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SUNY Distinguished Academy brings professors from all disciplines, campuses together

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher with Distinguished Academy Honorary Inductee, Author William Kennedy, and UAlbany President George Philip

The SUNY Distinguished Academy held its inaugural meeting on May 22 in Albany where, for the first time, every new and previous SUNY Distinguished Faculty honoree was brought together in a single forum to share and discuss ideas on collaboration and innovation.

The meeting began with a town hall session, led by Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.  Afterward, sessions were held with respective Distinguished Faculty groups. During these “breakout sessions” faculty members brainstormed and discussed ideas to foster collaboration and mentorship of Distinguished Faculty within the SUNY community going forward. Individuals were also elected to serve in an advisory capacity to the Chancellor on the ideas discussed.

The evening culminated in the conferral of the first Distinguished Academy Honorary Inductee, author William Kennedy, and the induction of the 2010-2011 Distinguished Faculty.

The class of inductees included:

Distinguished Librarian

  • Constantia Constantinou – Stephen B. Luce Library, Maritime College
  • Trudi Jacobson – University Libraries, University at Albany

Distinguished Professor

  • Michael Berzonsky – Psychology, SUNY Cortland
  • Guyora Binder – Law, University at Buffalo
  • Tony Conrad – Media Studies, University at Buffalo
  • James Gardner – Law, University at Buffalo
  • Michael Kimmel – Sociology, Stony Brook University
  • Ronald Miles – Engineering, Binghamton University
  • Cristianne Miller – English, University at Buffalo
  • John Monfasani – History, University at Albany
  • Timothy Murphy – Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo
  • Todd Sacktor – Basic Neurosciences and Clinical Neurology, Downstate Medical Center
  • Richard Salvi – Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at Buffalo
  • Bahgat Sammakia – Medical Engineering, Binghamton University
  • Sanjay Sampath – Materials Science and Engineering, Stony Brook University
  • Christopher Turner – Cell and Development Biology, Upstate Medical University
  • Frank Vellutino – Educational Psychology, University at Albany
  • Shelemyahu Zacks – Mathematical Sciences, Binghamton University

Distinguished Teaching Professor

  • Diane Fine – Art, SUNY Plattsburgh
  • John Fiorillo – Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, Farmingdale State College
  • Kurtis Fletcher – Physics and Astronomy, SUNY Geneseo
  • Lisa Ruth Merlin – Neurology and Physiology/ Pharmacology, Downstate Medical Center
  • James Pitarresi – Engineering, Binghamton University
  • John Wadach – Engineering Science and Physics, Monroe Community College

Distinguished Service Professor

  • Jack DeHovitz – Medicine, Downstate Medical Center
  • John Frazier – Geography, Binghamton University
  • Bryan Higgins – Geography, SUNY Plattsburgh
  • Louis Rotando – Mathematics, Westchester Community College
  • Ted Schwalbe – Communications, SUNY Fredonia
  • Dennis Showers – Education, SUNY Geneseo
  • S.N. Sridhar – Linguistics and India Studies – Stony Brook University
  • Roy Steigbigel – Medicine, Stony Brook University

While the Distinguished Faculty titles were created in 1963 and have been awarded since 1964, the Academy was created through a SUNY Board of Trustees resolution this year.  The purpose in creating the Academy was to encourage a renewed commitment to quality instruction, service on campuses, and strong leadership development for new faculty.

At the time, Chancellor Zimpher said, “It is only fitting that SUNY bring together its distinguished faculty to help raise the bar for academic excellence throughout the system.  By establishing the academy, the Board paves the way for increased contribution to the SUNY mission on behalf of this group, and expands its honor of their extensive accomplishments.”

Since the program’s inception in 1963, SUNY has appointed 942 faculty to distinguished ranks, as follows: 312 Distinguished Professorships; 284 Distinguished Service Professorships; 341 Distinguished Teaching Professorships; and 5 Distinguished Librarian Professorships.

Past recipients have included Nobel laureates and winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and a Distinguished Librarian who, as a Fulbright Scholar in the country of Cyprus, accomplished what no other scholar or librarian has been able to do since 1974 by bringing the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot academic communities closer through overcoming ethnic and political conflicts.

Emily Schwartz

Written by Emily Schwartz

Emily Schwartz is the Coordinator of Open SUNY Communication and Projects.



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