Bulletin News

Association Names Distinguished Alumni


The SUNY Cortland Alumni Association will present its most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, to two graduates and an honorary recipient on Saturday, July 16, during the Alumni Reunion Weekend luncheon in Corey Union.

The 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Gilbert Brown ’51, who served as president of the Association for the Advancement of International Education (AAIE) and the Association of American Schools in South America (AASSA), and Robert Wallace ’53, the former baseball coach at SUNY Cortland after whom the College’s baseball field is named.

The Honorary Alumnus Award will recognize Peter Koryzno, public relations director emeritus and 29-year employee of the College.

Since 1968, 111 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, 19 alumni have been recognized with Distinguished Young Alumni awards and seven, including Koryzno, have been named Honorary Alumni.

Gilbert Brown ’51

 To say Gilbert Brown left his mark on students and educators around the world would be an understatement.

The Long Island native, shown upper left, spent a majority of his career in Brazil, where he served as headmaster of the American School of Rio de Janeiro from 1963 to 1987. He also led the Lincoln School in San Jose, Costa Rica as director general from 1989 to 1993.

All told, he spent 48 years in overseas education.

“Gilbert Brown is the consummate educator,” wrote John Ketterer, associate professor in the College of Education at Jacksonville State University. “In his unique career, he has integrated the qualities of a productive scholar with those of a highly skilled school administrator.”

Brown, who received his bachelor’s degree in education from SUNY Cortland, earned his master’s degree and doctorate in educational administration from Columbia University.

He taught in New York and served as an assistant principal in Connecticut before his service in South America.

“The schools in Rio and Costa Rica served as showplaces for educators in local schools of all that was admirable and achievable in the values and philosophy of American public education,” Brown wrote.

After his retirement in 1993, Brown consulted with more than 90 developing international school boards in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. He worked with the U.S. Department of State as a consultant from 2005 to 2008.

“I dedicated myself to help international school boards and those of international service organizations to become more effective and focused on their obligations to exemplify democratic values in their schools and organizational programs,” Brown wrote.

In addition to dozens of journal articles, Brown has authored seven books related to professional education, most recently the 2006 book, Crucibles of Democracy: The American International Schools and the Globalization of Democratic Values (Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappa International).

From 2003 to 2010, he was editor of InterED, the journal of the AAIE. He currently serves as the journal’s editor emeritus and frequently contributes articles related to international education.

Brown taught in higher education at the Foreign Service Institute in Brazil, Western Michigan University, the University of Florida and Memphis State University.

“My community has been the world,” Brown wrote.

The State Assembly named him Honorary Citizen of the State of Rio de Janeiro in 1983 and the Association of American Schools in South America awarded him Educator of the Year in 2008.

Geri de Souza, a high school English teacher who worked under Brown at the American School of Rio de Janeiro, called Brown’s leadership “life-changing.”

“He was highly respected by his staff and knew each and every one of us not only by name but by background as well,” Souza wrote. “He fostered this closeness to staff so that our school was a close-knit family.”

Brown’s wife, Shirley Haft Brown ’51, submitted his nomination for the award. The couple, married for 62 years, will celebrate the class’ 60th reunion at SUNY Cortland this summer.

“We, all of us, alumni and students, owe the College more than can be repaid,” Gilbert Brown wrote. “What it has done for me, and for Shirley, is far beyond our reach to compensate in either word or deed.”


Robert Wallace ’53

Robert Wallace has more than a baseball field in his honor. The former SUNY Cortland faculty member and coach has hundreds of former students scattered across the country that he reaches regularly through email.

“I feel like I am one of Bob’s children, even though he and his wife, Sally, didn’t have any of their own,” wrote James Sellars ’59. “I am sure if you were to poll his ex-players, they would agree with me. He, to this day, is in contact with us all.”

Robert Wallace '53  
Robert Wallace '53  

Wallace initiated the Baseball Alumni Weekend during his tenure as the College’s baseball coach, a highly anticipated tradition that returns for its 36th edition this year. Former players come from as far away as California to attend the annual get-together.

“His email list, his annual Baseball Alumni Weekend reunion and his attendance at alumni functions around the country have enabled graduates to keep their Cortland memories alive,” wrote the anonymous person who nominated Wallace for the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Prior to attending SUNY Cortland, Wallace resided in Syracuse and served in the U.S. Navy in 1945 and 1946. He taught physical education and coached four sports at Painted Post High School from 1953 until 1956.

He came to SUNY Cortland in 1956 and served as a member of the Physical Education Department faculty until his retirement in 1985, when he was designated assistant professor emeritus of physical education.

