SUNY Board of Trustees Appoints 18 Faculty to Distinguished Ranks

May 13, 2015

Albany – The State University of New York Board of Trustees recently approved the appointments of 18 faculty to the Distinguished Faculty Rank (DFR). All distinguished faculty in active service within SUNY are also members of the SUNY Distinguished Academy.

SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall said, “One of the highest honors we have as a Board of Trustees is to recognize SUNY’s leading faculty with one of our distinguished faculty rankings. These professors are innovators and trailblazers in their chosen field, teaching and mentoring students while advancing groundbreaking research and discovery in New York’s communities as well as world-wide. Congratulations to all of our newest distinguished faculty.”

“The SUNY distinguished faculty bring students the best of SUNY – quality teaching and instruction, innovative research opportunities, and engaging community service,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “ We are proud to recognize the leadership of our distinguished faculty and the extraordinary impact they have on SUNY students and campus communities. Many thanks and congratulations to this most recent class of distinguished faculty.”

Since the program's inception in 1963, SUNY has appointed 1,023 faculty to the distinguished ranks, as follows, including these most recent appointments: 352 Distinguished Professorships; 301 Distinguished Service Professorships; 365 Distinguished Teaching Professorships; and 5 Distinguished Librarian Professorships. More information about SUNY’s faculty award program is available online.

Distinguished Professorship

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 are:

