Campus News

Peoples-Stokes to receive Norton Medal at UB commencement

Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal.

The Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal is UB’s highest honor.


Published May 9, 2022


Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, Majority Leader of the New York State Assembly, will be awarded the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, UB’s highest honor, during the university’s 2022 commencement ceremonies being held April 29 through May 22.

Sargur N. Srihari, SUNY Distinguished Professor and an internationally renowned pioneer in the field of computer science, will receive the UB President’s Medal posthumously in recognition of extraordinary service to the university.

Also this commencement season, SUNY honorary doctorates will be presented to Ravinder K. Bansal, co-founder, former chairman and CEO of AirSep Corporation, and Francesco Calogero, a theoretical physicist and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Italy’s Sapienza University of Roma.

The Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal is presented annually 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.”

Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes will receive the Norton Medal at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ graduate commencement ceremony on May 20.

Serving New York State’s 141st Assembly District in the city of Buffalo since 2003, Peoples-Stokes was named assembly majority leader in 2018, becoming the first woman and the first African American legislator to hold the position in state history. She has chaired both the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators. From 1993 until 2002, she served on the Erie County Legislature, being appointed majority leader in 1998.

As an assemblymember, Peoples-Stokes has worked to enhance quality of life for not only the constituents of her district, but all Western New Yorkers, particularly in the area of education.
A former teacher, she has secured millions of dollars in funding for the Educational Opportunity Center at UB, as well as the Buffalo Public Schools, to name a few institutions. Among her numerous accomplishments, she established and secured the resources to launch the Buffalo Urban Teacher Pipeline Residency Program, an initiative that helps teacher aides and assistants complete their higher education degrees and pursue their teaching certification.

A steadfast advocate of equitable access and opportunity, Peoples-Stokes has championed minority and women-owned businesses to ensure that they have a fair chance of being awarded state contracts. Her Diversity in Medicine initiative has promoted entry into the medical field with academic and financial support for promising students of color.

A Buffalo native, Peoples-Stokes earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in student personnel administration from Buffalo State College.

The UB President’s Medal, first presented in 1990, recognizes “outstanding scholarly or artistic achievements, humanitarian acts, contributions of time or treasure, exemplary leadership or any other major contribution to the development of the University at Buffalo and the quality of life in the UB community.”

Sargur Srihari.

The President’s Medal will be presented to Sargur N. Srihari posthumously at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ graduate commencement ceremony on May 20. Srihari’s wife, Rohini Srihari, professor and associate chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will accept the award.

Srihari died March 8 due to complications from a glioblastoma. He was 72.

A pioneer in the field of computer science, he taught computers to read handwriting and significantly advanced the fields of pattern recognition, computational forensics and machine learning.

A UB faculty member in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences for more than 40 years, Srihari established the university as a leading center for pattern recognition and machine learning. He founded the Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition (CEDAR), which conducted groundbreaking research for the U.S. Postal Service in the 1990s, ultimately teaching machines how to read handwritten envelopes.

Srihari’s research advances, which have received seven U.S. patents, paved the way for the handwriting-recognition technology that is used in modern systems ranging from tablets to scanners. His early research on 3D imaging also remains influential in fields such as 3D printing. Srihari would later become a pioneer in the field of computational forensics. In 2002, he conducted the first computationally based research to establish the individuality of handwriting, with important implications for the criminal justice community.

Srihari held fellowships in the International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR) and the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications Engineers (IETE, India), and he was a life fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The recipient of numerous honors, Srihari received the IAPR/ICDAR Outstanding Achievements Award in 2011 for his outstanding and continued contributions to research and education in handwriting recognition and document analysis, and for his service to the community.

Ravinder Bansal.

An accomplished entrepreneur, humanitarian and researcher, Ravinder K. Bansal is co-founder and former chairman and CEO of AirSep Corporation, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medical oxygen concentrators and generators. He has made a tremendous economic impact across the region while helping pioneer the development of life-saving devices that benefit patients globally.

Bansal will receive a SUNY Honorary Doctorate of Science at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 21.

Born in India, Bansal earned his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, moving to Buffalo in 1977 to work at Praxair and founding AirSep in 1987. As a result of his leadership, AirSep is one of Buffalo’s most successful manufacturing businesses, developing advanced, affordable oxygen systems in high demand worldwide.

An avid aviator, Bansal became, at 68, the only person of Indian origin to circumnavigate the earth solo in a single-engine plane. His flight had two missions: to raise cancer awareness and enough money to buy an urgently needed MRI machine for a charity hospital in his hometown.

Bansal has had a long, productive association with UB. In addition to hiring many graduates to work at AirSep, he has served as a member of UB boards and committees including the UB Foundation, the Advisory Council for UB’s Educational Opportunity Center, the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Advisory Board for UB’s Center of Excellence on Human Capital, Technology Transfer & Economic Growth and Development.

Francesco Calogero.

A world-renowned scholar who is deeply involved in international activism related to arms control, nuclear disarmament and conflict resolution, Francesco Calogero will receive a SUNY Honorary Doctorate of Science in absentia at the College of Arts and Sciences’ undergraduate commencement ceremony for students in the arts, natural sciences and math on May 22. UB faculty member Gino Biondini, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics, will accept the award in Calogero’s behalf.

Calogero’s research into mathematical and theoretical physics is collected in five books and more than 450 scientific articles. A pioneer of the theory of integrable systems, Calogero authored, in 1982, one of the first research monographs ever available on the subject; today, it continues to serve as a major reference in the field. As an international activist, Calogero has published more than 400 articles, and co-authored and co-edited several books. From 1989 to 1997, he served as the secretary general of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; during his tenure, the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics — and, ultimately, eliminate such arms.

Calogero has established a longstanding connection to UB through his highly productive collaborations with, and mentorship of, UB mathematics and physics faculty members in the fields of nonlinear waves, soliton theory and integrable systems. The corresponding research groups involve dozens of students, including more than 20 past and current PhD students.