University at Albany - State University of New York

Excellence Awards

The University at Albany Alumni Association traditionally recognizes alumni and friends of the University for their outstanding achievements and service to the University and community. These individuals personify the University's commitment to excellence and service and bring distinction to themselves and to our alma mater. The 2013 award recipients were honored at the Excellence Awards Gala April 20 at the Albany Hilton. Nominations for 2014 will open Jan. 1, 2013.

2012 Award Recipients

Bertha E. Brimmer Medal
Heather O’Leary M.S. ’99
Citizen of the University
Charlotte Buchanan, Esq.
Distinguished Alumni Award
Gary Jacobson B.A. ’82
International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement
Ayodele J. Coker M.S. '74, Ph.D. ’78
Keiko Miwa Ph.D. ’00

Excellence in Alumni Service Award
Nolan Altman B.S. ’77
Excellence in Business Award
Thomas M. Metzold, M.B.A. ’87
Michael W. Weilheimer, B.S.’83
Excellence in Community Service Award
Carolyn H. Grosvenor M.P.H. ’06
Excellence in Education Award
Joseph S. Brosnan M.S. ’69, E.d.D. ’81
Donna M. Scanlon B.S. ’76, Ph.D. ’87
Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Hamdi Ulukaya
Excellence in Public Service
Theresa Tobin M.A. ’88, Ph.D. ’11
Excellence in Science & Technology
Sreejit Chakravarty Ph.D. ’86
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
James Malatras B.A. ’99, M.A. ’00, Ph.D. ’08

2009 Award Recipients 

 2010 Award Recipients

 2011 Award Recipients

**2011 Gala Photo Gallery

Bertha E. Brimmer Medal

Heather O'Leary M.S. '99  (return to list)

You would, of course, expect to see elementary school teacher Heather O’Leary in the classroom during the week surrounded by a group of students. But you’re just as likely to see her leading a group of students and their parents through a local farm, museum or dance on a weeknight or weekend. O’Leary’s “classroom” knows no boundaries.

An English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Van Corlaer Elementary School and Hamilton Elementary School in Schenectady, N.Y., O’Leary has been teaching for more than 17 years. She began teaching ESL eight years ago and works with children who speak Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and Pashto. They range in age from kindergartners to 6th graders.

Making sure her students have varied opportunities to learn English and socialization skills is a top priority. “Ms. O’Leary embraces the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ adage,” says Robert Bangert-Drowns, dean of the University at Albany’s School of Education. “She regularly plans activities for her students and their families outside of school hours to give them a wide range of enriching life experiences so that they can learn English together. She often funds trips and activities from her own pockets.”

O’Leary understands the value of involving the whole family. “She provides parents with resources, tools and skills so that they can help their children do their best. She takes a special interest in each family, making sure that they are adjusting to life in the United States and that they have the support they need,” Bangert-Drowns noted. O’Leary draws on her many years of classroom experience, as well as on her innate creativity and empathy, to engage her students, said Van Corlaer Principal Mariann Bellai and Hamilton Principal Michelle VanDerLinden. “Ms. O’Leary has developed a strong sense of innovation and an enhanced understanding of curriculum and instruction. She recognizes the need for positive life experiences, emphasizing fun activities that families can experience with their students while reinforcing skills.”

In addition, O’Leary hosts events to acclimate students and parents to the processes of test-taking and evaluation. She encourages her students to take advantage of outside learning opportunities and has been known to drive scholarship applications to a student’s home if the parents can’t pick them up. Her efforts pay off. O’Leary’s students have received numerous scholarships to a variety of camps over the past few years, and the school’s ELA program consistently receives high ratings; in fact, the school ranked first in ELA and math out of 15 schools in the district last year. She serves on numerous school and district committees and attends staff development programs across the content areas to keep informed of the standards her students need to meet.

O’Leary’s outstanding commitment was recognized last October with the national Milken Educator Award – the first ever given to a teacher in New York State – which carries a $25,000 prize. A Milken Educator is someone who has made “unheralded contributions” as a teacher, a most apt description for this dedicated, passionate educator.

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Citizen of the University

Charlotte S. Buchanan, Esq.   (return to list)

She has been described as “a trailblazer,” “a brilliant strategist,” “the quintessential volunteer” and “truly remarkable.” Charlotte Buchanan, who has a long and illustrious history as a leader in the non-profit sector of the Capital Region, has shared her time and talent with various organizations, including the University at Albany.

Buchanan, an attorney, retired from the Albany firm of McNamee, Lochner, Titus & Williams in 1997. She is a founder of the Albany-Tula Alliance, a nonprofit organization that oversees the sister-city relationship between Albany and Tula, Russia, arranging governmental, medical, educational, cultural and business-related exchanges. Buchanan chaired the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce in 1987 and the State Commission on the Capital Region in 1995. She has sat on the boards of directors and boards of trustees of many corporations and organizations. Her community and volunteer work is far reaching, and she has brought her knowledge, skills and experiences to bear on behalf of the University at Albany in numerous capacities.

Buchanan began her association with the University in 1985. For five years she team taught biomedical ethics in the biology department. In 2006, Buchanan was appointed by President Kermit Hall to UAlbany’s Board of Visitors to help “assess from a national perspective the University’s future.” The board is comprised of leaders in business and higher education from across the country, and Buchanan’s insights were integral to helping the University position itself as one of New York’s premier public research universities.