  • Istvan Kecskes, University at Albany – Dr. Kecskes was appointed Professor of Educational Theory and Practice at the University at Albany’s School of Education in 1999. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Kecskes has amassed a strong record of scholarly productivity, international leadership, and academic influence. In over 40 articles and proceedings, 10 books, six edited collections, and 21 book chapters, Dr. Kecskes has provided integrative insights that span many related fields, such as, linguistics, multilinguism, language development, language education, and pragmatics. He has delivered more than 40 keynote and plenary presentations at conferences around the world since 2007, just one of many indications of the high regard in which he is held by national and international colleagues. He is the elected president of two academic associations, the American Pragmatics Association and the Chinese-as-a-Second-Language Research Association. He is the recipient of the Excellence in Research Award from the University at Albany, and the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
  • Jessica Fridrich, Binghamton University – Dr. Fridrich is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Binghamton University. Her main research areas are steganography, the science and art of message hiding, and the forensics of digital multimedia. In 2009, in addition to her many research papers, she published “Steganography in Digital Media: Principles, Algorithms, and Application,” (Cambridge University Press), which has rapidly become the seminal graduate textbook in steganography. In the areas of forensics, she has developed a now patented method for “finger printing” digital photos so that photos can be reliably linked with a camera. Her method is the only one that has been officially approved for use as evidence in forensics cases in courts of law. In total, Professor Fridrich’s research has resulted in over 150 refereed publications, which have been cited over 12,000 times, and seven patents, all of which have been successfully commercialized.
  • John M. Canty, Jr., University at Buffalo – Dr. Canty is the Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University at Buffalo. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Physicians, and the American Heart Association. Dr. Canty’s pioneering research is defined by the breadth and interdisciplinary approach he brings to it, from physiology and biochemistry to stem cell biology and nanotechnology. Prior to his work, the phenomenon of myocardial hibernation was misclassified and misunderstood. Through his development of a unique animal model and inventive and elegant experiments, he challenged this misconception and redefined the paradigm of hibernation and sudden cardiac death. Professor Canty has achieved international prominence for his distinguished scholarly work and is a guiding light for young people working in the areas of cardiovascular disease. His research has impacted millions of patients with severe ischemic cardiomyopathy.
  • Steven R. Levine, Downstate Medical Center – Dr. Levine is a Professor of Neurology and Emergency Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. He is an internationally-renowned researcher, prominent scholar, major contributor, clinical trialist, and thought leader in the study of cerebrovascular disease. Continuously National Institute of Health (NIH) funded for three decades (over $13.7M direct funding), since joining SUNY in 2010, he initiated several SUNY-wide clinical trial networks. He has published more than 170 original peer-reviewed papers and made significant distinguished advances in stroke treatment and epidemiology. He co-authored the seminal/landmark, NIH-funded t-PA stroke study that resulted in the first FDA-approved treatment for stroke. He linked crack cocaine use to stroke and pioneered telemedicine for stroke, creating a new research and clinical field. He has been an invited lecturer on five continents, served on Executive Committees, Editorial Boards, and Guideline Writing Committees, mentored over 30 stroke fellows (many academic faculty), received numerous national research awards/honors from major organizations/peers for research and teaching, and consults to NIH (grant reviews), AHA/ASA, NYSDOH, and industry.
  • Henri Tiedge, Downstate Medical Center – Dr. Tiedge is a Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology and Professor of Neurology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. He is a world-renowned neuroscientist whose ground-breaking discoveries explain how regulatory RNAs control brain function. His research has transformed understanding of how RNA regulation underlies higher brain functions such as memory and cognition, and how RNA dysregulation causes neurological disease. His national and international preeminence and reputation are reflected in the numerous awards and honors that he has received. He has enjoyed substantial and uninterrupted funding from the DOD, NSF, and NIH, among others, for the entirety of his 22-year career. Dr. Tiedge has organized a number of scientific conferences, including a National Academy of Sciences Colloquium at the NAS Beckman Center in Irvine, California. He also fosters international scientific exchange via repeated invitation as a visiting professor to Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. He is the President of the Robert F. Furchgott Society, inaugurated by the late SUNY Downstate Medical Center Nobel Laureate in 2005 to promote the research of exceptional junior scientists.
  • Michael Oberg, SUNY Geneseo – Dr. Oberg is a Professor of History at SUNY Geneseo. He is one of the leading national and international authorities on the intersections of colonial English and Native American societies. He has published six books with premier university presses and is under contract for two more, in addition to a variety of seminal articles and other publications. Dr. Oberg is a master ethnohistorian who mines the scarce historical record for Native American voices and consequently breaks new ground in much of his published work. The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand, for instance, examines the well-known Eurocentric “Lost Colony” of Roanoke from the perspective of the Algonquian people. Similarly, in his solely authored textbook, rather than attempting to survey all Native American societies, as is the convention, he uses a smaller number of societies as a lens for a more in-depth and productive study of 500 years of interactions with Europeans and their descendents. As a measure of the depth of Dr. Oberg’s knowledge and the care he takes in his research, he has been invited by both the U.S. Justice Department and the Haudenosaunee nations to write expert reports.
  • Gary Waller, Purchase College – Dr. Waller is a Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies at SUNY Purchase. He is a prolific scholar whose work encompasses a range of academic fields: late medieval, renaissance, and early modern English Literature and Popular Culture, Shakespeare, Theater History, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, and Literary Theory. He has published more than 20 books, written nearly 100 book chapters and scholarly articles, and presented scores of guest lectures and conference papers. Early in his career, Professor Waller's pioneering scholarship opened the established literary canon to include the work of women authors like Mary Sidney and Mary Wroth. In the middle of his career, while an academic administrator, he organized and authored work that integrated developments in theory into the curriculum and pedagogy of literary studies. Dr. Waller's most recent work on the Virgin Mary in late medieval and early modern literature and popular culture brings together his interests in literature, theology, psychoanalysis, and popular culture. All of this work has earned him a national and international reputation.
  • Dennis Assanis, Stony Brook University – Dr. Assanis is the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Stony Brook University. He is a world-renowned scientist, engineer, and educator. He is a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and the Society of Automotive Engineering. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2008. Dr. Assanis has published over 200 refereed journal articles, 135 in refereed conference proceedings, and 70 in other conference proceedings. He holds six patents and has edited five books. His research in internal combustion engines and automotive powertrain engineering is at the forefront of energy research, and is highly respected all over the world. The importance of his work has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards and honors. Dr. Assanis has mentored more than 50 Ph.D. students in their dissertation completion, and in mentoring these students, he has significantly helped to foster the intergenerational transmission of the passion and skills needed to conduct ground-breaking research inquiry.
  • Robert K. Lazarsfeld, Stony Brook University – Dr. Lazarsfeld is a Professor of Mathematics at Stony Brook University. He is one of the great algebraic geometers of our time, having made numerous deep and influential contributions to many themes of this classical field, central for mathematics. His scholarly achievements are marked with numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, membership at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Distinguished Professorship at the University of Michigan, and very recently the Steele Prize of the American Mathematical Society. Dr. Lazarsfeld is also a great teacher, advisor, and mentor who has brought up generations of students and postdoctorals, many of whom have become prominent mathematicians in their own right. He provides indispensable service to a broad mathematical community by organizing various programs and workshops, editing and refereeing for a number of math journals, and serving as an external reviewer for various institutes and departments.
  • Nancy J. Tomes, Stony Brook University – Dr. Tomes is a Professor of History who has been teaching at Stony Brook University since 1978. She is one of the nation’s most widely recognized and respected figures in the History of Medicine. In her innovative and prolific scholarly career, she has published three major monographs, four edited volumes, 18 peer-reviewed journal articles, 20 peer-reviewed book chapters, and seven major review essays, and has produced numerous public oriented publications and online information sites. Dr. Tomes’ monumental 1998 book The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life (Harvard University Press) changed the way historians and the public alike think of germ theory and won her the field’s two top academic prizes, the Welch Medal (American Association for the History of Medicine) and Watson-Davis Prize (History of Science Society). She continues to inform as a public intellectual about popular and governmental responses to medicine, most recently in media commentary about the Ebola epidemic. Dr. Tomes’ newest book project, Remaking the American Patient: How Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine turned Patients into Consumers (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), is expected to generate another broad debate about the social and political landscape of American healthcare. Professor Tomes has won numerous prestigious research grants and fellowships. She served as 2012-2014 President of the American Association for the History of Medicine, the field’s chief professional organization. In recognition of her wide intellectual impact, she received the 2011 Arthur J. Viseltear Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in Public Health History of American Public Health Association.

