Release Date: April 24, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo School of Law will host the 77th lieutenant governor of New York State at its 128th Commencement exercises on May 21. The ceremony, which begins at 3 p.m. in the Center for the Arts, will feature Lt. Gov. Kathy C. Hochul as the keynote speaker.
The highest-ranking female official elected in New York State, Hochul chairs 10 regional economic development councils that include leaders from academia, business, labor and not-for-profits and, to date, have invested $4 billion into more than 4,100 projects across the state. Hochul also chairs the State Workforce Investment Board, and the New York State Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and Addiction. Since 2015, she has spearheaded Gov. Cuomo’s Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses.
As lieutenant governor, Hochul is liaison to New York’s federal representatives in Washington, D.C. From 2011 to 2013, she served in the U.S. House representing New York’s 26th Congressional District.
In a recent interview for the law school’s Oral History Project, Hochul spoke about the law school’s community impact. “[The law school] draws people from all over the state,” said Hochul. “These are the people that are now counsel at different businesses, starting their own businesses and working at law firms. They’ve become an important part of the fabric of our community...You can’t underestimate that.”
Among the major recognitions at the commencement ceremonies, the Ken Joyce Excellence in Teaching Award will be presented to Christen E. Civiletto, an attorney and author, as well as an adjunct faculty member at the law school.
“Professor Civiletto joined the adjunct faculty in 2003 and quickly established herself as an exceptional teacher and mentor,” says S. Todd Brown, vice dean for academic affairs. “Year after year, students have praised her enthusiasm, attention to detail, ability to make complex material and situations relatable, and overall commitment to them.”
Civiletto’s interest in environmental history and justice led her to research why so many residents in her hometown of Niagara Falls, New York, were dealing with cancer or other chronic illnesses. Her findings led to the writing of “Green City Savior,” an environmentally themed suspense novel set in Niagara Falls.
Her environmental research also resulted in the filing of a series of lawsuits stemming from the Love Canal disaster. She is counsel of record for two mass tort actions related to that historic event.
In addition, the university will present one of its top awards, the President’s Medal, to Francis M. Letro, chair of the UB Foundation, in recognition of his extraordinary service to the university.
Appointed to the UB Foundation board of trustees in 2008 and chair since 2012, Letro is founder and partner of Francis M. Letro Attorneys & Counselors at Law. A 1979 graduate of the law school, Letro has served as vice chair of the law school’s Dean’s Advisory Council since 2008, and as a member of its Campaign Steering Committee in 2009.
In 2012, he received the Edwin F. Jaeckle Award, the highest honor presented by the School of Law and the Law Alumni Association, in recognition of his service to the law profession and his sustained support of, and impact on, UB and the law school.