At UAlbany’s School of Social Welfare, Buchanan is a member of the Advisory Committee and chair of its Subcommittee on Strategic Partnerships. Under her leadership, the subcommittee has developed several policy and practice innovations, making the Capital Region an even more significant design lab for community change and collaboration. With her generous support and her husband’s, the school has established a number of scholarship endowments to attract and retain top scholars. “Ms. Buchanan’s contributions to our school, region and internationally are historic,” said Dean Katharine Briar-Lawson. “She is a 21st-century leader for our region and an exemplar for all.”

The School of Public Health’s Global Health Committee has benefited from Buchanan’s leadership, as well. Assistant Dean Carol Whittaker, who asked Buchanan to be a member of the committee, credits her with playing a key role in developing the Center for Global Health’s mission and vision statements and identifying the organization’s strategic objectives. Buchanan also was instrumental in helping build the school’s Dean’s Advisory Council. “Without Charlotte Buchanan, the school would not have such a dynamic, involved, high-profile Advisory Council,” said Dean Philip Nasca. “She consistently adds tremendous value to every discussion and project she is involved in and remains a very active, committed member.”

For more than 30 years, Buchanan has fostered collaboration and helped build mutually supportive alliances throughout the region. She has promoted programs in health, education and business development. The University at Albany has been fortunate to be the beneficiary of her vision, energy and talents.

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Distinquished Alumni Award

Gary M. Jacobson, B.A. '82   (return to list)

Gary Jacobson has a knack for picking winners. After leaving the University at Albany, Jacobson was working at a deli while earning his M.B.A. when an off-the-cuff decision to interview with a brokerage house catapulted him into a career as one of Wall Street’s top-rated securities analysts.

In Jacobson’s first job at Kidder, Peabody & Co., he worked for an analyst specializing in the study of leisure companies. The first firm Jacobson covered was Coleco, just prior to the “Cabbage Patch Kids” mania in the mid-1980s. Jacobson knew a winner when he saw one. He also knew when to cut the strings. Jacobson correctly predicted Coleco would be a great success -- and then later forecast its demise, getting his clients in and out of the company.

Jacobson continued to show an uncanny knack for recognizing up-and-coming stocks. His approach -- disciplined bottom-up financial analysis combined with “pound the pavement” research -- led to many winners over the years. Jacobson spent a decade at Kidder, Peabody & Co., rising to managing director and advising money managers, mutual funds and hedge funds on when and where to invest in the consumer sector. He also advised on more than $6 billion of financings for companies including NIKE, Mattel, Reebok and Blockbuster. He was frequently quoted in major media publications and also made many television appearances.

The Wall Street Journal recognized Jacobson’s analytic prowess in 1997 when the newspaper selected him from scores of analysts as its No. 1-ranked “All-Star Entertainment Analyst.” “This is an achievement of true distinction, rarely accomplished during an analyst’s career, and certainly not as such an early age,” said Hany Shawky and David Smith of UAlbany’s Department of Finance.

In 1998, Jacobson took a sabbatical and backpacked around the world when he decided a career change was in order. Instead of advising, he wanted to “practice what he preached and pull the trigger,” so he transitioned to the buy-side to manage money. As a portfolio manager, Jacobson has broad coverage of more than 500 companies, from micro to large capitalization stocks, in the consumer/media/leisure/retail sectors. Today, Jacobson works at Apex Capital LLC, where he both trades and invests in the sectors. His performance is consistently superior to that of the market.

Jacobson has shared his expertise generously with UAlbany and its students. In his capacity as a member of The University at Albany Foundation, he co-founded the UAlbany School of Business Investment Group (UASBIG) in 2007 with an allocation from the Foundation. Jacobson makes himself available to students on a daily basis, consulting on their stock evaluations models and meeting with them in person as chairman of the UASBIG advisory board. “Thanks in large part to Gary’s expert mentorship, the fund has grown over 40 percent, outperforming its benchmark,” noted Shawky and Smith.

Jacobson sits on The Foundation’s Financial Committee and Investment Subcommittee. A member of the Center for Institutional Investment Management board, he is also a frequent guest lecturer on campus. He has funded the Gary M. Jacobson ’82 Scholarship for students who demonstrate financial need and are involved in community service projects that benefit children’s groups. He also has named a lecture center, purchased a book collection for the Communications Department, and is a founding member of The 1844 Society.

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International Alumni Award
for Exceptional Achievement

Ayodele J. Coker M.S. '74, Ph.D. '78    (return to list)

After graduating from the University at Albany with a doctorate in physics, Ayodele Coker returned to his native Nigeria to begin his quest to make science a centerpiece of Nigeria’s economic development. Coker joined the faculty of the University of Port Harcourt. Within three years, he rose to the level of associate professor and was soon offered an opportunity to serve as an assistant director in Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST). This transition from academia to the public sector would mark the beginning of a very accomplished career as a senior level technocrat and public servant in Nigeria.

As an assistant director in FMST, he headed the division responsible for policy formulation and project implementation in energy research and natural sciences. From 1986 to 1988, Coker was secretary of an inaugural FMST select committee. As a result of his highly regarded work and successful policy initiation and implementation, he was elevated to the position of deputy director and, soon after, to acting director in 1989. The work of the committee led to the establishment of the first and only science village in Nigeria, the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO), where Coker became the first director in 1990. In 1998, he was appointed director general/chief executive officer of SHESTCO, a position he held until his retirement in 2009.

