Three Binghamton faculty researchers recently received recognition awards from State University of New York Chancellor Robert L. King for their work in the humanities and social sciences: Distinguished Professor of Anthropology G. Philip Rightmire; Kevin Wright, professor of Criminology; and John Chaffee, professor and director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Program.
“The Chancellor’s decision to honor the individual successes of faculty researchers in such a personal, face-to-face manner is a very positive one,” said Stephen Gilje, associate vice president for research. “I know our recipients were much deserving of this recognition and were greatly honored by it.”
The three senior faculty researchers received the awards from the Chancellor while attending a special dinner and award ceremony in Albany on December 16. The Chancellor’s Recognition Awards were established about two years ago. Each semester campuses from throughout the SUNY system are asked to submit faculty nominees in one or more critical disciplines, from the sciences and engineering and the humanities and social sciences. Award recipients are chosen based on the significance of their contributions to their field, to academe and to society.
Rightmire, one of the world’s foremost experts on Homo erectus and the Middle Pleistocene era, has been instrumental in research and scholarship that is-as suggested by a headline on an article in the August 6 issue of The New York Times-“Redrawing Humanity’s Family Tree.” Rightmire, who has long been the “go-to-guy” for media seeking quotes on newly discovered Homo remains, was key to the sensational developments that over the past few years have pushed back the clock on human migration out of Africa.
A preeminent paleontologist, Rightmire has been helping to uncover our pre-history as a member of the team that recently discovered the smallest and most primitive hominid skull ever found outside of Africa. Rightmire’s appraisals of the 1.7 million-year-old remains, unearthed in the Black Sea republic of Georgia, are considered instrumental in redefining long-held notions of the origins of the human species and the migration patterns of ancient populations .
Rightmire earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. He joined the faculty at Binghamton in 1969. He was promoted to full professor in 1982 and in 1990-91 was awarded a University Award for Excellence in Research. The previous year he was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The author of a book, Homo erectus, which serves as a basic text in the field, Rightmire has served on the editorial boards of scholarly publications such as the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and the Journal of Human Evolution. He was earlier this year designated a Distinguished Professor by the SUNY Board of Trustees.
Wright is a nationally renowned scholar whose leading-edge research initiatives are affording important insights into crime control policy in the broadest sense. An acclaimed and prolific author, Wright is breaking new ground in establishing effective tools not only to gauge the performance of prisons in the areas of public safety, institutional safety and mental health and substance abuse programming, but also is making major strides in the development of effective programs to keep at-risk youth from joining the burgeoning ranks of inmates confined in U.S. corrections institutions. As a recognized expert in correctional program/policy development and analysis, family life and delinquency, delinquency and substance abuse prevention and prison administration, Wright is often quoted in national media coverage of such hot button issues as the rise in school violence.
Honored with a W. K. Kellogg National Fellowship and having served as a Visiting Fellow in the Office of Research, Federal Bureau of Prisons, United States Department of Justice, Wright serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Criminal Justice Education and Correctional Management Review and is an evaluator of School Action Grants for Family & Children’s Services, Inc. of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a program funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health.
Wright received his BS and his MA in criminology and corrections from Sam Houston State University, and his Ph.D. in community systems planning and development from The Pennsylvania State University. He has been a member of the faculty at Binghamton University for 23 years.
Chaffee is a noted Chinese historian whose work focuses on the social and institutional history of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE). The author of five books and scores of journal articles, Chaffee was instrumental in launching Binghamton’s Asian and Asian American Studies Program into a new era through the receipt earlier this year of the largest ever humanities grant at the institution: a $1.75 million Freeman Foundation grant.
The new Asian and Asian American studies major and will pave the way for the creation of a full complement of courses covering the regions and cultures of Asia, East Asian languages, and Asians in the Americas, significantly enhancing such related University initiatives as Languages Across the Curriculum and Global Studies. The new major is in keeping with the State University of New York’s emphasis on internationalization. The project’s cross-disciplinary and inclusive emphasis makes it completely compatible and synergistic with the focus of the University’s Global Studies program.
Chaffee is co-editing a topical Son volume of the Cambridge History of China, is a member of the Executive Board of the Association for Asian Studies, and is executive editor of the Consortium for Bilingual Texts in Chinese: History, Literature, Philosophy and Religion.
Chaffee received his BA in history from Swarthmore College, and his MA and Ph.D. in Far Eastern languages and civilizations from the University of Chicago. He has been a member of the faculty at Binghamton since 1988.