Buffalo State College will honor three individuals—including two of its most notable alumni—with the State University of New York honorary doctorate during the college’s 150th Commencement celebration on Saturday, May 21.
Joseph “Grandmaster Flash” Saddler, pioneering DJ, producer, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, will receive the SUNY honorary doctor of fine arts at the 9:00 a.m. baccalaureate ceremony, while the honorary doctor of humane letters will be bestowed on broadcast journalist Darryl W. Dennard, ’81, at the 1:00 p.m. baccalaureate ceremony and Eric J. Greenberg, ’78, director of United Nations relations and strategic partnerships for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, at the 5:00 p.m. Graduate School ceremony.
The honorary doctorate is the highest form of recognition given by the State University of New York to people of exceptional distinction who exemplify the mission and purpose of SUNY.
Joseph “Grandmaster Flash” Saddler, Barbadian American DJ and producer, is one of the originators of the worldwide musical cultural phenomenon of hip-hop. Noted for his pioneering use of the turntable as a musical instrument, he helped elevate the status of DJ to the masterful, artistic position it holds today. His career has extended from New York City in the early 1970s to all corners of the globe, including performances at the Super Bowl and for Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.
Grandmaster Flash began his career in the Bronx with neighborhood block parties that essentially created what would become a global sensation. He invented the Quick Mix Theory, which included techniques such as the double-back, back-door, back-spin, and phasing, allowing a DJ to make music by placing his fingertips on the record and gauging its revolutions to create his own beat. Flash’s template grew to include cutting, which in turn spawned scratching, transforming, and the Clock Theory, among others, laying the groundwork for modern DJ artists today.
By the end of the 70s, Flash had started another trend that became his international hallmark: the magnetic allure that led break dancers and emcees to follow him to various parties to rap and dance over his seamless beats. Before long, he started his own group, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, whose reputation grew as the group blended its lyrics with Flash’s acrobatic performances, spinning and cutting vinyl with fingers, toes, elbows—any object at hand. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s single “The Message” went multiplatinum.
In 2007, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five became the first hip-hop group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Flash has received many additional awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Recording Industry Association of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award, VH1 Hip Hop Honors, the BET Icon Award, Bill Gates’s Vanguard Award, the international Polar Music Prize, the BET Jam Master Jay Tribute Award, the Global Spin Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Rock Walk Award. He is included in the Bronx Walk of Fame. Other accomplishments include appearances in the film Wild Style and the TV show Yo! MTV Raps; coining the phrase “Beat Box”; and serving as a film consultant and music director for the Netflix film The Get Down. Future projects include the A&E documentary The Secret Origins of Hip Hop, a Grandmaster Flash action figure, and adventures in the Metaverse. He continues to tour the world in festivals, clubs, and venues and now has his sights on new craze-dance music, which has been added to his legendary repertoire.
Darryl W. Dennard, Class of 1981
Darryl Dennard is an award-winning broadcast journalist whose news anchoring and producing talents are familiar to radio listeners and television viewers everywhere. With more than three decades of experience, Dennard has interviewed such powerful influencers as President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Michael Jackson. He is the host and producer of Chicago Speaks, Chicagoland’s top-rated radio program, airing live on Sundays from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. He can also be heard weekly on iHeartMedia’s WVAZ-FM, WGCI-FM, and WGRB-AM’s community affairs programming.
His producing and on-camera skills most recently reached tens of millions of homes via the Black Enterprise Report (BER) on WGN cable and satellite feeds. Before joining BER, he was the host and producer of the Minority Business Report, the nation’s longest-running television program devoted to minority business. His news and marketing expertise puts him in great demand as a moderator and public speaker.
Dennard received his degree in broadcast journalism from Buffalo State College and began his career as a reporter at WGRZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Buffalo, New York. He then went on to serve as cohost of the nationally syndicated Ebony/Jet Showcase. During a stint at Johnson Publishing Company, he was also associate editor of Ebony Man magazine, after which he was hired as the morning news anchor for Good Day Chicago on WFLD-TV. Following his time at WFLD, he went on to host a myriad of programs including Know Your Heritage, the NAACP ACT-SO Awards, and BET’s Screen Scene. For more than five years, Dennard was the executive director of the Radio and Television Broadcasting and Theatre departments at Kennedy-King College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.
Currently, he is the owner of Double D Productions Inc., a full-service audio and video production company specializing in documentary, corporate, and commercial video production. He produced and directed the award-winning documentary Heading West, detailing the history of African Americans on Chicago’s West Side, which aired locally on PBS. With more than two decades of experience, Double D Productions has established a unique niche among its competitors as a highly effective, cost-conscious communicator of ideas from concept to completion.
Dennard is a member of the Men’s Leadership Team, a moderator for the Young Brothers for Christ Youth Ministry, and a Sunday school teacher at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. Professionally, he held memberships with the 100 Black Men of Chicago, the National Alliance of Market Developers, and the Black Public Relations Society, and he is a former board member of the Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Eric J. Greenberg, Class of 1978
Rabbi Eric Greenberg, director of United Nations relations and strategic partnerships at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is an international and national award-winning journalist, communications and outreach director, and interfaith leader. With professional expertise in media relations, investigative journalism, and humanitarian issues—including environmental and children’s health, disaster preparedness, refugee aid, multifaith dialogue, and cooperation—he writes and edits thought-provoking pieces, manages social media, and deftly handles crisis communications for the Wiesenthal Center, one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations in the world.
Greenberg’s diverse work experiences have allowed him to educate, guide, inspire, and influence fellow students, colleagues, faculty, and leaders on a wide variety of levels. With an expansive reach, he has melded his investigative journalism background with groundbreaking advisory work to help improve communication through interfaith dialogue and cooperation among a diverse group of populations.
A graduate of Buffalo State’s journalism program, he honed his craft as news editor of the student newspaper, the Record, and learned from the seasoned reporters at both the Courier-Express and the Buffalo News, sharing his voice to reach the community on timely issues that reflected the zeitgeist of the 1980s. He studied in the graduate program at the University of Maryland, College Park, and later went on to serve as the director of interfaith affairs for the Anti-Defamation League and chief of staff of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness.
He has been featured in such publications as U.S. News & World Report, the Village Voice, Huffington Post, and the New York Times and has garnered many awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Newspaper Journalism, the Investigative Reporters & Editors Award, and the National Press Foundation’s Thomas Stokes Award, as well as induction to the Buffalo State Communication Department’s Hall of Fame.
Greenberg has excelled in areas that mirror the mission and purpose of the State University of New York in the fields of public affairs, humanities and the arts, scholarship and education, and social services. With his commitment to change and grassroots efforts, he demonstrates that one voice can make a difference and that there are many paths to improving communication and fostering connectedness.