During his tenure, Coker oversaw the construction and establishment of the Biotechnology Advanced Laboratory and Chemistry Advanced Laboratory and the completion of the first and only gamma irradiation plant in Nigeria. He established collaborative scientific programs with the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Rutgers University’s Cook College, and some of the most prestigious universities in Nigeria. Coker also instituted a technology-incubation program and signed Trinity Biotechnology of Northern Ireland as SHESTCO’s first technology incubator client.

“Dr. Coker was the architect of Nigeria’s biotechnology development policy,” said Soji Adelaja, a professor at Michigan State University and special adviser on Economic Intelligence, Office of the National Security Adviser in the Presidency, Nigeria. “He tenaciously engaged other leaders … to advocate for science policy, science funding, the development of scientific infrastructure and the positioning of the nation for the future through science. This earned him the nickname ‘Dr. Science.’ ”

Coker was a pioneer member of the board of a federal polytechnic in Nigeria and the Regional Centre for Solar Energy in Bujumbura, Burundi, in addition to serving on the boards of four of Nigeria’s energy centers. He has assumed a variety of leadership roles both inside and outside Nigeria, and has represented Nigeria at many international scientific conferences and international organizations, such as the United Nations and the International Energy and Atomic Agency.

“Dr. Coker’s endless efforts on behalf of SHESTCO and associated international activities helped make Nigeria a major player in scientific and technological research among the countries of Africa,” said UAlbany’s Professor Tara Das. “He served as a model for not only the latter but all over the globe, where progress in science and technology needs to be carried out to reach the current levels in other parts of the world.”
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Keiko Miwa Ph.D. '00   (return to list)

Keiko Miwa has a collection of hundreds of photos of children from all across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is the memory of these bright young faces that guides her every day in her work as the World Bank's country manager for Lao PDR.

The World Bank is not a “bank” in the common sense. Its mission is to reduce poverty, and it is made up of 187 member countries. These countries are jointly responsible for how the institution is financed and how its money is spent. Along with the rest of the development community, the World Bank centers its efforts on poverty reduction through inclusive and sustainable development.

“Keiko Miwa is a model world citizen,” said Daniel Levy, Distinguished Professor of Educational Administration & Policy at the University at Albany. “What makes her successful in her World Bank work is what made her successful in prior development work and in her Ph.D. studies at UAlbany: extraordinary intelligence and insight coupled with extraordinary dedication, spirit, energy, and commitment to putting ideas to work for the benefit of the world’s most needy. Her career has been spectacular and her impacts have been significant indeed.”

In her current role with the World Bank, Miwa, a Japanese national, has been overseeing policy dialogue and a vast portfolio of more than US$300 million in Lao PDR since August 2010. Miwa first joined the World Bank as a summer intern in 1997 at the South Asia Human Development Department and at the Bangladesh Country Office in 1999, both during her Ph.D. studies at UAlbany. She was then selected as Young Professional and Education Economist in the Africa Human Development Department in 2000.

Miwa was based in Lao PDR from 2001 to 2002 to work on the preparation of the Nam Thuen 2 project, the largest hydroelectric project ever in Laos, exporting power to Thailand and supplying the local area with electricity. She moved to Afghanistan and was one of the first international staff to be relocated to design and lead the World Bank's education program, from 2002 to 2005. She then joined the Europe and Central Asia Region as senior education economist, leading analytical work, policy advice and project work in the education sector in Kosovo and Albania.

From 2008 to 2010, Miwa served as assistant to the president of the World Bank, coordinating his work in Africa, the Middle East and North Africa. Miwa focused on poverty reduction and economic management, human development, development economics, and the World Bank Institute, among others.

Miwa has been exposed to some of the world’s poorest nations – countries beset by a daunting array of natural, economic and political challenges to development. “But that is just the sort of environment and challenge that attracts Miwa,” Levy said. “For those who know Miwa and her deep commitment to poverty reduction, it is unsurprising to see her in such places. When we see her in Europe, it is in Kosovo and Albania, not Paris and London.”

Excellence in Alumni Service Award

Nolan T. Altman B.S. '77   (return to list)

Nolan Altman, who established a scholarship in 1998 at the University at Albany in memory of his mother, a former teacher, remembers that she provided constant encouragement and motivation to her students, increasing their self-esteem and confidence. Altman has been following in her footsteps, providing support and encouragement to UAlbany students through a number of avenues, including the Martha Bealler Altman Scholarship Fund, which supports undergraduate business majors at UAlbany.

Altman was a partner in a public accounting firm’s financial services group for 16 years. He was later employed as chief financial officer for an international hedge fund and money-management practice for eight years. Currently president of NTA Consulting, Altman shares this wealth of experience as a member of The University at Albany Foundation board of directors. “Nolan was instrumental in establishing effective corporate governance at The Foundation by re-writing the bylaws, revising the organizational structure and enhancing internal control practices,” said Foundation President George R. Hearst III. “His knowledge in the areas of accounting, finance and investments is appreciated and respected by the management and staff of The Foundation.”

