by Vincent Reda (November
Lynn Videka Earns SUNY's Highest Faculty Rank
The State University of New York officially bestowed its highest academic honor — appointment to the rank of the "Distinguished Professorship" — upon University at Albany professor of social welfare and Vice President for Research Lynn Videka in ceremonies held Nov. 14 at State University Plaza.
By a vote of the SUNY Board of Trustees, the designation of Distinguished Service Professor was conferred upon Videka, who joined the School of Social Welfare at the University in 1981 after completing her doctorate at the University of Chicago.
"Professor Videka is an inspiring example of how faculty members who excel in service and teaching often are among a university's most prominent scholars," said Officer in Charge Susan Herbst. "There are few scholars nationwide who have attained the kind of academic citizenship in their profession — while having positive impacts on their regions, states, local non-profit communities and all aspects of their universities' lives — as has Professor Lynn Videka."
Nationally celebrated for advancing knowledge development in social work, Videka has been recognized by her peers through her election as president of both the National Association of Deans and Directors of Social Work (1993-1995) and the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (1998-2000). She was also elected to leadership roles in the Council on Social Work Education, where she served as member of the board of directors in 1996 to 1997, treasurer from 1998 to 2001, and Commissioner of Accreditation from 2002-2005.
At the University, her research as a principal or co-principal investigator into the theory and practice of social welfare has drawn more than a dozen external grant awards; her teaching has been consistently praised by students and campus colleagues alike. As an administrator, she served as dean of the School of Social Welfare from 1989 to 1999 and director of the Center for Human Services Research from 1995 to 2004, when she became Interim Vice President for Research. In October she was appointed by Officer in Charge Herbst as Vice President for Research for the 2006-07 academic year.
Under Videka's direction, the Center for Human Services Research grew as an investment site for state and national agencies seeking consistently high quality research. She also has made important contributions to the University by chairing search committees for the Dean of the School of Education and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as being a member of the search committee for the Provost.
In 2002, the University named her a Collins Fellow, the campus's highest award to faculty in recognition of leadership and "devotion to the University and the people in it over a sustained period of time."
In presenting medallions to SUNY's newest Distinguished Professors, Chancellor John R. Ryan said, "SUNY's distinguished faculty roster is made up of the finest minds, most outstanding teachers, innovative researchers and the strongest academic leaders across the disciplines."
State University of New York Provost Risa I. Palm added, "Our faculty have earned this honor through rigorous and high quality research, teaching and service that has put them at the apex of faculty ranks . . . They are the best of our best."
The Distinguished Service Professorship honors and recognizes extraordinary service, not only to an individual's campus and the State University, but also within the local community, and at regional and state levels. Faculty members must exceed their job descriptions over many years, applying their unique intellectual skills to issues of public concern. The rigorous nomination and review process includes approval by a campus committee, campus president, SUNY's Provost and Chancellor, and ultimately the Board of Trustees.