Association Names Three Distinguished Alumni

Association Names Three Distinguished Alumni


The SUNY Cortland Alumni Association will present its most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, to three graduates on Saturday, July 14, during the 2012 Alumni Reunion Weekend luncheon in Corey Union.

The 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are:

• Lawrence W. Fielding ’66, a professor of sport management and sport history at Indiana University who was named a research fellow by the North American Society for Sport Management.

• James T. Costa ’85, a professor of biology at Western Carolina University who serves as executive director of the Highlands Biological Station.

The 2012 Distinguished Young Alumnus Award recipient is:

• Michael C. Draper ’03, a Massapequa (N.Y.) School District educator who is behind the successful peer mentoring program The Senior Nation.

Since 1968, 113 SUNY Cortland graduates, including this year’s honorees, have received the Distinguished Alumni Award for their career accomplishments and outstanding service to their community and alma mater. In addition, 20 alumni have been recognized with Distinguished Young Alumni awards, reserved for alumni who are younger than 35 years old and have graduated in the last 10 years. Seven individuals have been named Honorary Alumni and, since 1999, nine alumni have been honored with Outstanding Alumni Volunteer awards.

Here's a closer look at the three graduates:

Lawrence W. Fielding ’66

Considered one of the founding fathers of the field of Sport Management, Fielding has distinguished himself as a research scholar in three academic disciplines: sport history, sport management and kinesiology.

While most sports historians were focusing on the relationship between sports and society and culture, Fielding analyzed the business of sports. He examined the performance and practices of entrepreneurial sports organizations like the Harlem Globetrotters and analyzed trends in the sporting goods industry, athletics marketing, professional sports ticket distribution agencies and other sports-related businesses.

One scholarly article described the Indiana University professor as “perhaps the best example of an academician who brought sports business history into the realm of sport management.”

Lawrence Fielding
Lawrence W. Fielding ’66

In addition to teaching, Fielding has directed Indiana University’s sports marketing/management program since 1996.

The former physical education major has helped establish sport management degrees at the University of Louisville and at Indiana University. He has delivered several keynote talks related to his fields of study and written more than 60 published academic articles.

Named the Young Faculty Researcher of the Year at the University of Louisville in 1978, Fielding was chosen to deliver the Stewart C. Staley Address at a North American Society for Sport History event in 1985 and was tapped as a research fellow by the North American Society for Sport Management in 2002.

Fielding’s passion for academics, he said, was born at Cortland during his freshman year.

“At Cortland, I quickly found that I needed to work in order to survive,” Fielding said. “I learned a lesson that stayed with me not just for my Cortland years but ever since.”

Fielding said that he was among the first group of Cortland students selected by Whitney “Pete” Corey ’43, the College’s Physical Education Department chair at the time, to present an undergraduate thesis in 1966.

“I don’t know how good of a thesis it was,” said Fielding, who compiled research on human movement. “But it was a lot of fun and I learned a lot.”

He went on to earn a master’s and doctoral degree in sport history from the University of Maryland, where he also taught as an instructor in the Kinesiology Department from 1970 to 1975.

Fielding taught on the Kinesiology Department faculty at the University of Louisville for 22 years, achieving the rank of professor in 1986 and serving as department chair from 1986 to 1993.

In 1995, Fielding joined Indiana University as a visiting professor and attained the rank of professor in 1996. From 2002 to 2010, he also directed the Kinesiology Department’s graduate program.

Fielding stayed connected to the field of sport history by serving as a reviewer and a book review editor for the Journal of Sport History during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He also served as a member at large on the North American Society for Sport History Executive Council from 1979 to 1981 and from 1985 to 1987.

A native of Corning, N.Y., Fielding resides in Louisville, Ky., with his wife, Joan Ebtinger Fielding ’66. The couple has three grown children: Kent, Scott and Jaimie Lynn.

James T. Costa ’85

A respected entomologist, science textbook author and expert on the revolutionary work of Charles Darwin, Costa, shown in the upper left photo, is the author of two books and dozens of articles on insect and larval societies, population genetics, evolutionary biology and the historic biological scholar on evolution.

His 2009 textbook, Charles Darwin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of ‘On the Origin of Species,’ was written for a general audience and seeks to help readers better understand the historical context, structure and content of Darwin’s masterwork.

“Dr. Costa has been particularly successful in integrating ideas from philosophy, politics and biology into cogent essays that have been published in prestigious scholarly journals,” wrote Costa’s former mentor, Distinguished Professor Terrence D. Fitzgerald, a member of the Biological Sciences Department faculty who nominated Costa for the award.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to my professors in the Biological Sciences Department and other departments at SUNY Cortland for giving me the foundation, helping set me on a most fulfilling, endlessly interesting career path,” Costa wrote in response to his award nomination. “It is my hope that in some ways I might play a similar role in training and inspiring the next generation of biologists, and in this way reflect well on my professors and my alma mater.”

