Wells College President Honored
Buchanan, Ryerson to receive Honorary Degrees SUNY Cortland
April 3, 2010 | SUNY Cortland Bulletin News
Two SUNY Cortland graduates, University of Wyoming President Thomas Buchanan and Wells College President Lisa Marsh Ryerson, will receive honorary degrees from State University of New York during the Undergraduate Commencement exercises in Park Center Alumni Arena on Saturday, May 22.
Ryerson, who earned a Master of Science in Education from SUNY Cortland in 1991, will address the graduates at the 9:30 a.m. Commencement, while Buchanan, who received his Bachelor of Science in Recreation Education in 1974, will speak at the 2:30 p.m. ceremony.
Brief biographies of Ryerson and Buchanan, both of whom will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, follow.
Thomas Buchanan ’74As president of the University of Wyoming (UW) since 2005, Buchanan has set priorities for the university that have resulted in increased excellence in academics, promoting access to higher education in Wyoming and enhancing the state’s economic and workforce development.
Under Buchanan’s direction, the university has experienced extraordinary success with the Wyoming State Legislature, resulting in unprecedented support for the university, including the allocation of $82 million in state matching dollars for private contributions as well as more than 100 new faculty positions. Buchanan was instrumental in helping shape legislation that established programs supporting higher education throughout Wyoming, including the Hathaway Scholarship Program and the Excellence in Higher Education Endowment.
His leadership at UW has led to record-breaking growth in private giving and research funding, with more than $500 million dollars in capital construction projects. In addition, Buchanan guided the development of the UW School of Energy Resources, the successful negotiation of contracts with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the National Science Foundation to establish a supercomputing facility in Wyoming, and worked with General Electric for the development of a coal gasification research facility.
Like most colleges and universities, UW has been impacted by recent economic conditions. Buchanan led the university through its most significant budget reduction in the history of the institution in order to meet budget objectives of the State of Wyoming.
Buchanan’s higher education career has spanned more than 35 years as a student, teacher, and administrator.
After graduating from SUNY Cortland, the Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., native earned a master of science degree from the University of Wyoming in 1975 and a Ph.D. from the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1979.
Upon completing his doctorate, Buchanan returned to Wyoming as an assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Wyoming. Over the next 30 years, he rose through the faculty ranks to full professor in 1991. He was department chair from 1988-91.
Buchanan received research dollars and state agency funding for his various projects. He worked with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone. He and his students studied the chemical composition of fresh snow on Mount Everest. He also worked with the state’s Department of Commerce on the impact of tourism.
In 1988, he received the University of Wyoming’s highest honor for classroom teaching — the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award. In 1990, he was the College of Arts and Sciences Siebold Professor, which provided an honorarium to enhance one’s career. Buchanan used it to bring the first Geographic Information System (GIS) to the UW campus.
He subsequently served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and as vice president for academic affairs. On July 1, 2005, he was appointed the 23rd president of the University of Wyoming.
He serves on the governing boards of the Mountain West Athletic Conference, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, and the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications. He is Wyoming’s representative to State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO).
Buchanan is married to Jacque, whom he met while a student at UW. They are the proud parents of Eric and grandparents of Bradley.
Lisa Marsh Ryerson M ’91Lisa Ryerson
An experienced, innovative leader known for her advocacy of gender equity, the liberal arts and commitment to providing increased access to higher education, Ryerson has served as president of Wells College since 1995. The first alumna to become president of Wells College, she is the institution’s 17th president and currently the senior college president in the region.
Nationally recognized for her progressive views on higher education and community partnerships, Ryerson speaks and writes about the benefits of inclusive coeducation, gender equality in education and society, women in leadership, and business-education partnerships among many other topics.
She has elevated the college’s national standing as a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education at an affordable price. Ryerson led the board of trustees through a planning and decision-making process that included opening the college’s doors to matriculated male students for the first time in the college’s history beginning in Fall 2005. She directed Wells’ successful transition to coeducation and subsequent 45 percent increase in enrollment.
In February 2010, Ryerson announced the addition of an innovative business center to Wells’ liberal arts offerings. This program puts Wells at the forefront of national efforts to revitalize undergraduate business programs by connecting them more fully to the liberal arts.
Ryerson played a key leadership and collaborative role in economically revitalizing the village of Aurora through the restoration and refurbishment of the college’s extensive holdings in the village’s commercial district. Additionally, she has overseen the construction of Stratton Hall, the college’s state-of-the-art science facility. Under her leadership, Wells completed the largest and most successful fundraising effort in its history – a comprehensive campaign that surpassed its ambitious $50 million goal.
An active leader in many national, state and local organizations, Ryerson serves as a commissioner and executive committee member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Management Council; a director of the Metropolitan Development Association (MDA) of Syracuse and Central New York; a director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra; a member of the Central New York Advisory Board of HSBC Bank; a member of the board of the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y.; a trustee of Auburn Memorial Hospital; and member of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art Community Advisory Committee at Cornell University.
Ryerson is a past chair of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York State, the Executive Board of the Public Leadership Education Network in Washington, D.C., and the Women’s College Coalition in Washington, D.C. She is a vice chair of the Council of Independent Colleges, the American Council on Education’s Commission on Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
She has been honored with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District II Chief Executive Leadership Award; a New York State Senate Woman of Distinction Award; the Girls Inc. of CNY Spirit of American Women National Role Model for Girls Award; the Central New York Chapter of The Public Relations Society of America Communications Advocate Award; a Post-Standard Achievement Award; and a Seven Lakes Girl Scout Council Woman of Distinction Award.
The Jamestown, N.Y. native earned her bachelor’s degree from Wells. She resides in Aurora with her husband, George E. Farenthold, and three daughters, Annie, Carol and Julie.