A member of the Executive and Finance committees, Altman has also chaired The Foundation’s Investment Subcommittee for a number of years. “Nolan has overseen many important initiatives, including the adoption of a formal, written investment policy statement and the placement of new investments in such ‘alternative’ arenas as natural resources, private equity, venture capital and distressed securities,” said Gary M. Jacobson, B.A. ’82, who also sits on The Foundation’s board. “Nolan’s wise counsel has helped to reap greater financial returns to The Foundation, and, as a result, for the support of university programs.”

But Altman isn’t all about business. After his mother’s passing, he developed an interest in genealogy after looking through a cache of photos and documents she left behind. Much to his surprise, he discovered that an entire branch of his family was lost during the Holocaust. In 2000, when his father passed away, Altman established the Morris Altman Research Fund at UAlbany. The fund supports undergraduate research projects within the Department of Judaic Studies.

Altman has shared his interest in genealogy and his Jewish heritage with UAlbany students through lectures and, most recently, through a special project with the Center for Jewish Studies, where he serves as an advisory board member. In Fall 2011, Altman worked with Professor Barry Trachtenberg to craft and oversee a project to give students hands-on experience creating historical indexes of local Jewish cemeteries and cataloguing memorial plaques from local synagogues. "On account of Nolan's guidance," Trachtenberg said, "not only did UAlbany students have an opportunity to conduct hands-on genealogical work, but in cataloging thousands of entries for the database that Nolan coordinates for JewishGen (the primary resource for Jewish genealogical research), they were able to make a lasting contribution to the Capital Region's Jewish history."

“A lasting contribution.” That phrase also describes Nolan Altman and his steadfast commitment to the University at Albany and its students.

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Excellence in Business Award

Thomas M. Metzold M.B.A. '87  (return to list)

Tom Metzold knows a good thing when he sees it. Metzold joined Eaton Vance Management immediately after earning his M.B.A. from the University at Albany in 1987 and has spent the last 25 years building a reputation as one of the best municipal bond fund managers in the business.

Metzold is currently a vice president of Eaton Vance Management, co-director of Municipal Investments and a senior portfolio manager on Eaton Vance’s municipal bond team. He oversees approximately $16 billion in municipal assets, including national funds, state-specific funds, high-yield funds and separately managed asset accounts.

Metzold joined Eaton Vance in 1987 as a high yield municipal bond analyst covering the health care and hospital sectors. He became a portfolio manager in 1991 and soon achieved top-ranked performance with several of his state-specific municipal bond funds.

In 1993, Metzold assumed control of the Eaton Vance National Municipals Fund, the firm’s flagship municipal bond fund. Shortly thereafter, he was responsible for the development of the Eaton Vance High Yield Municipal Bond Fund. “Under Tom’s management, National Muni flourished,” said Payson Swaffield, chief income investment officer for Eaton Vance. “It achieved top Lipper mutual fund performance rankings in many years and grew to become one of the largest actively managed national municipal bond funds in the country.” During his tenure, Tom has received more than 30 Lipper Certificates for No. 1 performance over various time periods for the funds under his management.

The Eaton Vance Municipal Bond Department has earned many accolades and is well respected in the municipal bond industry, said former colleague Thomas Weyl, B.S. ’85, M.S. ’87. “Tom is one of the major reasons that this department has earned this level of respect. Tom has been a thought leader in the business and within Eaton Vance, constantly evaluating and understanding how to use new portfolio techniques to achieve a high level of performance. When Barron’s named Eaton Vance its Top Fund Family in 1998 … it was the strong performance of the National Municipal Fund … that catapulted Eaton Vance into the number one ranking.”

But it’s not just numbers that make Metzold stand out. While generating excellence in investment performance is necessary to become a highly successful mutual fund manager, there’s also a personal quality needed for true success in this area. “Tom is a great communicator,” Swaffield said. “He creates a strong human connection. Few equal Tom’s ability to reduce complexity to a clear and concise story that investment professionals and investors can readily understand.”

Also at the foundation of Metzold’s success is a high level of commitment and professional integrity, say colleagues. “Tom acts as a guardian of shareholder funds,” Weyl said. “He has always managed his funds, and now his department, with a clear focus on shareholder value, even when it may conflict with firm or personal interest. I believe it is the rare professional that can maintain such a clear client focus and deliver strong investment performance.”

Michael W. Weilheimer B.S. '83  (return to list)

If not for The Wall Street Journal, Michael Weilheimer’s path to the world of big business might have been very different. An introductory finance class at the University at Albany piqued his interest in finance by forcing him to read the newspaper religiously – an exercise that opened his eyes to the complex and fascinating world of business and economics. Weilheimer followed his passion, and after earning his bachelor’s degree from UAlbany and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, he took his first step in the investment-management industry as a founding member of hedge fund Amroc Investments, L.P.

Weilheimer worked from 1987-90 as an analyst specializing in distressed debt securities at Amroc Investments and Cowen and Company, and joined Eaton Vance Management in 1990 as a research analyst in the Leverage Loan Department, where he invested in distressed loans and worked on loan restructurings. After moving to the High Yield Department in 1993, he proved himself an accomplished high yield bond analyst, as well as a capable leader. He earned the position of portfolio manager for the group’s flagship fund, Income Fund of Boston, in 1996, and was promoted to department head in 1997.

