Release Date: April 18, 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Mark J. Czarnecki, former vice chairman of the UB Council and president and COO of M&T Bank, will be awarded the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal, the University at Buffalo’s highest honor, posthumously during the School of Management’s undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 20.
UB’s other top award — the President’s Medal, given in recognition of extraordinary service to the university — will be awarded to Margarita L. Dubocovich, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Francis M. Letro, chairman of the UB Foundation. Dubocovich will receive the award at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ commencement ceremony on April 28; Letro will receive the award at the School of Law’s commencement on May 21.
Also this commencement season, SUNY honorary doctorates will be presented to Marc Edwards, BS ’86, the Virginia Tech civil engineering professor credited with uncovering water contamination in Flint, Michigan; Seong-Kon Kim, PhD ’84, president of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea; and Margaret Hempling McGlynn, BS ’82 & MBA ’83, founder of the Hempling Foundation for Homocystinuria Research.
A SUNY honorary doctorate in music will be conferred on composer and conductor Bernard Rands during the fall 2017 semester.
The Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal is presented annually in public recognition of a person who has, in Norton’s words, “performed some great thing which is identified with Buffalo … a great civic or political act, a great book, a great work of art, a great scientific achievement or any other thing which, in itself, is truly great and ennobling, and which dignifies the performer and Buffalo in the eyes of the world.”
Named to the UB Council on Dec. 7, 2004, Mark J. Czarnecki served with great distinction and exceptional dedication as vice chairman of the primary oversight and advisory body to the university and its president and senior officers.
He was president and chief operating officer of M&T Bank Corp. and its primary subsidiary, M&T Bank, with overall responsibility for retail banking, business banking, consumer lending, the investment and mortgage businesses, and all staff functions, including technology, operations, human resources and finance. In addition, he served as a member of the board of directors of M&T Bank and M&T’s Management Group.
Czarnecki began his career with M&T in 1977 and held numerous managerial positions in retail banking, business banking and commercial lending. He joined the M&T Investment Group in 1994 and, in 1995, was named president of M&T Securities. In 1997, he was appointed executive vice president, overseeing the entire Investment Group.
Czarnecki earned a bachelor’s degree in management from UB in 1977 and an MBA from Canisius College. He was a champion of many UB initiatives and served as a member of the 2010 presidential search committee and as a trustee for the UB Foundation.
Dedicated to serving the community as well, Czarnecki was chairman of the board of trustees of the Westminster Community Charter School, chairman of the New York Bankers Association, past chairman of the Buffalo Zoological Society and a board member of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.
Czarnecki died Feb. 26 at age 61 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
The UB President’s Medal, first presented in 1990, recognizes “outstanding scholarly or artistic achievements, humanitarian acts, contributions of time or treasure, exemplary leadership or any other major contribution to the development of the University at Buffalo and the quality of life in the UB community.”
The world’s foremost authority on melatonin research, Margarita L. Dubocovich established the pharmacology of functional melatonin receptors, which revolutionized the field. Her pioneering findings significantly broadened the scientific understanding of melatonin’s impact on circadian rhythms, sleep disorders and depression. The owner or co-owner of three patents on agents developed for her research, as well as the author of 175 articles, reviews and chapters, she has received continuous funding since 1982.
As the inaugural senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Dubocovich has worked tirelessly to build culturally diverse and academically inclusive communities of undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty engaged in bioscience research. She is director of the Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences (CLIMB) Program, founded at Northwestern University and instituted at UB in 2009; co-director of the UB Institute for Strategic Enhancement of Educational Diversity; and principal investigator of the UB CTSA-linked KL2 Mentored Career Development Award for junior faculty.
Dubocovich has received numerous international honors for her seminal research and professional service, including the 2005 Award for Outstanding Scientific Contributions from the Latin-American Congress of Pharmacology, the 2011 Aaron B. Lerner Pioneer Award for Outstanding Melatonin Research and the 2012 PhRMA Foundation Award in Excellence in Pharmacology/Toxicology.
She retired from Northwestern University as professor emerita to serve as chair of the UB Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology from 2008-16.
She received her PhD in pharmacology from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Appointed to the UB Foundation (UBF) board of trustees in 2008 and chair since 2012, Francis M. Letro has served with great distinction and exceptional dedication to the UBF, as well as the UB the School of Law. He is founder and partner of Francis M. Letro Attorneys & Counselors at Law.
