This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Celebrating UB’s excellence

Event pays tribute to faculty, staff and student achievement

Published: May 5, 2005

Reporter Editor

Student excellence in research, scholarship and creative activity took center stage—literally—on Friday as UB paid tribute to members of the university community for outstanding achievement.

The Celebration of Academic Excellence, held in the Mainstage theater in the Center for the Arts, featured performances by student musicians, singers and dancers, a video presentation written and directed by a media study student and special recognition of graduate student teaching and undergraduate research efforts.


Approximately 100 poster presentations by undergraduate student investigators were on display Friday in the CFA Atrium.

In addition to the program in the Mainstage, approximately 100 poster presentations by undergraduate student investigators were on display in the CFA Atrium.

"Today, we have the opportunity to celebrate university and systemwide honors accorded to our distinguished faculty and staff," President John B. Simpson said in opening remarks. "We also have a special opportunity to witness UB's mission of academic excellence taking shape in its most vital form-through the achievements and promise of our students.

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"The students whose work you see today represent both UB's present, as well as our future," Simpson said. "All that we do as a research community—our research and teaching endeavors, our contributions to the arts, our commitment to public service—finds its fullest and most meaningful expression in the excellence of our students."

Simpson thanked the faculty for "providing the educational opportunities and the stimulating supportive academic climate" for students to challenge themselves and realize their full potential.

"This is the very reason for our research university's existence and it is the very essence of what we contribute to the world around us," he stressed.

"We're at a pivotal point in our institutional history," he noted. "Our plans for the future are beginning to take shape and our academic aspirations are crystallizing into tangible academic achievements.

"This is an especially appropriate time, therefore, for us to take note of the exceptional faculty, staff and student achievements that best exemplify our university's highest ideals of academic leadership and distinction, and most clearly manifest our progress in realizing these important ideals."

Satish K. Tripathi, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, noted that the Celebration of Academic Excellence is a celebration of students' knowledge and imagination.

"We are celebrating the flicker of an idea that, through intelligent cultivation, manifests and becomes a new approach of thinking about our natural world—an idea that leads to further understanding of the human condition and the innovation and creative expression that enhance the aesthetic quality of our lives," he said.

But the Celebration of Academic Excellence also must celebrate students' intellectual tenacity and perseverance, as well as their knowledge and imagination, he added.

"The ability to conceive an idea and the fulfillment of such an idea is, in no small part, the ability of the individual explorer to not be dissuaded by unknown challenges or whatever problems might surface."

The individual explorer," he noted, "must be able to experiment creatively and make adjustments based on experiments and outcomes. This is what leads to the fullest expression of our imagination."

Simpson began the recognition of faculty, staff and students by presenting a 50-year service pin to Charles H.V. (Vince) Ebert, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography. Simpson noted that Ebert has taught more than 32,000 students during his career at UB.

Recognition of other faculty and staff who achieved significant honors during the past year was interspersed with student musical and dance performances, and several video presentations, including an excerpt of an interview with Robert Creeley, former SUNY Distinguished Professor and a longtime UB faculty member who died on March 30.

Honored for achieving SUNY's highest rank were Philip T. LoVerde, professor and associate chair, Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Barry Smith, Julian Park Professor of Philosophy; and Tsu-Teh Soong, Samuel P. Capen Professor of Engineering, all of whom were named SUNY Distinguished Professors; David M. Engel, professor of law, who was named Distinguished Service Professor; and Elizabeth Mensch, professor of law, and Charles E. Mitchell, professor and chair, Department of Geology, who were named Distinguished Teaching Professors.

Recognized for receiving the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching were Kathleen M.K. Boje, associate professor of pharmaceutics; Jean D. Brown, associate professor of nursing; Michael R. Detty, associate professor of chemistry; Sarah M. Elder, professor of media study; and D. Joseph Mook, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Karen L. Spencer, archives and special collections librarian in the Charles B. Sears Law Library. received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Librarianship.

Winners of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service were Dean C. Millar, assistant dean for corporate relations, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Bruce R. Majkowski, associate dean for computing and information systems, School of Architecture and Planning.

Recognized for receiving the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities were Anthony S. Conrad, professor of media study; Michael C. Constantinou, professor and chair, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering; David A. Kofke, professor of chemical and biological engineering; Eugene D. Morse, professor and chair, Department of Pharmacy Practice; and Alan L. Selman, professor of computer science and engineering,

Honored for receiving the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Faculty Service—a new award this year—were Joseph A. Gardella Jr., professor of chemistry, and D. Bruce Johnstone, University Professor of Higher and Comparative Education.

Recipients of the Chancellor's Awards for Internationalization were Patrick McDevitt, assistant professor of history; Samuel Paley, professor of classics; John Stone, associate clinical professor and director, Center for International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange (CIRRIE); and Jason Young, assistant professor of history.

Entering the ranks of UB Distinguished Professor are William E. Pelham Jr., professor of psychology, pediatrics and psychiatry, and director of the Center for Children and Families; Mulchand S. Patel, professor of biochemistry; David A. Kofke; Jo L. Freudenheim, professor and interim chair, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine; Paresh Dandona, professor of medicine; Joan K. Copjec, professor of English and comparative literature; and Timothy F. Murphy, professor of medicine and chief of the Infectious Diseases Division, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Three faculty members received the Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Education at UB—a new award this year. They were D. Bruce Johnstone; George Lee, Samuel P. Capen Professor of Engineering; and Mirdza Neiders, clinical professor of oral diagnostic sciences.

Special student award winners also were recognized at the event.

Recipients of the Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching Award were Barish Ali, comparative literature; Eleftheria Antoniou, chemical and biological engineering; Lori A. Emerson, English; Elizabeth Etopio, learning and instruction; Paul R. Gleed, English; Rahul Jain, economics; Evan A. Johnson, music; Theodora B. Kopestonsky, classics; Frankie N. LaVarnway, history; Voichita Nachescu, women's studies; Amy Marie Piwowar, biological sciences; Laurel Silber, philosophy; Jessica S. Smith, comparative literature; and Michael Stamatikos, physics.

Recipients of the Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Award of Distinction honoring outstanding achievement from each of the academic areas that displayed posters in the CFA Atrium were Jajean Rose-Burney, architecture and planning; Adam C. Sokolow, physics; Brian J. Peer, engineering; Samantha K. Gosch, informatics; Kit U. Leong and Mai H. Ling, management; Marie Anne V. Sanon, nursing and the McNair Program; Tyler M. Smith-Strutz, pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences; Justin Spiegel and Katherine H. Supple, public health and health professions; Royston U. Ogbuagu, Collegiate Science and Technology Achievement Program; Danielle M. Wilbur, University Honors Program; Mama Afrane, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation; and Brenna E. McJury, Sigma Xi—The Scientific Research Society.