Under Weilheimer’s leadership, the assets under management have grown steadily, from $300 million in 1997 to approximately $8 billion. The staff of three investment professionals has now grown to 15. “Mr. Weilheimer is an outstanding portfolio manager and fiduciary of financial capital,” said Scott Page, director of Bank Loans at Eaton Vance. “He understands that managing the hard-earned savings of people and institutions is a trust not to be taken lightly, and pours his energy into balancing risk and return for the benefit of the shareholders in the $8 billion in funds he manages. He has been recognized on several occasions for top performance in his funds.”

As is the case in any business, there are ups and downs. How Weilheimer has handled adversity is as much a measure of his success as are his achievements, says Payson Swaffield, chief income investment officer at Eaton Vance. “Mike has this rare humility that lets him make the necessary adjustments to get back on track when performance lags. It has caused him to become an even better manager. He has dealt with adversity and is a stronger leader because of it.”

Weilheimer is respected not only for his business acumen and tenacity but for his management style, as well. He has created an exciting, fun work environment that has attracted top-notch, loyal employees. “Mike is the architect of the High Yield team,” said Thomas Huggins, vice president of Eaton Vance. “He operates with the highest level of ethics. His success and reputation allow him to attract very talented professionals, and he acts as a mentor to many of the investment staff. He is the consummate professional.”

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Excellence in Community Service Award

Carolyn H. Grosvenor M.P.H. '06  (return to list)

The typical traveler to Texas might take time out to visit the Alamo, Big Bend National Park or the Houston Space Center, but not Carolyn Grosvenor. For the past two summers, Grosvenor’s summer trips to the Lone Star State have been medical missions to serve impoverished residents in the “Colonias” along the Texas-Mexico border. She describes the trips as “international health experiences, without a passport.”

Grosvenor is a 2006 graduate of the University at Albany’s Master’s in Public Health Program and Preventive Medicine Residency Program. She is a primary care physician at Stratton Veterans Administration Medical Center in Albany and also serves as a clinical associate professor at UAlbany’s School of Public Health. For more than 30 years, Grosvenor has demonstrated a remarkable commitment, both professionally and through volunteer service, to working with underserved populations.

For many years, Grosvenor has been a major force at Albany’s Capital City Rescue Mission, which serves a large population of homeless and needy families. She focuses her efforts on health promotion and education. In addition to presenting “health talks,” she co-coordinates community health fairs where hundreds of individuals receive basic health education and counseling, and she recruits students, preventive medicine residents and faculty from UAlbany’s School of Public Health to assist at the fairs. Grosvenor is directly involved in the mission’s transitional program for homeless women, helping them to seek and maintain jobs, learn job and parenting skills, provide for their children, and transition to independent housing.

Grosvenor began branching out from her local service two years ago with her medical mission trips to Texas. In May of this year, she will be going on a medical mission trip to San Marcos de Colon, Honduras. “Dr. Grosvenor has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to community service for the past three decades,” says Mary Applegate, associate dean for Academic Affairs for the School of Public Health and the director of the school’s Preventive Medicine Residency Program. “She has worked tirelessly to address disparities in health status, working with high-need and underserved populations of veterans, homeless people, individuals suffering from alcohol and substance addictions, and adults with developmental disabilities.”

Grosvenor has also made significant contributions to her alma mater, serving as a volunteer faculty member for the Preventive Medicine Residency Program. This program, jointly sponsored by UAlbany and the New York State Department of Health, prepares physicians for leadership careers in public health. This year, in addition to advising and mentoring residents and visiting medical students, Grosvenor took on the task of creating new community partnerships and developing a clinical preventive medicine training component in order to meet new national requirements.

From South Albany to the southern United States to Central America, Grosvenor has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to serving those in need. The impact of her contributions, which span more than 30 years, will be felt for generations.

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Excellence in Education Award

Joseph S. Brosnan M.S. '69, E.d.D. '81  (return to list)

For many generations, Delaware Valley College (DVC) was considered by many to be the best-kept secret in Bucks County, Pa. But, thanks in large part to Joseph Brosnan, the secret is finally out, and the college is undergoing unprecedented growth and success. Brosnan is president of DVC, a private, multi-disciplinary college founded nearly 115 years ago. When he arrived there in 2007, economic, governmental and cultural changes were challenging the continued success of the college. Under Brosnan’s direction, the college developed a strategic plan that is repositioning the institution. “Dr. Brosnan’s leadership has been transformational,” said James Trainer, chair of the DVC board of trustees. During Brosnan’s short tenure, DVC has seen enrollments reach new levels, a strengthened financial position, improved facilities, increased philanthropic support, and a heightened focus on students and on connections among students, faculty, administrators and alumni. In addition, says Trainer, a $30 million dollar gift Brosnan secured last fall nearly doubled the college’s endowment and land holdings. Brosnan’s tenure at DVC follows a long and distinguished career in higher education that began with a post as associate dean of students at his alma mater, Marist College. Later, at SUNY Potsdam, he served as associate vice president for Educational and Administrative Services. He also served as interim vice president for Educational and Administration Services and then was promoted to chief advancement officer and executive director of the Potsdam College Foundation.

Brosnan next moved to a private institution, St. Bonaventure University. For the next seven years, he served as chief counsel to the president and directed trustee leadership development and recruitment. Under his leadership, the university raised more than $50 million dollars in its first-ever capital campaign. With this success, Brosnan was recruited to the presidency of North Carolina’s Belmont Abbey College, where he positioned the institution as a leader in economic development and regional planning. As a means of educational collaboration with the countywide school system, he initiated a master of arts in middle grades education, recognized as one of the 12 best middle-grade teacher preparation programs in the nation.