“The College provided me with the skills, both academic and athletic, to enjoy what is considered to be a very successful career in teaching and coaching,” Wallace wrote. “I can truthfully say that I have enjoyed every day of this association.”

Wallace coached four sports during his SUNY Cortland tenure: baseball for 25 years; football for 19 years; basketball for three years; and softball for two years.

A four-time SUNYAC Baseball Coach of the Year, his teams won 10 SUNY Athletic Conference Championships and two Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships in baseball. He won the New York State Tournament and advanced to the Division III College Softball World Series in his second year as softball coach.

Perhaps the greatest statistic tied to Wallace’s career is the graduation rate of his baseball players.

“In 25 years, we didn’t have one baseball player who flunked out of school,” he said. “Not too many schools can make such a claim.”

Wallace was inducted into the C-Club Hall of Fame in 1979 for his contributions to SUNY Cortland athletics. In 1996, with the approval of the SUNY Board of Trustees, the College held a ceremony to name its baseball field in Wallace’s honor.

“I probably played for dozens of coaches during my baseball career but I never had one I liked and respected as I did Bob Wallace,” wrote James Spadinger ’63. “He was a fierce competitor and we fielded superior teams during all of my years there, but he also loved the game, treated us respectfully and fostered the same kind of respect for opponents, officials and the game itself.”

In 2003, the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association acknowledged his many contributions to alumni and the College with an “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award.”

Following his retirement, Wallace and his late wife, Sally Yaeger Wallace ’53, traveled across the country as alumni ambassadors for the College.

“Bob Wallace brought so much more to the table than athletic or coaching ability,” wrote Spadinger. “He seemed to be the essence of the family spirit that made Cortland so special.”


Peter Koryzno

The Awards Committee unanimously selected Peter Koryzno to receive an Honorary Alumnus Award, recognizing him for the volume and quality of the articles his department produced and for “always highlighting SUNY Cortland alumni in the best light.”

Highly regarded as the College’s institutional voice during his tenure, Koryzno oversaw a transformative era of communication at SUNY Cortland.

Pete Koryzno Distinguished Alumn  
Peter Koryzno  

The former director of public relations retired Dec. 31.

Since 1988, Koryzno edited Columns, the College’s award-winning alumni publication available to the more than 62,000 graduates living worldwide.

As public relations director, he guided four other publications: the Annual Report of the President and the Annual Report of the College Foundation since the mid-1990s; Moments, the SUNY Cortland alumni electronic newsletter launched in 2009; and the Bulletin, the College’s internal communications vehicle that switched to an online format in 2009.

Koryzno arrived at SUNY Cortland in 1981 as sports information director in charge of publicizing its 28 men’s and women’s intercollegiate teams. The 29-year member of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) proved vital to the development of the C-Club Hall of Fame, producing all 30 banquet programs and writing nearly 200 biographies since 1981.

He became the news services director at SUNY Cortland in 1992 before taking over as public relations director in 1998, while continuing to oversee the Sports Information Office.

He concurrently handled the duties of the College’s records access officer and government relations liaison while serving on the College’s crisis management, marketing and Web advisory teams.

Over the years, Koryzno was on more than 30 College and community committees and various boards, including the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce.

Koryzno contributed to all of the significant campus events during his tenure, including the SUNY Cortland 125th Anniversary in 1993-94, the Outdoor Education Center 50th Anniversary in 1997-98 and every facility groundbreaking and dedication. He was part of the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex Organizing Committee and assisted in the press box design planning.

As a member of the O’Heron Newman Foundation, Koryzno created and coordinated the annual O’Heron Invitational Basketball Tournament, which brought local high school teams and their fans into Corey Gymnasium every Thanksgiving weekend between 2000-08. The popular event raised nearly $20,000 for a scholarship in Rev. Edward J. O’Heron’s name.

Koryzno served on the State University of New York Council for University Advancement (SUNYCUAD) Board of Directors and presided over its two largest-attended annual educational conferences. In 2002, he created and organized the SUNYCUAD Hall of Fame to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary.

A recipient of the 2003 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, Koryzno was inducted into the Hall of Fame for both the SUNY Cortland C-Club in 1996 and SUNYCUAD in 2007.

He received the Irving T. Marsh Award for excellence in the field of sports information from the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Sports Information Directors Association (ECAC-SIDA) in 1996. Koryzno was the first recipient of the Fraser Stokes Award “for outstanding service to SUNY Cortland athletics” in 1988.