Rockwell Hall in fall

Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony: October 13


Seventeen Buffalo State faculty and staff members will be recognized with President’s and Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence and SUNY Distinguished Faculty ranks for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of the college, the State University of New York, and the greater community during the Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, October 13, at 12:15 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall.

The ceremony also recognizes the significant awards and major grants of faculty and staff members and welcomes all new employees to campus. The entire campus community is invited to participate in this 11th annual event.

SUNY distinguished faculty ranks recognize consummate professionalism, groundbreaking scholarship, exceptional instruction, and the breadth and significance of service contributions. Appointments constitute a promotion to the State University’s highest academic rank and are conferred solely by the State University Board of Trustees.

Headshot of Valentin Brimkov


Valentin E. Brimkov, Ph.D.

SUNY Distinguished Professor
Valentin E. Brimkov, Ph.D.

Valentin Brimkov, distinguished professor of mathematics, has demonstrated extraordinary academic ability and ongoing commitment to the highest standards. His remarkable productivity as a scholar, in conjunction with the tremendous service he has provided to his field, has established him as an international thought leader in applied mathematics and theoretical computer science.

Brimkov’s research areas include discrete and computational mathematics, mathematical foundations of image analysis, and applications of mathematics. His expertise has enabled him to make significant contributions to such areas as digital geometry and typology, graph theory, polyhedral combinatorics, combinatorics on words, theory of algorithms and problem complexity, mathematics education, and mathematical applications in biosciences and medical imaging.

Some of his most notable scientific contributions include development of analytical honeycomb geometry for raster and volume graphics, and obtaining cutting-edge results on the maximal clique problem on intersection graphs of convex polygons, as well as defining Fibonacci arrays, studying their extremal properties, and proposing optimally fast sequential and parallel algorithms for detecting 2D repetitions in two-dimensional arrays.

During Brimkov’s tenure at Buffalo State, his grant activities have raised more than $1.2 million in funding. He has edited or co-edited 18 books, published almost 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and delivered more than 90 presentations, including keynote addresses at mathematical conferences in Japan, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, and the Czech Republic. He is a long-term member of the steering committees of two major international conferences and a member of seven editorial boards of highly respected professional journals. He has also served as a guest editor for a number of international journals. 

A true leader in his field, Brimkov is also a devoted teacher. At Buffalo State, he has been heavily involved with mentoring student research. Over the years, his mentees have worked on more than 30 research projects, with most resulting as publications in reputable international journals and peer-reviewed conference proceedings.

Brimkov received the Buffalo State President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity in 2009 and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2012.

Nominator: Jane R. Cushman, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor, Mathematics

Headshot of Ilya Grinberg


Ilya Y. Grinberg, Ph.D.

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor
Ilya Y. Grinberg, Ph.D.

Ilya Grinberg, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of engineering technology, is an extraordinary teacher, scholar, and researcher and a valuable member of the Buffalo State and SUNY communities. Throughout his distinguished tenure with the Engineering Technology Department, he has imbued his students, both graduate and undergraduate, with valuable expertise and mentorship. He uses a variety of active learning pedagogies to engage his students, integrate real-world scenarios into his courses, and promote professionalism in his students.

Grinberg has designed 20 new courses during his tenure and has played a leadership role in several revisions of the electrical engineering technology programs (electronics and smart grid). He also developed an electrical power systems course offered on Coursera that has reached more than 91,000 learners. The course’s popularity stems from its presentation of challenging concepts in a way that is easily to comprehend, enabling students to understand the principles and vocabulary of the profession. The highly rated course is one of the top-ranking specializations among engineering courses on Coursera. He also developed the academic minor on energy systems and has taught professional development courses for National Grid and the New York Power Authority.

Grinberg’s excellent teaching and expertise is evident outside the classroom as well. He has served as director of electrical engineering technology since 2014, administering the academic program, advising students, and coordinating assessments and the accreditation process. He has received competitive grants and established the Smart Grid Laboratory, which has been recognized by the ABET program evaluation team as providing an exceptional facility that uses high-impact practices to engage students and prepare them academically for the workplace. The Smart Grid Laboratory supports undergraduate and graduate teaching and research conducted by students from Buffalo State as well as the University at Buffalo.

