Published May 2, 2017
Lt. Gov. Kathy C. Hochul will be the keynote speaker at the School of Law’s 128th commencement ceremony, being held at 3 p.m. May 21 in the Center for the Arts, North Campus.
At the ceremony, UB will present one of its top awards, the President’s Medal, to UB Law alumnus Francis M. Letro, chair of the UB Foundation, in recognition of his extraordinary service to the university.
In addition, Christen E. Civiletto, an attorney and author, as well as adjunct faculty member at the law school, will receive the Ken Joyce Excellence in Teaching Award.
Hochul is the highest-ranking female official elected in New York State, and chairs 10 regional economic development councils that include leaders from academia, business, labor and not-for-profits and have, to date, invested $4 billion into more than 4,100 projects across the state. She also chairs the State Workforce Investment Board and the New York State Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and Addiction. Since 2015, she has spearheaded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses.
As lieutenant governor, Hochul is liaison to New York’s federal representatives in Washington. From 2011-13, she served in the U.S. House representing New York’s 26th Congressional District.
In a recent interview for the law school’s Oral History Project, she spoke about the law school’s community impact. “[The law school] draws people from all over the state,” said Hochul. “These are the people that are now counsel at different businesses, starting their own businesses and working at law firms. They’ve become an important part of the fabric of our community...You can’t underestimate that.”
Letro was appointed to the UB Foundation board of trustees in 2008 and has been chair since 2012. He is founder and partner of Francis M. Letro Attorneys & Counselors at Law. A 1979 graduate of the law school, Letro has served 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 2012, he 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.
Civiletto’s interest in environmental history and justice led her to research why so many residents in her hometown of Niagara Falls, New York, were dealing with cancer or other chronic illnesses. Her findings led to the writing of “Green City Savior,” an environmentally themed suspense novel set in Niagara Falls.
Her environmental research also resulted in the filing of a series of lawsuits stemming from the Love Canal disaster. She is counsel of record for two mass tort actions related to that historic event.
“Professor Civiletto joined the adjunct faculty in 2003 and quickly established herself as an exceptional teacher and mentor,” says S. Todd Brown, vice dean for academic affairs. “Year after year, students have praised her enthusiasm, attention to detail, ability to make complex material and situations relatable, and overall commitment to them.”