His next stop was Teachers College, Columbia University. As vice president for Strategic Planning and External Affairs, he implemented a new strategic plan and garnered support for it through a successful $155 million dollar capital campaign, the largest at that time for any school of education in the country.

Regardless of the institution, Brosnan is recognized by colleagues as an exceptional leader who truly listens and knows how to build consensus. “Dr. Brosnan has continued a level of excellence in his career,” said former colleague Mary Driscoll, vice president for Advancement at St. Bonaventure. “He leads with reason, pedagogy and research but understands the importance of individual worth and university culture.”

Donna M. Scanlon B.S. '76, Ph.D. '87  (return to list)

Donna Scanlon’s work has profoundly reshaped and redirected fundamental beliefs and practices related to reading instruction. Scanlon, a professor in the University at Albany’s Department of Reading, has built a national reputation as a researcher, scholar and educator in children’s literacy.

At a time when visual-perceptual theory and its proponents enjoyed almost unquestioned professional credence, Scanlon and her colleague, Frank Vellutino, empirically demonstrated that children’s acquisition of reading skills was linguistically, not perceptually, based. They then produced convincing evidence that contradicted, and eventually undermined, the widely held belief that reading disability resulted from neurological or cognitive abnormalities. Their research, instead, identified environmental and instructional factors as the basis of most learning problems.

This work served as a foundation for the 2004 amendments to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act that ushered in the school reform movement known as “response to intervention” (RTI), a method that provides early, systematic assistance to children who experience learning difficulties. “These changes in federal law fundamentally altered the manner in which children with disabilities are identified and instructed,” said Kevin Quinn, chair of UAlbany’s Department of Education and Counseling Psychology. “Drs. Scanlon and Vellutino showed that not only was it possible to reduce the incidence of reading disability, but that doing so changed the basic cognitive process that apparently predisposed some children toward disability. This work is rightly characterized as truly seminal.”

Based on her research, Scanlon and her colleagues have developed an approach to early literacy instruction and intervention that has been highly effective in helping teachers reduce reading difficulties in early grades. It is one of the few literacy interventions that such organizations as the International Reading Association cite as truly evidence based, and it is widely recommended to teachers as best practice. Scanlon’s book Early Intervention for Reading Difficulties is broadly regarded as an important resource for teachers in the early elementary grades.

“In the last decade there has scarcely been a federal or state initiative to address the ways in which reading is assessed and taught in schools to which Dr. Scanlon has not been invited to contribute,” noted Quinn. In recent years, Scanlon has served at the national level on the Department of Education’s Reading First Federal Advisory Committee and the International Reading Association’s Response to Intervention Commission. She also has repeatedly lent her expertise to the National Institute of Health in setting a research agenda focused on children with learning disabilities. At the state level, Scanlon has played an integral role in conceiving and implementing an initiative to promote RTI school reform efforts.

Currently, her research focuses on teacher education with the goal of preparing teachers to be optimally effective in supporting literacy learners, especially those who struggle. Also, with her colleague Kim Anderson, she has launched an effort to bridge the “research-to-practice” gap and has developed approaches to providing low-cost, high-quality distance-learning opportunities for teachers in schools invested in developing Response to Intervention approaches.

Scanlon exemplifies excellence in education. She has clearly demonstrated her dedication to the profession, and her outstanding achievements in research, scholarship and teaching have produced significant and lasting positive outcomes for educators, their students and the students of tomorrow.

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Excellence in Entrepreneurship

Hamdi Ulukaya  (return to list)

Hamdi Ulukaya came to the United States in 1997 to learn English and continue his education at the University at Albany. When his father visited and noted that there were very few quality dairy products in the United States, Ulukaya decided to do something about it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ulukaya was born and raised in Turkey, where his family has cheese and yogurt operations spanning the country, along with an extensive history of dairy farming and manufacturing. It was during his time in New York that he first realized the opportunity to make high-quality yogurt and feta cheese accessible to consumers in the United States. His vision came to life with the 2002 launch of Euphrates, a wholesale producer of authentic feta cheese located in a state-of-the-art facility in Johnstown, N.Y. The company takes its name from the Euphrates River that flows near Ulukaya's home in the eastern mountains of Turkey.

After realizing quick success with Euphrates, Ulukaya started Agro Farma in 2005 and spent almost two years perfecting the recipe for the company’s first product offering: a Greek yogurt line called Chobani. The first cup of Chobani hit shelves in September 2007 and has since become America’s No. 1 yogurt brand, growing more than 200 percent over the past year alone.

Bryant Cassella, senior vice president and head of Commercial Banking for KeyBank, has worked with Ulukaya for many years. “Of all the hundreds of companies and CEOs I have met and studied over my 20+ year career … no one even comes close to rising to the level of vision, courage and passion that Hamdi Ulukaya possesses.”

Cassella commended Ulukaya’s vision in recognizing that a market existed for a product that is more than 4,000 years old and already sold by some of the largest companies. Cassella also praised Ulukaya’s daring in “bucking the trend” and having the courage to make an all-natural product with more calories and less filler, letting the consumer decide. He also priced the product modestly so that all could enjoy, a decision that was critical to Chobani’s phenomenal success, said Cassella.