Grinberg has coauthored three books, published 12 peer-reviewed journal articles, and presented papers at 48 peer-reviewed conferences. His record demonstrates continuous productivity throughout his career. At the national level, he served in various leadership positions at the American Society for Engineering Education, and he currently serves as ABET commissioner representing the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He received the Buffalo State President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity in 2012 and the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities in 2016.

Nominator: Jill K. Singer, Ph.D., SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita


SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence provide systemwide recognition of consistently superior professional achievement. These awards underscore SUNY’s commitment to sustaining intellectual vibrancy, advancing the boundaries of knowledge, providing the highest quality of instruction, and serving the public good.

Headshot of Samuel DeJesus


Samuel DeJesus

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service
Samuel DeJesus

Samuel DeJesus, facility operations assistant 2 in the Events Management Office, demonstrates outstanding dedication to the Buffalo State community through his excellent job performance and reliably friendly service. He consistently goes above and beyond what is expected, and his colleagues have described innumerable acts of service and kindness that they have witnessed him perform.

DeJesus worked tirelessly to adjust the layout of campus dining and academic classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The timely manner in which he completed these tasks was vital for the campus to comply with health protocols and to prepare for the safe return of students. When distancing guidelines were lifted, he worked diligently to return the campus to full capacity in a short time in addition to carrying out his regular workload.

With a positive attitude, DeJesus goes the extra mile to help those in need. He has helped shovel out snowbound vehicles and load and unload food donations on a Saturday, and he made last-minute changes to his schedule to help move supplies for area refugees.

The Anthropology Department received a high level of service from DeJesus during its move from the Classroom Building to Buckham Hall. He made many special efforts and accommodations to move delicate items such as full skeletons and fragile pottery. The care he takes with exceptionally detailed work like this, combined with a positive and productive outlook, makes DeJesus stand out as an exemplary staff member.

Nominator: Bernadette K. Gilliam, Interim Director, Events Management

Headshot of Brian Meyer


Brian S. Meyer, B.A.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching
Brian S. Meyer, B.A.

Brian Meyer, lecturer of communication, has taught at Buffalo State since 1994, bringing him the distinction of being the longest-serving adjunct at the college. Throughout his impressive tenure, Meyer has brought professional expertise to students in a wide array of classes for more than 50 consecutive semesters. His experience also led him to serve as an adjunct liaison, a position in which he guided fellow adjuncts in their teaching approach in the classroom.

Students continually remark on the relevant content and inspiring discussions in his courses. This feedback reflects both his teaching ability and his expertise in the communication field. In the classroom, Meyer draws from his 40 years of experience in broadcast journalism and positions at WBEN-AM, the Buffalo News, and Good Morning Buffalo, as well as WBFO-FM, where he worked as senior director of news and public affairs from 2014 to 2018. While working in the newsroom, Meyer served as internship supervisor for more than 150 communication majors from colleges in the Buffalo area, including Buffalo State.

In his classes, Meyer explores a number of areas of study, including converging media writing, aural writing, integrating sound into broadcast scripts, field reporting tactics for broadcast journalists, effective interviewing techniques, and strategies for covering breaking news and crises.

His professional accomplishments are well recognized. During his tenure at WBFO, the station received three Associated Press awards for Best Radio News Operation in New York State. Meyer has also won more than a dozen Associated Press awards as a reporter and, in 2010, became one of the youngest inductees of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.

Nominator: Deborah A. Silverman, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor, Communication

Headshot of Bhakti Sharma


Bhakti Sharma, M.S.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service
Bhakti Sharma, M.S.

Bhakti Sharma, associate professor of art and design, has a long history of commitment, creative initiative, and dedication to Buffalo State and its students as well as to the greater Western New York community. She is a consummate professional and academic role model whose credentials, work ethic, energy, and vision sustain her work and bring prestige to Buffalo State and the SUNY system.

