SUNY Board of Trustees Appoints 21 Faculty to Distinguished Ranks

May 10, 2012

Albany – The State University of New York Board of Trustees today approved the appointments of 21 faculty to distinguished ranks – the highest system honors conferred upon SUNY instructional faculty. 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 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 and their vast achievements within their respective fields is impressive and highly commendable.”

“In bestowing our highest faculty honor, we proudly recognize the extraordinary achievements of these individuals and thank them for their continued commitment to excellence," said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “I look forward to working more closely with this group as they join the SUNY Distinguished Academy.”

Since the program’s inception in 1963, SUNY has appointed 942 faculty to distinguished ranks, as follows, including these most recent appointments: 312 Distinguished Professorships; 284 Distinguished Service Professorships; 341 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:

  • Paresh Dandona – Dr. Dandona, Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is a world renowned physician scientist who has devoted his career to understanding and treating endocrine diseases, especially diabetes and obesity.  He is Chief of Endocrinology and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Director of the Diabetes-Endocrinology Center of Western New York. Dr. Dandona has distinguished himself through his translational research. His discoveries of the body’s inflammatory responses to obesity and the anti-inflammatory effects and cardiovascular effects of insulin have been ground-breaking. His work demonstrated a link between diet and inflammatory responses in the body. He published a landmark report on the anti-inflammatory and potential anti-atherogenic effect of insulin as a new paradigm in treating diabetes. Dr. Dandona’s discoveries have had consistent implications for improving human health. 
  • Peter Rogerson – Dr. Rogerson joined the Department of Geography at the University at Buffalo in 1986.  He is known internationally for his work in both population geography (demography) and spatial statistics.  He has edited two books, and has authored or co-authored three books; one of the three is a best-selling textbook now in its third edition, and the other is a summary of the subfield of spatial surveillance, which he was instrumental in developing.  He has published over 90 refereed journal papers, and has received several prestigious research grants and awards, including NSF's Presidential Young Investigator Award.  His current grant from NSF was ranked "high priority funding" and focuses upon estimating the effects that phenomena such as crime and disease have on surrounding areas.
  • Edward Steinfeld – Dr. Steinfeld is internationally known as a lead researcher on accessible environments and inclusive design. Director of the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA) at the University at Buffalo, Dr. Steinfeld has directed more than 30 sponsored projects including three five-year Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers on Universal Design in the Built Environment that total over $13.5 million. He has published over 150 scholarly articles/reports as well as several books on inclusive design, and is the holder of three patents. Dr. Steinfeld was Secretary of American National Standards Institute ANSI A117 and the CABO/ANSI A117, the committees that develop the consensus standards used for accessible design throughout the United States. Dr. Steinfeld is one of the developers of the Principles of Universal Design, a set of guidelines that are widely used to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more usable products and environments.  He is a founding member of the Global Universal Design Commission, Inc., (GUDC) which was established to develop Universal Design (UD) standards for buildings, products and services.
  • Kenneth Dill Stony Brook University’s Dr. Dill has advanced our understanding of chemistry and physics of proteins. He has helped to explain the folding code – how an amino acid sequence encodes a native structure; the folding problem – how proteins fold so quickly; protein stability – how proteins are unfolded by acids, denaturants, and heating; and sequence space – how proteins are evolutionarily related. He is known internationally for his pioneering work on the physical forces that give rise to the structures and properties of protein molecules. Professor Dill was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008, received the first Hans Neurath Award from the Protein Society in 1998, and has been both the National Lecturer and President of the Biophysical Society. Professor Dill moved from the School of Pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco in 2010 and established the Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology at Stony Brook University. The new Interdisciplinary Center, under his leadership, has brought together experts in such fields as mathematics, genetics, biochemistry, engineering, and computer sciences to achieve breakthroughs in biomedical research and health care. 
  • Eugene Feinberg Stony Brook University’s Dr. Feinberg is nationally and internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of operations research and its applications.  For his outstanding lifetime research achievements, he has been elected as a Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS) – the largest operations research society in the world. He is also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the National Technical University of Ukraine and the Traveling Fellow award from the London Mathematical Society. Dr. Feinberg is the Stony Brook principle investigator of the Long Island Smart Energy Corridor, a $25 million smart grid demonstration project awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to the Long Island Power Authority and two SUNY campuses.  In addition to DOE, his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, other federal and state agencies, and by industry. He serves on the editorial boards for two leading operations research journals, on an advisory board of an applied mathematics center in Australia, and has served as a council member for the INFORMS Applied Probability Society.
  • Maria Hepel – Dr. Hepel, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at SUNY Potsdam, has attained national and international recognition primarily for her important work on piezoelectric sensors, quantum conductance of nanowires, and environmental remediation processes. At last count she had some 148 peer-reviewed publications in leading journals in her field.  Her articles have appeared in such venues as the Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Electrochimica Acta, the Journal of Physical Chemistry, and Journal of the Electrochemical Society. Her record of external funding is also impressive for a campus, which until recently focused principally on classroom teaching. In the last three years she has been awarded $804,000 in grants. She has been an active presenter of her research at conferences, listing some 342 presentations and nearly 70 invited lectures.
  • M. Stanley Whittingham – In his 30+ year career, Binghamton University Professor Whittingham has been a pioneer in the development of Lithium ion batteries and an inspiration to the next generation of chemists and materials scientists. With over 200 publications in leading scholarly journals and 16 patents, he has earned a national and international reputation as a prolific and truly innovative scientist.  His research in the area of synthesis and characterization of novel transition metal oxides for energy storage and conversion, separations, or as sensors has been continuously supported since his arrival in Binghamton with over $7M in federal research grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. His “world leading” work in the development of materials for batteries emphasized novel approaches to synthesis, solid state characterization, and unique molecular design. 