As an undergraduate, Costa enrolled in a biology class with Fitzgerald, who offered him his first opportunity to do research and got him interested in social caterpillar communication. The two now work as colleagues on breakthroughs in the understanding of insect behavior.

“In the mid-1990s, Dr. Costa became interested in rethinking entrenched views of insect sociality and invited me to co-author with him a critical assessment of the concept of eusociality,” which was published in the review journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Fitzgerald noted.

Costa, pictured above to the left, built on the resulting attention and feedback from this and other essays with a groundbreaking article in American Scientist.

“Collectively, these papers have begun to reshape the way that entomologists think about sociality in the Insecta as a whole,” Fitzgerald wrote.

A SUNY Cortland Presidential Scholar, Costa earned numerous other scholarships and honors including a Senior Class Award and induction into the interdisciplinary honor society Phi Kappa Phi.

After graduation, he earned a master’s degree in insect ecology and a doctorate in population genetics and behavior from the University of Georgia. In 1996, he completed a postdoctoral fellow in entomology at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, where he is a longtime research associate in entomology.

James joined the faculty at Western Carolina University in 1996, becoming a professor of biology in 2005, the same year he was appointed to direct the Highlands Biological Station, a research field station and nature center focused on biodiversity in the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.

Today, living and working in Collowhee, N.C., James teaches genetics, biogeography, entomology, the Origin of Species, and field courses in Hawai’i and the desert southwest. He is fascinated by the social behavior of the less-studied insects, such as caterpillars and sawflies. To research his 2006 book, The Other Insect Societies (Harvard University Press), he traveled from the southern Appalachian Mountains to Europe and Latin America.

His passion for Darwin and the history of evolutionary biology has led him to the Galápagos Islands several times, where he has lectured on Darwin and evolution, and to England each summer, where he teaches in Harvard’s Darwin program at the University of Oxford.

He and his wife, Leslie, have two sons, Addison and Eli.

Michael C. Draper ’03

A parent of one of his former students referred to Draper as “one of those once in a lifetime teachers” in a nomination letter for Distinguished Young Alumnus, detailing the profound impact of a peer mentoring program created by the Massapequa High School health education teacher.

Draper, a Massapequa School District teacher for seven years, drew up the blueprint for the Senior Nation, a yearlong project in which high school juniors and seniors teach important decision-making and health lessons to freshmen. At Massapequa, ninth graders learn in a school building separate from the main high school campus.

“Without benefit of budget or stipend, Draper created a program born only out of his drive and his deep concern for children,” wrote Kevin Sheehan, an assistant professor at Molloy College and Draper’s nominator. “…As a longtime consultant for Massapequa, I am not sure if I have ever witnessed a program that made a greater impact on a school district for less of a cost.”

Michael Draper
Michael C. Draper ’03

The Senior Nation operates in two phases. During the first phase, Draper teaches upperclass mentors how to peer teach. They, in turn, travel by bus to the ninth grade building twice per week to teach lessons about issues such as evaluating choices and handling stress.

During the second phase of the program, freshmen students visit the high school’s main campus to shadow an upperclassman for several hours. The experience can contribute to a smooth transition when the younger students attend high school, Draper said.

“It’s hard not to feel physically separated, so this program brings them together to make that connection,” Draper said.

In its first year, 18 students participated in the peer mentoring project. This year, 85 students joined the Senior Nation. What’s even more impressive is that the program operates on a paper-thin budget. A small grant, a bake sale and $20 per student affords a group t-shirt and several lunches throughout the year.

“I can’t take credit for all of it,” said Draper, who won a citation from his town supervisor for the program in 2011. “The kids help out a bunch. I think a lot of times, juniors and seniors get as much out of it as the freshmen. If they think something’s not right, they’ll change it up. I’ll monitor from the sidelines a lot of times.”

Now, Draper is working to implement teambuilding activities into the program, noting that SUNY Cortland did the same at the Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education Center at Raquette Lake for its student teachers when he was a physical education major.

“At Cortland, I had the opportunity to learn from great role models for teaching,” said Draper, mentioning SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Kinesiology Joy Hendrick by name. “You could tell they cared about their students and that they were realists.”

Less than a decade after graduating from the College, the same can be said for the young health educator.

The Long Beach, N.Y., resident also holds a master’s degree in education from Hofstra University and a Certificate of Advanced Study in educational leadership from Stony Brook University. He taught seventh grade health education at A.G. Berner Middle School in the Massapequa School District for five years prior to moving to the high school in 2010.

Draper, who also serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Massapequa High School boys lacrosse team, played four years for the College’s men’s lacrosse squad, earning its Red Letter Award in 2003. The award is given for outstanding athletic skills, team leadership, personal development as a player, or for any combination of reasons.