Sharma has been recognized for her tireless involvement on a local level by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, ’83, and is noted for her broad impact on the community. She is also recognized for her fundraising work with the Buffalo State College Foundation and for her work on substance abuse and mental health initiatives by a major health services provider. She has significant local involvement with the Buffalo Public Schools and more than a decade of volunteer service and board memberships to her credit. Her dynamic leadership as chair of the College Senate during the pandemic years of 2020‒2021 and 2021‒2022 set the tone for committees to accomplish meaningful goals in challenging times. She also served as the campus governance leader for the 2021‒2022 SUNY University Faculty Senate. At Buffalo State, she has served on the Middle States Commission for Higher Education Steering Committee and as chair of the governance group, and she participated in the institutional planning process as an active member of that committee. She received the President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College in 2019.

As an administrative leader, Sharma has been an advocate for efficient management of budgets in her department, for the development of a minor program in interior design studies and drafting technologies, and for the revision and implementation of the bachelor of fine arts program. She has been active in the recruitment of high school students and transfer students and serves as the reaccreditation coordinator for the program.

Sharma has a stellar academic record. She is a much-loved instructor and conscientious and thorough adviser to her students. Her teaching skill is strengthened by a long list of certificates for effective teaching and participation in leadership programs, professional development programs, applied learning experiences, and research into institutional effectiveness.

Nominator: Laura Hill Rao, M.S., Director, Civic and Community Engagement

Headshot of Susan McCartney


Susan A. McCartney, Ph.D.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Susan A. McCartney, Ph.D.

Susan McCartney, director of the Buffalo State Small Business Development Center (SBDC), has been an integral and dynamic leader on campus and in the community during her 30-year tenure at Buffalo State. Her boundless energy and passion for decision-making, problem-solving, and leadership are well known.

McCartney has served the SBDC at Buffalo State since its inception in 1984, assuming the role of director in 1990. She has overseen the center’s counseling of more than 14,000 clients and its creation of over 7,000 jobs, and she has assisted clients in investing over $324 million into their businesses and the local economy. With McCartney at the helm, the Buffalo State SBDC is consistently ranked as one of the best in New York State.

Her dedication to the campus community is reflected by her extensive involvement in academic committees at Buffalo State. Since 2013, she has served as special adviser to the provost for economic development. She has also served as chair of the College Judicial Board, a member of the College Planning Council, a member of the Economic Development and Cultural Development Advisory group, an adviser for Students in Free Enterprise, and the academic adviser to the Rowing Club. She has also chaired numerous search committees.

Students at Buffalo State have benefited greatly from McCartney’s tenure. She has led such courses as Small Business Management, Marketing and Advertising, Human Resource Management, Leadership, Readings in Entrepreneurship, Principles of Management, and Strategic Management, a business capstone course. She created the BSC Student INC.ubator, which provides a collaborative space for student entrepreneurial activities, including speakers, a resource library, and assistance with business-establishment processes. She has also offered a successful Entrepreneurship in the Arts program for more than a decade. This workshop series helps prepare students, faculty, and community members in artistic fields to market and sell their creations and services.

Nominator: Andrea L. Lizak, M.S., Associate Director and Business Adviser, Small Business Development Center

Head shot of Laura Hill Rao


Laura Hill Rao, M.S.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service
Laura Hill Rao, M.S.

Laura Hill Rao has brought excellence and true dedication to her position as director of civic and community engagement. Her ability to adjust to changing institutional needs and to connect with students, faculty, and the community distinguishes her remarkable leadership.

Under her direction, the Civic and Community Engagement Office has become a model for others like it. Rao has been contacted for consultation nationally and internationally on how to create successful and engaging service-learning programs. During the first four years of her leadership, the office expanded to encapsulate partnerships, engagement, outreach, volunteering, and service learning throughout the community.

Rao understands the importance of recognizing and encouraging community service. The Celebration of Community Engagement, instituted under her leadership, recognizes the efforts of students in their service-learning and volunteer experiences. Because of the hard work and dedication of Rao and her team to encourage and support Buffalo State students, community-engaged learning has skyrocketed. Previously, 4 percent of students participated in service-learning annually, a number that has grown to 21 percent through Rao’s efforts. Since 2003, Rao’s leadership and mentoring has led to more than 35,000 Buffalo State students being involved in community service or partnerships. In addition to mentoring students, she has supported more than 200 staff and faculty members across campus in professional development and scholarship of engagement. She received the President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College in 2016.