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:

  • Joseph Sprague – Dr. Sprague is a professor of Chemistry in the Natural Sciences Department at SUNY Cobleskill and he consistently surpasses the criteria for excellence in teaching, as measured by his skill in teaching techniques, representative materials, his scholarship, professional growth, service to students, mentoring of faculty and service to the campus community. In addition, he sets high academic standards, clearly conveys course requirements to his students, and evaluates student performance using a variety of methods. He is known as a superb lecturer with a talent to relate chemistry to practical applications in language that everyone can understand.
  • George Vas – Dr. Vas, a nationally recognized educator in the field of clinical neurophysiology, joined the neurology faculty at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 1975 and has provided dedicated service to the students, residents, fellows and patients for the past 37 years. Professor of Clinical Neurology, Dr. Vas is recognized on a national scale for his expertise in the interpretation of electroencephalograms (EEG’s) and evoked potentials, areas in which he has published in classic textbooks. Acknowledged twice by the American Academy of Neurology with the A.B. Baker Award for his teaching contribution, his enthusiasm for neurology is contagious and is in large part responsible for many of his students pursuing careers in neurology. 
  • Julie Newell – Professor Newell joined the SUNY Fredonia faculty in 1990, and she currently serves as professor of voice and as coordinator of the Opera program. Professor Newell has consistency gone beyond the call of duty in providing services to students in venues such as the Hillman Opera, the Student Opera Theatre Association, and the Western New York Chamber Orchestra. Known for her exacting academic standards and profound concern for individual instruction, Professor Newell has developed a host of innovative programs for students, including international studies in Japan and Italy. 
  • Beth McCoy – Professor McCoy joined the SUNY Geneseo faculty in 1997. Both students and other faculty extol her generosity as a mentor, and note that what they learn from her stays with them long after they leave her classroom or office. Professor McCoy teaches African-American literature, as well as a Humanities core requirement, and sections of a required first-year writing class. She is highly skilled at bringing everyone in her classroom into the conversation regardless of their background or inclination to tackle difficult questions. Professor McCoy sets a high bar and assists her students in achieving beyond their own expectations. She has been successful in adapting this model to campus-wide teach-ins, which she introduced as a method of engaging the Geneseo community in national and local issues related to race, identity and privilege. 
  • Martin Lecker – Professor Lecker has been a member of the Rockland Community College Business Department since 1985. He is known for innovations in the areas of course and program development, educational technology, and student mentoring. Dr. Lecker has left his mark on the College by teaching over eighteen courses across four disciplines. His leadership propelled the creation of an A.S. in Business Administration degree and his course development serves as a model for web-enhanced and online courses. Dr. Lecker is an exceptional teacher who has profoundly shaped the lives and careers of scores of students. He has published numerous articles in both national and international journals including, Journal of Business Ethics, Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations, Insurance Ethics for a More Ethical World, Teachers College Record, Review of Business, and Colleague. 

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:

