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Buffalo State to Confer Two SUNY Honorary Doctorates at Commencement

Buffalo State College and the State University of New York will bestow two SUNY honorary doctorates during the college’s 2010 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 15. Buffalo State alumna Judy L. Elliott, ’82, will receive the honorary doctor of humane letters, and poet Sonia Sanchez will be awarded the honorary doctor of letters. Trustee Eunice Ashman Lewin will confer the awards on behalf of SUNY.

Judy ElliottJudy Elliott is the chief academic officer of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the country. Most recently, she was the chief of teaching and learning in the Portland (Oregon) Public Schools, and prior to that, an assistant superintendent of Long Beach Unified School District in Long Beach, California. Elliott was also a senior researcher at the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota, College of Education.

She started her career as a classroom teacher and then school psychologist in Western New York. She received her B.S. in education from Buffalo State College and her Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo.

A consummate educator, Elliott has trained thousands of staff, teachers, and administrators in the United States and abroad. She has also published extensively. Her many articles, chapters, and books include Response to Intervention: Policy Considerations and Implementation; Response to Intervention Blueprint: District Level Edition (NASDSE, 2008) and State Level Edition (in press); Strategies and Tactics for Effective Instruction-II (Sopris West Inc.); Timesavers for Educators (Sopris West Inc.); Testing Students with Disabilities: Practical Strategies for Complying with State and District Requirements (second edition, Corwin Press); and Improving Test Performance of Students with Disabilities on District and State Assessments (second edition, Corwin Press).

Elliott will deliver the Baccalaureate Commencement Address at the 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. ceremonies; she will receive the honorary degree during the 10:00 a.m. ceremony.

Sonia SanchezSonia Sanchez is a poet, professor, and international lecturer on black culture and literature, women’s liberation, peace, and racial justice. She has written more than 16 books, including Homecoming, We a BaddDDD People, Love Poems, I’ve Been a Woman, A Sound Investment and Other Stories, Under a Soprano Sky, Wounded in the House of a Friend, Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums, and most recently, Shake Loose My Skin.

Sanchez is a contributing editor to Black Scholar and the Journal of African Studies. Additionally, she has edited two anthologies: We Be Word Sorcerers: 25 Stories by Black Americans and 360° of Blackness Coming at You.

Her numerous awards include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a PEW Fellowship in the Arts, the Lucretia Mott Award, and the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. She is the winner of the 1985 American Book Award for Homegirls and Handgrenades, the 1988 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, the 1989 Peace and Freedom Award from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the 1999 Langston Hughes Poetry Award.

Her poem Does Your House Have Lions? was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the Poetry Society of America’s 2001 Robert Frost medalist and a Ford Freedom scholar of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

She holds a bachelor of arts in political science from Hunter College and completed postgraduate work at New York University. She was the first presidential fellow at Temple University, where she also held the Laura Carnell Chair in English. She also received the Harper Lee Award for a Distinguished Alabama Writer (2004), the Leeway Foundation Transformational Award (2005), the National Visionary Leadership Award (2006), and the Robert Creeley Award (2009).

Sanchez will receive the honorary degree and deliver the Master’s and C.A.S. Commencement Address at the 6:00 p.m. ceremony.

Eunice LewinEunice A. Lewin was appointed to the SUNY Board of Trustees on February 2, 2010. She has been employed as a bilingual social worker for the Committee on Special Education with the Buffalo Board of Education since 1979. Previously, she volunteered at Buffalo Catholic Charities in 1976 before being employed there for three years as a social worker and later obtaining a position with the Erie County Department of Social Services in the division of child protection.

Lewin serves on several boards of directors, including as a commissioner of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority; a founding member of the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation; and a member of the Buffalo Urban League, Hispanics United of Buffalo, and the Canisius College Board of Regents. She is also a member of the Erie County Chapter of Links, the Hispanic Women’s League, and the Buffalo Niagara Guitar Festival Originators.

She was honored with the Ebony and Ivory Civic Award in 1994; inducted into the Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame on March 14, 2002; and received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education in 2002, the National Conference for Community and Justice of Western New York 50th Annual Citation Award in 2003, and the Marcus Garvey Community Service Award in 2004.

Lewin was born in Guantanamo, Cuba. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1967. She earned a bachelor of arts in sociology from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City before moving to Buffalo in 1976. She obtained a master’s degree in American and Puerto Rican Studies in 1978, and a master’s degree in educational administration in 1989, both from the University at Buffalo.

Her term with the Board of Trustees expires on June 30, 2016.