Rao’s work extends beyond her position’s responsibilities. Since 2008, she has been active in the Priscilla Project and the Buffalo English Language Learners Network, which enlists over 70 organizations, schools, and higher education institutions to provide services for local immigrants and refugees. Buffalo is home to 1,000 to 2,000 refugees annually. Their resettlement presents may challenges inherent to searching for a new home in a new country, including language, culture, and social barriers. Rao demonstrates extraordinary efforts not only to the campus, but in service to the community in these and other areas.

Nominator: Joy A. Guarino, M.F.A., Director, Global Engagement

Headshot of David Ben-Merre


David N. Ben-Merre, Ph.D.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities
David N. Ben-Merre, Ph.D.

David Ben-Merre, professor of English, is a prolific and versatile scholar who has published both a well-received monograph and a book co-written with an internationally esteemed literary theorist, along with 14 peer-reviewed articles and six book chapters. He has a third book under contract and is completing a fourth manuscript. His outstanding tenure demonstrates his considerable experience and the highest level of scholarship.

Although his scholarship centers on modernism and modernist poetics, his articles and books cover a wide range of topics, a portfolio of work that one reviewer cited for its “striking breadth.” For the past 12 years, he has been co-organizer of the “Conversations in and out of the Disciplines,” an interdisciplinary lecture series that has allowed colleagues across Buffalo State to present their scholarly work to the college and local community.

Ben-Merre is also known for the high standards he sets for students. Five master’s theses he has read or directed have won the Buffalo State Graduate School Outstanding Thesis Award. Many of Ben-Merre’s former graduate students have noted his lasting impact on their academic careers. His modeling, teaching, and scholarship demonstrate to students how to engage with literary criticism and theoretical texts, and to develop their own ideas.

Ben-Merre has demonstrated commitment to his students outside the classroom as well. He has been a member of the college’s Graduate Advisory Council, and in 2020, he became a graduate fellowship mentor for a master’s degree candidate in English who received an award to conduct research on an LGBTQ poetry collection in the Buffalo State Archives. In addition to coaching the Buffalo State Mock Trial team and serving on the board of directors for the American Mock Trial Association, he has authored mock trial materials used by teams across the country.

Nominator: Lisa Berglund, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, English

Sihouette of a man's head


S. Marlon Gayadeen, Ph.D.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
S. Marlon Gayadeen, Ph.D.

Marlon Gayadeen, associate professor of criminal justice, has been an inspiration and mentor to many students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels during his tenure at Buffalo State.

Gayadeen teaches a variety of courses within the Criminal Justice Department, consistently seeking ways to advance his students’ learning opportunities. His instructional practice is inspiring and motivational; many students rely on him for lifelong mentorship. In the classroom, Gayadeen links theory with practice and provides relevant real-world perspectives to his students while often translating his scholarly work into practical outcomes and applications. His students benefit from his continued efforts to link his innovative scholarly activities to his teaching, notably, having students teach job-related skills to former convicts. This project was a direct result of a coauthored paper that focused on reintegration after incarceration, which is statistically shown to reduce recidivism. The project was made possible through a partnership with the Career and Professional Education Center at Buffalo State, whose staff helped prepare Gayadeen’s students for the project.

Gayadeen’s commitment to the Buffalo State community extends beyond the classroom. He has contributed significantly to various student services and organizations, serving as faculty adviser to the Criminal Justice Club and Alpha Phi Sigma, the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, and as a McNair Scholars Program mentor. He currently serves as the NCAA faculty athletics representative for Buffalo State. Gayadeen has received many awards related to teaching, including the Faculty Appreciation Award on three occasions.

As a crime theorist, he has been called upon by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to support efforts related to money laundering, community policing, and human rights and human trafficking violations. Additionally, he assisted in creating a structured program for student-focused initiatives that include internships for Buffalo State students with HSI.

Nominator: Amitra A. Wall, Ph.D., Associate Provost, Academic Affairs

Headshot of Patricia George


Patricia D. George, Ed.M.

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Patricia D. George, Ed.M.

