faculty Senate from 2011-2015, and currently is a member of the SUNY-wide Faculty Senate and UB’s Faculty Senate Executive Committee.

Zubrow, who joined the UB faculty as an associate professor in 1977 after serving on the faculty at Stanford University, earned a BA from Harvard College and an MA and PhD from the University of Arizona.