Distinguished Teaching Professorship

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.

  • Mark L. Fowler, Binghamton University – Dr. Fowler is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Binghamton University. From his first semester on campus in fall 1999, Dr. Fowler has excelled as a teacher both inside and outside the classroom. Inside the classroom, he has excelled in a variety of settings: from teaching Binghamton’s largest undergraduate course to small, challenging graduate courses. Outside the classroom he selflessly devotes much time to helping students. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and twice awarded the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department’s Outstanding Faculty Instructor Award. He has made significant contributions aimed at improving pedagogy: employing innovative teaching methods and publishing papers about them; developing exceptional course materials and making them openly available online; improving overall pedagogy by leading a complete restructuring of ECE curricula and restructuring ECE graduate programs to better serve educational outcomes. He has served on numerous advisory committees on campus and has consulted outside of SUNY on the assessment of educational outcomes.
  • Keith Williams, Downstate Medical Center – Dr. Williams is a Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at Downstate Medical Center. He is an internationally-recognized neuroscientist and scholar who joined the campus in 1999. He has developed novel and valuable approaches to teaching that epitomize the SUNY Downstate Medical goal of interactive teaching, student participation, and mastery of complex concepts. Students benefit greatly from his guidance, leadership, and teaching skills in ways that are integral to the development of future physicians. He is a role model for faculty and is consistently ranked by students among the best faculty in the preclinical years. He has received several awards, including Teacher of the Year and Outstanding Educator of the Year of the Preclinical Faculty. Professor Williams played a key role in SUNY Downstate Medical’s recent curriculum renewal, serving on the Steering Committee and the Executive Steering Committee, and he currently serves as Unit Director for the first segment of the Medical School curriculum.
  • Robert R. Rogers, SUNY Fredonia – Dr. Rogers is a Professor of Mathematical Sciences at SUNY Fredonia. He joined the faculty in 1987 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2003. His expertise is in the areas of functional analysis and the history of mathematics and its relation to pedagogy. His colleagues and students alike admire his unique, effective style of teaching, and his willingness to think outside the box in service of the learning process. Dr. Rogers is extraordinarily generous with his time outside the classroom, serving, among other things, as editor of the New York State Mathematics Teachers’ Journal (NYSMTJ); as president of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State; as a representative in the New York State STEM Education Collaborative; as chair and governor of the Mathematical Association of America’s (MAA) Seaway Section; and as co-founder of Project PRIME (Professional Resources in Mathematics Education). He has co-authored a textbook in the SUNY Open Textbook Program, published 13 articles in refereed journals, four book chapters, and 11 articles as editor of the NYSMTJ. In recognition of his accomplishments, Dr. Rogers has earned the Fredonia President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the MAA Seaway Section Distinguished Teaching Award, and the MAA Meritorious Service Award – Seaway Section.
  • Carleen Graham, SUNY Potsdam  – Dr. Graham is a Professor of Opera and Director of the Crane Opera Ensemble. She teaches Advanced Performance Practice, Directing Musical Theatre, Opera Literature, and Teaching Opera to Children. She is the director of the Center for Undergraduate Research, as part of a $1.6 million U.S. Department of Education Strengthening Institutions Grant (2009-2013). She secured a patron gift of $100,000 to create the Opera Education Outreach Program for first-time students attending opera productions. She has collaborated with internationally-known opera singer and alumna, Stephanie Blythe, in founding the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar (2012) to promote enriched artistry in emerging professional singers and collaborative pianists. Student evaluations consistently reveal that Dr. Graham is enthusiastic about teaching, is committed to a student-centered learning process, provides a nurturing learning environment, and creates an atmosphere of creative decision-making that is infectious. Colleagues regard her as a collaborative colleague with significant influence on the direction of opera education.
  • Ronald M. Labuz, Mohawk Valley Community College – Dr. Labuz is a Professor of Graphic Design at MVCC. His career spans over three decades of inspired teaching that engages students in creative, experiential, project-based learning. A full professor since 1991, Professor Labuz expertly teaches a myriad of courses, and compassionately mentors former and current students within the Graphic Arts program, in which he serves as coordinator. Dr. Labuz led the total redesign of the art program and serves as a teaching fellow in MVCC’s New Faculty Institute. He currently serves on 16 separate college-wide committees as well as the Faculty Council of Community Colleges. He is the recipient of Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Professional Service, Faculty Service, and Scholarship and Creative Activities. Dr. Labuz has published 15 books, including Faces of the Mohawk Valley which features MVCC students. He has the heart of a teacher, and the testimonials of countless students and colleagues spanning 34 years who powerfully attest to this.

