SUNY Board of Trustees Appoints Eight Faculty to Distinguished Ranks

December 17, 2012

Albany – The State University of New York Board of Trustees today approved the appointments of eight faculty to distinguished ranks. All distinguished faculty in active service within SUNY are also members of the SUNY Distinguished Academy, established in March 2012.

“The Board is pleased to present these eight outstanding individuals with SUNY’s highest distinguished ranking,” said Board Chairman H. Carl McCall. “Their commitment to the students, faculty, and staff at their respective campuses is clearly evident in the vast achievements they have made in their fields. Congratulations to all of today’s honorees.”

“In bestowing its highest faculty honor, SUNY proudly recognizes the extraordinary achievements of these faculty and the positive impacts they have had on our great system of higher education as well as their colleagues and students," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Their achievements are highly commendable and we thank them for their impeccable service to SUNY.”

Since the program’s inception in 1963, SUNY has appointed 950 faculty to distinguished ranks, as follows, including these most recent appointments: 315 Distinguished Professorships; 287 Distinguished Service Professorships; 343 Distinguished Teaching Professorships; and 5 Distinguished Librarian Professorships. For more information about SUNY’s faculty award program, please click here.

The Distinguished Professorship is conferred upon individuals who have achieved national or international prominence and a distinguished reputation within a chosen field. This distinction is attained through significant contributions to the research literature or through artistic performance or achievement in the case of the arts. The candidates’ work must be of such character that the individuals’ presence will tend to elevate the standards of scholarship of colleagues both within and beyond these persons’ academic fields. Receiving this rank today are:

  • Francis M. Gasparini – A Fellow of the American Physical Society, University at Buffalo Professor Gasparini is an international leader in the field of low temperature physics. A world-renowned scholar who has been at the forefront of his field for several decades, Dr. Gasparini is especially well-known for his pioneering studies of phase transitions of liquid helium in confined systems-contributions regarded as the “gold standard” in the field. A member of UB’s Physics Department for nearly four decades, Professor Gasparini served for 14 years as the Director of Graduate Studies, associate chair and chair of the Physics Department and has been instrumental in guiding the department’s unprecedented growth and rise in stature, leading to international recognition of the Department by the physics community. His many research and teaching honors include the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. The author of nearly 100 research papers, since 1975, his research has been nearly continuously funded by the National Science Foundation, with overall external funding totaling more than $3.1 million.
  • Leo N. Hopkins – Dr. Hopkins is Professor and Chair in the University at Buffalo Department of Neurosurgery at the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Professor Hopkins is also Director and founding member of the Toshiba Stroke Research Centre – a facility that brings together physicists, chemists, aerospace engineers, neurosurgeons, cardiologists, and radiologists to study neurovascular circulation and develop innovative technologies and approaches for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of neurovascular diseases. Dr. Hopkins is a physician scientist who has redefined the field of vascular neurosurgery in the management of stroke and stenting of vascular lesions. He is one of the founding figures of endovascular treatment for neurovascular disorders. He is a strong believer and participant in translational medicine, and his innovations in the field of endovascular surgery have been the benchmark for therapeutic endovascular intervention and have defined the field for neurosurgery. Dr. Hopkins’ work has been transformational in every sense, and has changed the way we think about and treat cerebrovascular disorders.
  • David A. Kofke – Dr. Kofke is internationally recognized in the field of molecular simulation. He invented the Gibbs-Duhem integration technique that is now ubiquitous in the field and in molecular simulation textbooks. He has developed intermolecular potentials that permit prediction of the properties of toxic chemicals like HF, reducing the need for dangerous experiments. He has systematically examined biases in molecular simulation methodologies and developed a simple heuristic which can be applied to detect bias in simulation results. University at Buffalo Professor Kofke has created a suite of molecular simulation modules that allow visualization of results for use in both research and education. He continues to develop methods of calculating virial coefficients and cluster integrals that previously could not be computed. This represents an important step toward the goal of first-principles calculation of fluid-phase properties. He is one of only five recipients of the John M. Prausnitz Award for Outstanding Achievement in Applied Chemical Thermodynamics, along with numerous other awards that include the Jacob F. Schoellkopf Medal, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity, and others.

The Distinguished Teaching Professorship recognizes and honors mastery of teaching. For this prestigious tribute to be conferred, candidates must have demonstrated consistently superior mastery of teaching, outstanding service to students, and commitment to their ongoing intellectual growth, scholarship and professional growth, and adherence to rigorous academic standards and requirements. Further, a faculty member must have attained and held the rank of full professor for five years, have completed at least three years of full-time teaching on the nominating campus, 10 years of full-time teaching in the System, and must have regularly carried a full-time teaching load as defined by the campus at the undergraduate, graduate, or professional level. Receiving this rank today are:

  • Joanna B. Chrzanowski – In her 32-year career at Jefferson Community College, Dr. Chrzanowski’s focus has always been on teaching.  She cares intensely about students and their success as writers, future professionals, and people.  Her teaching is imbued with the constructivist principles and manifests itself in student-centered and active learning, resulting in student-generated knowledge.  Her teaching innovations have kept her instruction vibrant. From the traditional classroom and computer lab to hybrid and online courses, learning communities and college success classes, Phi Theta Kappa students, SUNY and New York State have recognized Dr. Chrzanowski for her excellence in teaching. Her numerous curricular innovations at the course and program levels along with founding and restructuring the English Department, including creation of two English Concentrations: Creative Writing and Literature, are her crowning achievements. Although she has vast stores of energy to give to her students and the College, Dr. Chrzanowski extends the same guidance and enthusiasm in mentoring her young colleagues, volunteering in the community, presenting at conferences, and developing instructional materials.
  • Elizabeth Gaffney – Dr. Gaffney is a Westchester Community College Professor of English, and she has been a member of the faculty for over twenty years and is a key member of her department, which describes her as a superb teacher, an excellent poet and a fine scholar. She is noted for her widely published poetry and her dynamism in the teaching of literature.  She employs the latest technology available in her classes and brings students to unimagined literary experiences. As a holder of the Abeles Endowed Chair in Global Studies, she creates experiences students do not easily forget.  She has developed new courses in “Images of Women in Literature” and “Reading and Writing Poetry.” A favored teacher of courses in the College’s Honors Program, her innovations include immersion in collaborative teaching and the development of learning communities. She shares a course with a Psychology Professor, “Literature and Psychology.” Professor Gaffney has been awarded two Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence, one in Teaching and the second in Scholarship and Creative Activities.  She has been honored by the Westchester Community College Foundation with its Award for Excellence in Teaching. A supporter of student activities, she mentors students preparing for the Beacon Conference and serves as Faculty Advisor to a number of student organizations. She has also been advisor for several scholarly student publications. She is often a featured speaker at workshops, conferences and professional meetings. Her dedication to her work, her students and the College makes her an extraordinary role model.

The Distinguished Service Professorship honors and recognizes extraordinary service. Candidates must have demonstrated substantial distinguished service not only at the campus and the State University, but also at the community, regional and State levels. Further, many candidates for appointment have rendered influential service contributing at the national and international levels. Service must exceed the work generally considered to be a part of a candidate’s basic professional work and should include service that exceeds that for which professors are normally compensated. It must also extend over multiple years and, very importantly, must involve the application of intellectual skills drawing from the candidate’s scholarly and research interests to issues of public concern. Receiving this rank today are:

  • Steven R. Keeler – Professor Keeler is the Director of Media Communications degree programs, and the chairperson of the Cayuga Community College’s Humanities and Communications Division. He is known for his leadership and innovation in media and arts education, technology, online learning, curriculum development, and entrepreneurship education.  His commitment to the larger community is also substantial. He has taken on leadership roles in regional and statewide organizations, including NEA/NY, the Auburn Public Theater and Auburn Regional Media Access Center, among others.  He has been honored nationally and regionally for his achievements. In 1999 and 2001, the Society of Broadcast Engineers honored him as National Educator of the Year.  In 2000 he received a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. In 2001 and 2005, he was a finalist for the American Association of Community Colleges' David R. Pierce Faculty Technology Award. In 2005 he received Cayuga’s Faculty Award for Excellence, and in 2006, he was named College Technology Educator of the Year by the Technology Association of Central New York.
  • Mary Beth Orrange – Professor Orrange has been teaching at Erie Community College for over 30 years in the Math Department. During this time, besides the thousands of students instructed, she has had a vast array of contributions to the College and higher education. Three examples of her involvement in strengthening the higher education community at ECC include:  1) Leading the implementation of the Title III Grant from 2005-2010.This grant initiative changed the front door process at the college with improved placement testing, student support services, early alert, web-based student information and other retention activities; 2) Professor Orrange and the Math Unit redesigned, through comprehensive assessment, the math remedial education at ECC. Students are now advised for math remediation using a decision rubric focused on STEM and NON-STEM Degree Career Paths. This has reduced the number of remedial math requirements and time to graduation; and 3) Professor Orrange has been the Middle States Coordinator for the past two years at ECC. She has been an evaluator for the Commission for years, participating on many team visits. Through these activitites, Professor Orrange’s tenacity has further enhanced the commitment to sustainability of Institutional Planning and Assessment.  She co-chairs the IPA Committtee with the EVPAA and CAFO.
  • Raymond E. Petersen – Encouraging efficacy is at the heart of everything that Dr. Petersen does as a Political Science Professor at Jefferson Community College. Through his efforts in developing a prospectus for the Center for Community Studies at JCC, coordinating its Speaker Series, and now as the director, Dr. Petersen has helped to empower students, faculty and staff in conducting and providing research and forums on community, regional and international issues. Dr. Petersen’s service as delegate to the Faculty Council of Community Colleges includes initiatives to strengthen student transfer, academic standards and integrity, and shared governance at all the community colleges within SUNY. He has been instrumental in strategic planning for JCC, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Kinney Drugs Foundation, and many non-profit organizations. His testimony on energy policy has helped to influence regulation of the Power Authority of New York. Through the student organization Polis, which Dr. Petersen founded and advises, students have organized and held forums on issues such as a daycare on campus, elections, war, budget crisis, and healthcare reform. Professor Petersen’s service is far reaching.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. As of Fall 2018, more than 424,000 students were enrolled in a degree program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY served 1.4 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs in the 2017-18 academic year. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Its students and faculty make significant contributions to research and discovery, contributing to a $1.6 billion research portfolio. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

Share this:


Holly Liapis
Email the Office of Communications