A 1979 graduate of the UB law school, Letro has remained deeply engaged with the school and the university as a whole, serving 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 recognition of his sustained support of the law school and UB, the UB Council named the courtroom in O’Brian Hall the Francis M. Letro Courtroom in 2002. It is the first fully operational courtroom to be housed within a law school in the U.S.
In 2012, Letro 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.
Founding president of the Western Region Affiliate of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association and president-elect of the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, Letro is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the board of directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the American Association of Justice and the bar associations of Erie, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.
Honorary degree recipients are UB graduates
Honorary degree recipient Marc Edwards is an internationally renowned scholar whose research focuses on issues related to potable water treatment. Regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in water distribution, he has gained national acclaim, particularly for his efforts in 2015 to help expose the presence of elevated levels of lead and dangerous microbes in the Flint, Michigan, residential water supply and for the transformational work that mobilized a relief effort to address the health crisis.
The Charles P. Lunsford Professor for Environmental and Water Resources Engineering at Virginia Tech, Edwards approaches his work with a humanitarian spirit embraced throughout a career marked by teaching, learning and service as an advocate. A Western New York native who received a BS in biophysics from UB, Edwards credits his upbringing in the region and educational experience at UB with helping provide the groundwork for the steadfast, compassionate spirit that has been so closely entwined with his work.
His work has been far-reaching, from Flint to the U.S. Capitol, where he testified before Congress on four occasions. He took on challenges similar to those he encountered in Flint in other cities, including Durham and Greenville, North Carolina, and New Orleans.
Widely recognized for his impactful research, innovative citizen science and public advocacy, Edwards was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2016 and made the list of Fortune magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, POLITICO Magazine’s top 50 visionaries who have transformed American politics and Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers. He also was shortlisted, along with other Flint whistle-blowers, for Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
He will receive an honorary doctorate of science at the College of Arts and Sciences’ graduate ceremony on May 19.
Honorary degree recipient Seong-Kon Kim is an internationally renowned author, translator and literary critic who is president of the Literature Translation Institute (LTI) of Korea — a ministerial appointment with the national government of Korea — and professor emeritus at Seoul National University. A distinguished UB alumnus — Kim received a PhD in English under the direction of the legendary Leslie Fiedler — he has maintained a close, career-long affiliation with the university that has served to greatly enhance the university’s global reputation and visibility in Korea and across Asia.
Kim’s role as a mediator between literatures, cultures and traditions was reaffirmed with his appointment in 2015 to a second three-year term as president of the LTI, an undersecretary appointment reporting to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Established in 1996, LTI administers a broad range of programs to foster greater awareness of Korean literature around the world.
In addition to being a distinguished author, critic and translator in the Korean context, Kim is a bridge-builder between the literary worlds of the East and West — a true pioneer whose influence extends far beyond the university and belletristic context. He was among the first in his country to interpret and champion contemporary American —particularly postmodern — literature and create a strong following for it among both students of literature and general readers in Korea.
A longtime honorary president of the UB Alumni Association chapter of Korea, Kim has generously given his time and support to UB. The university community has been enriched by the impressive collection of Korean novels, poetry and other volumes that LTI gifted to UB through Kim’s generosity.
Kim will receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters at the College of Arts and Sciences’ graduate ceremony on May 19.
Honorary degree recipient Margaret Hempling McGlynn is a global leader in the pharmaceutical industry, and in research and advocacy for an HIV vaccine, as well as for a rare genetic disease that affected her family. She serves as founder of the Hempling Foundation for Homocystinuria Research and was a former chief executive officer of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and former president of the Global Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at Merck.
McGlynn has focused her efforts on improving the lives of people around the world through advocacy, support for research and her efforts to ensure access to Merck’s pharmaceuticals and vaccines, including an innovative access program to prevent rotavirus disease and a historic campaign aimed at protecting women from cervical cancer.
She currently serves on the boards of three companies involved in treatments for rare diseases and chairs the board of HCU Network America, a patient support organization she founded that serves patients with homocystinuria. She also serves on Buffalo Bio-Network, an advisory board that supports life science startups from Western New York, and is an adviser to Abcombi Biosciences, a vaccine startup spun off from UB research.
A 1982 graduate of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences with a BS in pharmaceutical sciences, McGlynn has maintained a close relationship with her alma mater and has remained a strong supporter of UB through her generosity and service to both the pharmacy school and the School of Management, including establishing the Edward J. Hempling Community Pharmacy Education Fund to honor her late father, BS ’50, and participating on the Dean’s Advisory Council for both schools.
She will receive an honorary doctorate of science at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ ceremony on May 20.