Students, faculty and staff gathered in the Center for the Arts for the seventh annual University Convocation Thursday afternoon to honor UB's strongest leaders and brightest talents.
The convocation began with a somber procession by the Thundering Herd, UB's marching band, as the flags of the United States and the university's 15 schools and colleges were carried aloft. Members of the UB Platform Party of Distinguished and Honored Faculty and Staff, marched into the Mainstage Theatre to a rendition of J.S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and Claude DeBussy's "Minuet." Following the processional, Michael E. Cohen, chair of the faculty senate and professor of neurology, formally opened the convocation.
Provost Elizabeth Capaldi announced that Ellen Shulman Baker, astronaut and UB graduate, would not receive her SUNY honorary doctorate of science that day due to NASA's restrictions on astronaut air travel in response to last month's terrorist attacks. Capaldi then introduced President William R. Greiner, who proceeded to deliver a rousing speech largely focused on the events of Sept. 11 and the effects on academia.
In his speech, President Greiner said that UB must rise from the terrible tragedy with a conviction to educate.
Greiner quoted from an opinion piece published Sept. 21 in the Spectrum that he said denied the presence of evil and attributed the terrorist attacks to capitalism, a claim Greiner denounced.
"I believe evil exists ... and must be rejected," said Greiner. "Defusing evil requires hard intellectual work which we should help students at UB do."
Greiner went on to say that evil is the result of thoughtlessness, and teachers are in part responsible for its elimination. He further stated the ability to learn and change will be most effective in this new fight against terrorism, and that the real struggle against terrorism should and will be on diplomatic, social and humanitarian grounds.
In light of these facts, Greiner called for a focus on humanities, arts and social sciences to produce more enlightened students. Greiner concluded by emphasizing that "UB's public is a global public," noting that UB hosts 3,000 international students and 500 international researchers.
After a piano interlude, Capaldi presented SUNY's Distinguished Professor awards to James B. Atleson, professor of law, Sebastian G. Ciancio, professor and chair of periodontics and endodontics, and Roger W. Mayne, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. The highest honor in the State University of New York system is that of distinguished ranks.
Capaldi presented the State University Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching to Kemper E. Lewis, assistant professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Mirdza E. Neiders, professor of oral diagnostic sciences; and Athos Petrou, professor of physics.
Receiving the State University Chancellor's Awards for Excellence in Librarianship and Professional Service were Music Library Director Nancy Bren Nuzzo; Josephine A. Capuana, administrative director of the university honors program; Assistant Vice Provost Shelley Frederick; Albert "Budd" Termin, head swimming coach; and James O. Whitlock, associate director of computing services, operational support services.
Greiner presented the UB Stars Award for outstanding contribution to the university to two groups, one for their work on a multimedia presentation shown during Preview Day 2001, and the other for their work on a Pan-Am 2001 community event.
Finally, there was a moment of silence for those members of the UB community lost during the previous year, and for those victims of the tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Let's not forget," President Greiner implored. He then solemnly gave the podium to Professor Cohen, who declared the convocation closed.