  • Lynn Anderson – A noted authority in outdoor and therapeutic recreation, SUNY Cortland Professor Anderson was department chair for twelve years, leading strategic planning and successful accreditation visits. She received grants from the New York State Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities to establish a statewide inclusive recreation resource center; and from the Christopher Reeve Foundation, for “Inclusion U,” a national best practices inclusive recreation training program. She engages students in service learning at the YWCA, Cortland Youth Bureau, Greek Peak Adaptive Snowsports and Lime Hollow Nature Center. She serves on advisory and editorial boards in her field. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the profession, Dr. Anderson received the New York State Therapeutic Society 2011 Member of the Year Award. 
  • Hassaram Bakhru – Dr. Bakhru joined the University at Albany faculty in 1970, and is currently a Professor of Nanoscience in the University’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. He has also served since 1972 as Director of the University’s Ion Beam Laboratory, a research facility that has supported collaborative research and training programs involving scientists based at external industrial and academic institutions as well as in departments at UAlbany. Dr. Bakhru served for ten years as Chair of the Department of Physics, from 1994 to 2004. During this period, he performed an instrumental role in establishing and growing Albany’s world renowned nanotech initiative, and he was especially important in the creation of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. He has served as Chair of the College’s Nanoscience Constellation since it was established, in 2004. In addition to an outstanding internal service record, Dr. Bakhru has provided important and enduring contributions to the larger scientific and educational communities through a variety of collaborations, partnerships, and service activities. Over more than four decades of service, he has remained active and productive as a researcher, teacher, and mentor.
  • Jack Croxton – Dr. Jack Croxton joined the SUNY Fredonia faculty in 1979 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1993. His expertise in the areas of social psychology and attribution processes animate his extensive local and international service. While chairing the department of psychology for over 14 years, he also served, among numerous other roles, as chair of the convocation committee; as co-chair of the Middle States Decennial Review; as Acting Dean of Natural and Social Sciences; as founding Director of Campus Assessment; and as founding Director of the Office of Student Creative Activity and Research. His international impact is highlighted by two Fulbright Awards (Bulgaria and Russia) from which he has generated an ongoing relationship between SUNY Fredonia and St. Petersburg State University in Russia. He has also served as an external reviewer for the psychology program at Tallinn University in Estonia and has shared his research at numerous international venues.
  • Linda House – Over her 24 years as chair, Professor House has transformed the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences at SUNY Geneseo from a small program into a powerhouse of academic excellence as well as a service provider to the larger community through its highly respected Speech and Hearing Clinic, which offers community members professional services at a nominal cost and affords students clinical experience of the highest quality. In other areas of service, Professor House was instrumental in initiating an ESOL program for Geneseo’s international students; took on leadership roles on campus committees and in shared governance; held an array of positions in SUNY-wide service; and provided supervision to nearly forty clinical fellows at the state and national level which testifies to a long history of selfless contributions to her profession.
  • Judith LaRosa – As one of the founders of the SUNY Downstate School of Public Health, Dr. LaRosa mustered her scholarly and intellectual skills to assure the creation of a school with a diverse student body and faculty, and focused on urban and immigrant health. To assure the steady growth of this school, she assumed added teaching responsibilities, served as Interim Chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences, built important linkages to community groups, and worked endless hours on the self-study document that led to the school’s national accreditation. She has mentored and guided numerous students and junior faculty who have greatly benefited from her example of exceptional service. At the same time, she has dedicated herself to important research endeavors and extensively devoted herself to service in the university, the community, and to national organizations. Dr. LaRosa has been the recipient of numerous awards recognizing many years of outstanding service. 
  • Lauren Lieberman – Dr. Lieberman has been teaching in Adapted Physical Education at SUNY Brockport for 17 years. In 1996 she started Camp Abilities, a sports camp for children with visual impairments. The Camp Abilities model has now been replicated in ten states, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Ireland with many more planned for the future (including Finland). Thousands of children have been exposed to sports and several thousand professional preparation teachers have been trained to teach children with visual impairments as a result of these camps and the research that has come out of these camps. She is also one of the world’s leading scholars related to physical activity and children with visual impairments. She has written 13 books and published over 84 articles in this area and on the area of inclusion. She has presented at conferences all over the world as a keynote speaker and guest speaker in the area of inclusion and on physical activity and motor development of children with sensory impairments.  She was honored in March as the 2012 National Professional of the Year through the Adapted Physical Activity Council of the American Association for Health, Physical Education, and Dance and will be honored with the prestigious Access Award from the American Foundation of the Blind in May 2012 for founding Camp Abilities, and making sports and recreation accessible to children with visual impairments. 
  • Ruth Weinstock – Through her efforts in founding the Joslin Diabetes Center at SUNY Upstate’s University Hospital, Dr. Weinstock has transformed diabetes care in New York State. At the same time, her work with the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital has become a model for diabetes care that the VA system has adopted nationwide. The Upstate Joslin Diabetes Center, which Professor Weinstock directs, cares for over 20,000 children and adults from more than 20 counties in Upstate New York. It includes a staff of thirteen adult and pediatric endocrinologists, as well as many support staff to carry out the mission of the program. Under her leadership, this program has blossomed and continues to grow at an annual rate of at least 8 percent per year.  Complementing her clinical accomplishments, Dr. Weinstock has consistently demonstrated excellence in research. She is presently funded by five NIH grants and the Helmsley Charitable Trust, and is the site principle investigator on several industry sponsored clinical trials.
  • Bill Baker – An environmental activist and recipient of both the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service,Professor Baker has been a teaching member of the faculty at Rockland Community College since 1970. At Rockland Community College, his priorities have always been to have students “be all that they can be,” successfully meet their goals, and transfer to four-year institutions of higher learning. Professor Baker has been active in environmental activities for over forty years, ranging from course/program development in environmental studies, to activities dealing with saving/protecting the environment. Numerous environmental initiatives of his were implemented, with several becoming laws in Rockland County and the State, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award of the County of Rockland.
  • Francis Battisti – For over 40 years, at Broome Community College, Professor Battisti has offered students, staff, and the greater community inspiration and commitment to educational excellence. His vision of the educational process is one of challenge, exploration, and enlightenment. As an educator, Dr. Battisti has consistently believed in and practiced the principles of Service Leadership, the natural sense of serving others. Beyond the campus, Dr. Battisti’s service has included membership on numerous community boards, assisting not-for-profits to reach their stated goals, offering inspirational presentations throughout the community.  Dr. Battisti has also lectured throughout the United States and abroad. His presentations at major conferences spring from his academic preparation and relate to topics such as service leadership, conflict resolution, gerontology issues, health promotion, and childhood obesity.

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

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