Patricia George, lecturer of elementary education, literacy, and educational leadership, has shown superb performance in the classroom, always adapting to students’ needs and interests. Her commitment to the scholarship of teaching during her time at Buffalo State is widely reflected in her academic work.

George has coauthored three chapters in the recently published Professional Development Schools book The Impact of PDS in Challenging Times, and she has presented at numerous local and national conferences. She is the first author on a paper recently published in the peer-reviewed journal PDS Partners. This paper shares her work as co-director of Global Literacy Engagement in Buffalo State’s School of Education. She has also mentored undergraduate and graduate students as they conducted research for presentation at national conferences.

An expert integrator of the Kagan cooperative learning model—a learning technique focused on student engagement—George encourages cooperative interaction to efficiently produce equal participation, positive social interactions, and student achievement. Those who observe her courses note that students are actively engaged and involved in positive interactions throughout the class, demonstrating current best practices for her teacher candidates.

George has consistently risen above and beyond the norm when it comes to concern for the intellectual and professional development of her students. She sets high standards for students and helps them attain academic excellence. She is accessible outside of class, and often holds Saturday office hours. Students have attested to the impact of her one-on-one approach to learning. This level of dedication extends to the students she diligently advises and gets to know as individuals to ensure that they can access needed coursework and support.

Nominator: Julie J. Henry, Ph.D., Professor, Elementary Education, Literacy, and Educational Leadership


Buffalo State President’s Awards recognize excellence among faculty and staff members who distinguished themselves in work performed on behalf of the college.

Headshot of Elizabeth Stevens


Elizabeth A. Stevens, M.S.Ed.

President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement
Elizabeth A. Stevens, M.S.Ed.

Elizabeth Stevens, senior academic adviser for the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program, has proved to be a strong advocate for students and a key part of the path to success for many. She helps students identify and achieve short-term and long-term goals and has been the guiding inspiration behind many students’ graduation.

Stevens has been advising students at Buffalo State for more than 22 years. She spent her first 14 years at the college as an adviser for students enrolled in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Over the last three years, she has primarily worked with honors program students. Former students have described her as both a mentor and friend. Honors program colleagues have recognized Stevens as a trusted leader with a mastery of institutional and department regulations and policies.

Current students and alumni have lauded Stevens for her caring approach—and her long-term interest in their success. Always welcoming, respectful, thoughtful, and generous with her time, she has served as an educator, a mentor, and a parental figure to many of her students over the years. She treats every student as an individual and gives everyone the time they need.

Stevens’s advisement philosophy involves focusing holistically on the needs of each student using a learning-centered, strengths-based approach to encourage both academic and personal growth. This approach to advisement has made a difference in the lives of countless students she has supported.

Nominator: Amy M. McMillan, Ph.D., Director, Muriel A. Howard Honors Program

Headshot of Arjun Pathak


Arjun K. Pathak, Ph.D.

President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity
Arjun K. Pathak, Ph.D.

Arjun Pathak, assistant professor of physics, is a prolific scholar whose record of publishing in the field of advanced magnetic and quantum materials demonstrates excellence and academic rigor. He has established himself as a leader in research that involves measurements of magnetic materials at low temperatures, high magnetic fields, and applied pressure.

His scholarship at Buffalo State includes 29 peer-reviewed articles in high-ranking journals, 48 professional conference presentation abstracts, presentations at national and international forums, and numerous invitations to serve on international conference committees. He has served as a reviewer and panelist for federal grant proposals and as a journal editor for the Nature Publishing Group. In total, he has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles. His research has been cited more than 2,600 times by scholars in the field, including more than 1,100 times since 2019, impressive numbers at this early stage of his career.

Pathak’s groundbreaking research has inspired an enthusiastic group of students who have published papers and presented at professional conferences. In just under three years, he has helped students receive 10 EURO awards, five Undergraduate Small Grant awards, and two Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship awards. He has also installed and optimized state-of-the-art research facilities in the Physics Department—facilities that promote growth, characterization, and optimization of materials for energy applications.