Distinguished Service Professorship

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:

  • Barbara G. Delano, Downstate Medical Center – Dr. Delano is Chair and Professor in the Department of Community Health Services at Downstate Medical Center. Her service covers a range of areas in public health and medicine. Credentialed in internal medicine, nephrology, and public health, Dr. Delano has focused much effort on the prevention and control of end-stage renal disease, especially among underserved populations. A national leader in promoting home dialysis, Dr. Delano was responsible for the establishment of the first inner-city home hemodialysis unit. She has worked tirelessly with patients, their families, and their health care providers to deal with the stresses of the disease and the treatment. Dr. Delano contributed to the development of the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and in preparing for the school’s initial accreditation in 2010 and re-accreditation in 2015. Dr. Delano is the author of 83 articles in peer-reviewed scientific medical journals, and has been the recipient of numerous research grants, including one from the Health Care Financing Administration for $2.45 million. Professor Delano’s exceptional service has been recognized by numerous awards and honors. She was inducted into the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society, and received the Clarence and Mary Dennis Dedicated Service Award, and the Master Teacher Award in Preventive Medicine, both from the Alumni Association, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine.
  • Sharon A. Brangman, Upstate Medical University – Dr. Brangman is a Professor of medicine and Division Chief of Geriatric Medicine at SUNY Upstate. An international leader in the field of geriatrics, she has established unique clinical programs that enhance the care of the elderly, such as the “ACE” Team (Acute Care of the Elderly) at University Hospital. She has contributed to University Hospital’s nursing care for the elderly, leading to the receipt of the Nurses Improving Care for Health System Elders certification and the establishment of an emergency department for older adults at the Community Campus. She served as an expert panelist at a White House Conference on Aging and Agenda Development, and was a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s project “Building Health Systems for People with Chronic Illnesses.” She was President of the American Geriatric Society in 2010/11, and served as Chair of its Board of Directors in 2011/12. She is a recipient of two SUNY Health Network of Excellence Grants awarded in 2014. Dr. Brangman has received numerous awards. She is a leading advocate for care of the elderly in Central New York, a highly sought after clinician, and the consultant of choice for medical professionals caring for aging parents.
  • Karen Johnson-Weiner, SUNY Potsdam – Dr. Johnson-Weiner is a Professor of Linguistic Anthropology at SUNY Potsdam. She has international prominence as an author and consultant in Amish and Mennonite Studies known for her ability to “give voice” to Amish concerns. For example, she has committed significant personal time and resources to assist the Amish in understanding legal documents, proceedings, and proposals; and has assisted attorneys in understanding the cultural and religious practices of the Amish and how these impact the Amish point of view. She frequently provides expert commentary in interviews and national broadcasts. She is the primary author of the John Hopkins Press scholarly series on Anabaptist Studies and principal commentator on the PBS American Experience television series titled “The Amish.” Dr. Johnson-Weiner has published several textbooks that have become standard in the field; and she is a recipient of substantial research grants including NEH (2005-2007) and the Spencer Foundation (2001).

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three 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 opportunities, visit

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