And backing up all that business savvy, adds Cassella, is one more key ingredient to Ulukaya’s success: passion. “After 15 minutes with Hamdi, you are overtaken by his passion. I have witnessed firsthand how he has grown his company, one employee at a time … one partner, friend, peer at a time. He treats everyone, regardless of level, background or role, with the same respect and compassion. His leadership has instilled a sense of pride and service to the greater good that is incredibly rare today and humbling to be a part of.”

Ulukaya’s commitment to the greater good is reflected even in his company’s name. Chobani, or “chopani,” means shepherd in Mediterranean languages and is a symbol of giving yet asking nothing in return. This notion of generosity shines through the brand, as it donates 10 percent of its annual profits, through its Shepherd’s Gift Foundation, to individuals working for positive, long-lasting change.

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Excellence in Public Service

Theresa C. Tobin M.A. '88, Ph.D. '11  (return to list)

Hero. Seldom does one meet a person who embodies this word more completely than New York City Police Department Deputy Inspector Theresa Tobin. A 29-year veteran of the NYPD, Tobin was a first responder to the World Trade Center on 9/11. Her years of service, her actions that day, and the strength and dedication she has demonstrated since then are nothing short of heroic.

On the day of the attack, then-Lieutenant Tobin had just escorted a news photographer from the South Tower when the building pancaked down. She was literally blown out of her shoes, lifted over a concrete barrier and thrown across the street. When the air cleared, she found herself buried in debris and her Kevlar helmet split in half by a large piece of concrete now embedded in her skull. After freeing herself, Tobin dug three others out of the rubble and then went to evacuate about 100 people from a nearby apartment building. At that point, a colleague told her there was a window pane sticking out of her blouse between her shoulder blades. Even then, she continued to assist casualties.

Tobin was eventually evacuated to Ellis Island and transferred to a hospital for surgery. It has not been an easy road since. Tobin has had surgery for her wounds every year since 9/11 and has had two-thirds of her teeth replaced. “A lesser person would greet the world with anger or wallow in self-pity,” said Alan Lizotte, dean of the University at Albany’s School of Criminal Justice. “Instead, she remains one of the most optimistic and inspiring people I’ve ever known. She sees herself as one of the lucky survivors of 9/11 and has told me many times that others suffered greater wounds or deeper pain than she. Her resilient attitude and perseverance make her a true hero.”

Tobin’s quest for her doctoral degree was delayed by her work and her injuries, but her drive never faltered. “Terri is amazing,” said David Bayley, Tobin’s dissertation advisor at UAlbany. “It took 20 years to attain her Ph.D. while working full time as a New York City Police Officer, being steadily promoted, up to her current rank of deputy inspector. Her dissertation was further interrupted by 9/11, in which she was seriously wounded.” Tobin became Dr. Tobin in May 2011. “Her perseverance is off the charts,” Bayley said.

A different person might have walked away from the NYPD after sustaining such serious injuries, but Tobin continues to dedicate her life to the service and protection of others. In addition to her role with the NYPD, She teaches as an adjunct professor at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, N.Y. Tobin is the second vice president of the American Academy for Professional Law Enforcement and volunteers for an organization that provides peer assistance for police officers. She has spoken around the world about her role in 9/11 rescue efforts and effective ways to deal with terrorism.

A dedicated public servant, an educator, and a remarkable human being: Tobin is truly one of New York’s Finest.

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Excellence in Science & Technology

Sreejhit Chakravarty Ph.D. '86  (return to list)

For his doctoral thesis at the University at Albany, Sreejit Chakravarty chose the topic of very-large scale integrated (VLSI) circuits. It was a focus that would remain constant through a distinguished career in academia and private industry.

After graduation, Chakravarty joined the University at Buffalo’s Computer Science and Engineering faculty and continued his research, much of which was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. In 1997, Chakravarty moved to Intel Corporation and became the leader of a research group on VLSI testing, which involves developing techniques for generating high-quality tests for very large circuit designs. He pursued the area of defect-based testing. Chakaravarty, the first to lead a team within Intel to collect silicon data to put years of theoretical analysis to the test, showed that defect-based tests can improve test quality. His findings persuaded the semiconductor industry to start using defect-based testing methodology to improve effectiveness and test quality, changing the face of the industry.

“Sreejit is a deep thinker with excellent problem solving capabilities,” said Sudhakar Reddy, University of Iowa Foundation Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “He has made invaluable and lasting contributions to the field of VLSI test and design.” For his work as a leader in this area of research, Chakravarty was recognized as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE), an honor earned by less than .1 percent of IEEE members.

In 2006, Chakravarty moved to LSI Corporation as a principal engineer. Within a few months, he was promoted to distinguished engineer. At LSI, he continues to work on problems faced by the industry, leading the memory test methodology activities within the company and driving its strategy to improve test quality.

“Dr. Chakravarty’s record of accomplishment is impressive, in terms of impact, quality and quantity,” said Daniel Rosenkrantz, leading professor emeritus at UAlbany. “He is a prominent researcher and has pioneered the development of several news techniques. He has excellent intuition for detecting open problems and finding a fruitful line of attack. His results are both deep theoretically, and of significant practical value.”