Pathak’s colleagues have recognized that his research, scholarship, and commitment to his students exceed the levels expected for faculty members’ obligations. He has received national and international recognition for his research accomplishments. In fall 2022, he was awarded a $249,934 grant from the National Science Foundation to support his research in quantum materials. He is one of the most engaged faculty members in undergraduate research on the Buffalo State campus, and his hard work and enthusiasm for carrying out world-class research sets an excellent example for students.

Nominator: M. Scott Goodman, Ph.D., Professor, Chemistry; Director, Undergraduate Research

Headshot of Chris Pennuto


Christopher M. Pennuto, Ph.D.

President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creativity
Christopher M. Pennuto, Ph.D.

Christopher Pennuto, professor of biology, has demonstrated excellence during his career through prolific scientific publication, his commitment to undergraduate and graduate students, and his ability to attract research funding. His efforts have resulted in a high-quality research program that is impressive in scope and magnitude.

A leading authority on aquatic invasive species and freshwater ecology, Pennuto has built a robust research program in aquatic ecosystems. He has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed papers and has explored nutrient stoichiometry in the Great Lakes, predator-prey interactions and their effects on stream ecosystems, aquatic invasive species, and aquatic organism use of habitat.

He has published many of his papers with the involvement of undergraduate and graduate student authors. He has mentored 15 graduate theses and 14 graduate projects, and has served on many graduate committees and mentored numerous students. He received the President’s Award for Excellence as an Undergraduate Research Mentor in 2011.

Pennuto has been highly successful in funding his research through extramural grants, amounting to more than $4 million in funding from state and federal agencies over the past five years. His leadership to secure state funds to support the Western New York Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) Office at Buffalo State is particularly notable. This project supports a wide range of management efforts and public information campaigns to slow the spread of terrestrial and aquatic invasive species in the area. The impressive nature of his work is recognized by colleagues and peers across the region and brings distinction to the college.

Nominator: Amy M. McMillan, Ph.D., Director, Muriel A. Howard Honors Program

Headshot of Robert Warren


Robert J. Warren II, Ph.D.

President’s Award for Excellence as an Undergraduate Research Mentor
Robert J. Warren II, Ph.D.

Robert Warren, professor of biology, promotes intentional learning in his students and models research mentorship for faculty colleagues. Many of his students have gone on to graduate school or jobs in science fields and have become research mentors themselves. The lessons they learned from Warren have made them better scientists and better people.

Warren mentors equitably and indiscriminately, developing confidence and a love of science in students of all ethnicities and backgrounds from the city, suburbs, rural areas, and around the world. Shy and underconfident students have blossomed into capable, self-assured coauthors and presenters under his tutelage. He welcomes and mentors all students with the same professionalism and enthusiasm as long as they are interested and willing to put in the effort to learn.

Student research team members note the benefits of the weekly lab meetings held by Warren, in which students are empowered to read papers and manuscripts, present their findings, and discuss science in a dynamic and supportive environment. Warren provides students with training in ecological field and laboratory techniques and expects a high level of dedication and achievement.

In addition, Warren has established a strong record of bringing student research projects to publication. Six of his peer-reviewed publications since 2016 (with two more in review) have involved undergraduate coauthors. His students also present at research conferences, including Buffalo State’s Student Research and Creativity Conference and the Rochester Academy of Science Conference.

Nominator: Amy M. McMillan, Ph.D., Director, Muriel A. Howard Honors Program

Headshot of Mark Norris


Mark A. Norris, B.A.

President’s Award for Excellence in Service to the College
Mark A. Norris, B.A.

Mark Norris, web administration associate director and editor, has shown true dedication and leadership in his field. Norris maintains the editorial and visual integrity of the official Buffalo State website, leads the web team in strategic content development, develops information architecture and site content for the college’s main site and specialized subsites, directly manages the college’s academic department websites, and counsels campus constituents seeking to make an impression online.

Norris has a persuasive, genuine leadership style and is deeply invested in helping advance the institution, upholding its mission and values, and fostering a sense of collegial warmth and community across campus. He goes above and beyond what is expected in his work. His creative work, including the recent flagship site redesign, has been recognized with industry awards from various organizations. He has gained recognition from industry peers that helps raise the profile of the college.

Norris exhibits an ability to connect with a wide variety of constituencies across campus in a positive, thoughtful manner. He has volunteered to provide communications and web support to First-Year Convocation as well as the Social Justice Subcommittee of the President’s Council on Equity and Campus Diversity. As a part of this work, Norris curated the college’s new social justice web page, which won the Best in Category award for individual web page design at the State University of New York Council for University Advancement (SUNYCUAD) Annual Awards for Excellence, an honor elected by peers in the SUNY system.

Over the last 15 years, Norris has provided professional, sensitive, and timely service, much to the delight of his campus clients. He has been described by his colleagues as a problem solver who takes initiative and completes work with care, providing meaningful agency in a fundamentally collaborative design process that is both educational and empowering.

Nominator: Melissa Meehan, M.A., Web Administration Director, Marketing and Communications

Headshot of Andrew Hashey


Andrew I. Hashey, Ph.D.

President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Andrew I. Hashey, Ph.D.

Andrew Hashey, associate professor of exceptional education, has proved himself to be both a compelling academic and a leader who consistently excels in the areas of teaching and classroom community building. Since joining Buffalo State in 2018, he has risen to exemplify the values of the college through his exceptional evidence-based teaching, scholarship, and service.

Hashey is a powerful mentor to countless students. He serves as an academic adviser for 34 teacher candidates at the graduate and undergraduate levels and spends a considerable amount of time empowering them to make sound decisions and stay on their academic paths. He is also co-adviser for the Buffalo State student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children, an international organization for special education. Through his teaching and mentorship, Hashey’s students have presented at local and national conferences, and he mentors members as they engage in a variety of service-learning activities, including Buffalo State’s Bengals Dare to Care Day. Hashey also serves on the interdisciplinary committee of Sophia’s Legacy, a Holocaust education program of the Anne Frank Project.

Former students have continued to use the information learned in Hashey’s classes and professional development opportunities. Many also maintain professional relationships with Hashey after they graduate. He continues to serve as a mentor to them and provides advice and guidance as they pursue professional endeavors.

Hashey is also recognized by his colleagues for providing his students with task-analyzed and carefully scaffolded instruction. He uses many practices to keep students engaged during class and adapts to student needs and feedback. He goes to great lengths to ensure that student growth exceeds beyond the weekly required class sessions. He has established himself as an accomplished and respected teacher and faculty member.

Nominator: Lisa A. Rafferty, Ph.D., Professor, Exceptional Education; and Shannon E. Budin, Ph.D., Professor, Exceptional Education

Headshot of Arlesa Shephard


Arlesa J. Shephard, Ph.D.

President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Arlesa J. Shephard, Ph.D.

Arlesa Shephard, associate professor of fashion and textile technology (FTT), is an invaluable member of the college community and a cornerstone of her academic department. Her pursuit of personal professional development, commitment to her undergraduate students, and contributions to highly rated journals in her field are examples of her excellence.

Shephard brings tremendous value to her department and to the college. Within the department, she is the chair of the curriculum committee, is a member of three additional department committees, and serves as the curator for the FTT Historic Costume and Textile Collection. At the college level, having served on the Instructional Facilities Subcommittee for the Capital Development Board, she currently serves on the School of the Professions Curriculum Committee and the College Senate Standards for Students Committee. She regularly publishes in journals in her field and presents papers at both national and international conferences; her scholarship has received four awards over the past three years. She is actively involved in professional organizations and was recently reelected as vice president of awards and honors for the Costume Society of America.

She has worked with undergraduate students across all fashion concentrations. Each semester, despite having more than 100 students enrolled in her courses, she takes the time to get to know each of their names, aspirations, and interests.

Her level of diligence toward her students extends beyond the classroom walls. She serves as an adviser to roughly 45 students, arranges individual guest speakers and workshops, and regularly offers workshops to museum studies graduate students using the department’s historic collection. She has created several collaborative exhibits with the historic collection, and was the faculty adviser for the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists student chapter from 2016 to 2018. She also worked with two students on their Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships, both of whose research was accepted to national conferences. She has organized and led two study tours to North Carolina, providing 40 students with the opportunity to network and experience the fashion industry firsthand.

Nominator: Gerard J. Puccio, Ph.D., Chair and SUNY Distinguished Professor, Creativity and Change Leadership