In spite of being in industry for most of his career, Chakravarty has published more than 125 papers in the IEEE and other referenced conferences and journals. He has seven issued patents and is the co-author of a highly acclaimed book on a VSLI testing technique called IDDQ testing. Chakravarty, who is working on a second book on other widely used industrial testing techniques, has lectured at and served on the program committees of many international conferences. He has also served at the associate editor of the prestigious journal ACM Transactions on Design Automation of Electronic Systems.

Chakravarty has made a number of fundamental contributions to the field of test and design for test. His contributions have made a major impact not only on test as a research discipline, but on the semiconductor industry as a whole.

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Outstanding Young Alumni

James Malatras B.A. '99, M.A. '00, Ph.D. '08 (return to list)

Jim Malatras has risen quickly in New York State government, accomplishing in 10 years what many people spend an entire career working toward. In both the state Legislature and the executive office, he already has employed his knowledge and expertise in law and politics to make significant contributions to the State of New York.

Malatras currently serves as deputy secretary for Policy Management for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. He graduated from the University at Albany in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, then went on to receive his master’s and doctorate in the same field.

While in college, Malatras worked as an intern for Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, learning essential skills to work in state government. After receiving his master’s degree, he continued working for Brodsky as legislative director, a position he held until 2007. During this time, Malatras helped develop and pass several instrumental pieces of legislation, including the state’s eminent domain notification law in 2004 and a major overhaul and reform of public authorities in 2005. Through the development of such legislation, Malatras played a crucial role in protecting the interests of New York residents and responding to needs throughout the state, Brodsky said.

In 2007, Malatras moved from the Assembly to the Attorney General’s Office, where he first served as legislative policy advisor for then-Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. Later, as executive director of Legislative Affairs and State Policy, he was able to significantly influence the attorney general’s legislative agenda and work to coordinate legislation between his office and the state Legislature. Continuing his work with Cuomo in 2010, Malatras served as deputy director for Policy, helping to craft the governor’s policy agenda. After his election as governor, Cuomo appointed Malatras deputy secretary for Policy Management. In that post, Malatras, a top member of the Cuomo administration, works to develop, pass and implement state policy.

Recently, Malatras was instrumental in the passage of NYSUNY 2020, a crucial piece of legislation that will preserve and enhance SUNY’s ability to provide students a quality education. “I have an immense appreciation for individuals like Dr. Malatras, who consistently use their extensive knowledge of the policy process to push forward an agenda that reflects the interests of the communities they serve,” said David Rousseau, interim dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. “Dr. Malatras has been instrumental in protecting the citizens of New York.”

In addition to his public service in government, Malatras has been an active member of the UAlbany community. He has served on several boards, including Albany Pro Musica, the Homeless Action Committee, and the Albany Citizens Police Review Board. In addition, he was a public law fellow at the Hungarian Ministry of Justice. “Such memberships demonstrate the character of Jim Malatras,” said University at Albany President George Philip ’69, ’73. “He is committed to giving back to the community. His work in the public sector has been incredible, and his dedication to service heightens with each phase of his career. He exemplifies the ideals of scholarship, service and leadership that this University values.”
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Citizen of the University
Recognizes outstanding contributions to the University by a non-alumnus or alumna through leadership, service or a special gift. The award recipient is chosen by the University leadership.

Distinguished Alumni
Honors an alumnus or alumna with an extraordinary achievement – one who has been recognized nationally and/or internationally – or an individual who over the course of a decade or greater, has exhibited outstanding success in a chosen profession or outstanding service to society. 

Outstanding Young Alumni
Recognizes early outstanding achievements in a chosen profession or field and/or service to the community. 

Bertha Brimmer Medal
Honors University at Albany graduates for excellence in teach K-12 and dedication to their profession. This award was founded by the Class of 1934 and is named for a Class of 1900 graduate known for her devotion to teaching and service to the University. 

International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement
Recognizes international graduates of the University who are highly distinguished in their profession, either internationally or nationally in their own country; who have helped their nation and/or the world by outstanding contributions to government, science, art, education, business, or human welfare; and who exemplify the strength of their education at the University of Albany. 

Excellence in Alumni Service
Recognizes sustained leadership and service to the Alumni Association and the University. Download a nomination form.

Excellence in Arts & Letters
Celebrates alumni for outstanding achievement in music, literature and language, visual arts or performing arts. Download a nomination form.

Excellence in Business
Recognizes alumni for outstanding distinction in business for profit. Download a nomination form.

Excellence in Community Service
Pays tribute to alumni for time volunteered that benefits a community or its non-profit institutions. Download a nomination form.

Excellence in Education
Pays tribute to alumni for extraordinary distinction in the field of education, including pre-K through post-secondary classroom teaching, school services and administration/supervision. Download a nomination form.

Excellence In Entrepreneurship
Recognizes the accomplishments of an individual who has demonstrated the spirit, leadership and drive of an entrepreneur. Consideration is also given to the nominee’s contributions to his or her community and the University. The award recipient is chosen by the Council for Economic Outreach. Download a nomination form.

Excellence in Public Service
Recognizes alumni for outstanding contributions to local, state or national communities generally, but not exclusively, through opportunities in appointed or elected office or public service nonprofit organizations. Download a nomination form.

Excellence in Science & Technology
Pays tribute to alumni for extraordinary distinction in science and/or technology. Download a application form.

Email Melissa Samuels at for nomination form.

Nominations may be made posthumously within two years of the nomination deadline.
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