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Stony Brook to Confer Honorary Degrees on Trifecta of Luminaries

STONY BROOK, NY, April 20, 2015 at 3 PM – Stony Brook University will confer honorary degrees this year upon three luminaries who have established remarkable legacies in their respective fields. Long Island’s Piano Man, William Martin Joel, will receive a Doctor of Music; world renowned computer scientist Professor Ben Shneiderman, a two-time Stony Brook alumnus who pioneered the human-computer interaction and the highlighted textual link, will receive a Doctor of Science; and one of Long Island’s most prolific businessmen and philanthropists, Charles B. Wang, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters. All three will don academic regalia along with nearly 6,000 students as they join in the University’s 55th Commencement ceremony. Mr. Joel and Mr. Wang will speak at the Friday, May 22 Commencement Ceremony that begins at 11 am at LaValle Stadium; Prof. Shneiderman will speak at the prestigious Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on May 21 at 1 PM in the Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

“This is a remarkable distinction for the class of 2015, to be joined in their celebration by such a highly accomplished trio,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “It shows our new alumni how much can be achieved with vision, dedication and perseverance.  These three individuals personify the relentless pursuit of excellence that Stony Brook embraces. I look forward to this commencement, as I’m sure does the entire class of 2015, as they prepare to celebrate the culmination of their dedication, hard work, and their vision for what lies ahead.” 

About the Honorary Degree Recipients  

  • William Martin Joel,better known as Billy Joel, is an American pianist, singer-songwriter, and composer who has received 23 GRAMMY® Award nominations, six GRAMMY® Awards and the prestigious GRAMMY® Legend Award and is one of most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in history. Throughout the years, Joel’s songs have acted as personal and cultural
    Billy Joel
    touchstones for millions of people, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that "meant something during the time in which I lived … and transcended that time.” He has sold more than 150 million records over the past quarter century, making him the sixth best-selling recording artist of all time, the third best-selling solo artist and he is one of the highest grossing touring artists in the world. In December 2013, Joel received The Kennedy Center Honors, one of the United States top cultural awards. In 2013, Billy Joel was established as the first-ever music franchise at Madison Square Garden, joining the Garden¹s other franchises including the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty.  In 2014, Joel received both The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and the once-in-a-century ASCAP Centennial Award. He has been inducted into the Songwriter¹s Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Billy Joel was honored by Steinway & Sons with a painted portrait that hangs in Steinway Hall in Manhattan. Joel, who has been a Steinway Artist for almost 20 years, is the first non-classical pianist to be immortalized in the Steinway Hall collection.  ”Movin' Out," a Broadway musical based on his music choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp, took home two Tony Awards, including Best Orchestrations –  Joel¹s first Tony Award win – and Best Choreography. Joel has also performed alongside other music greats at two of Madison Square Garden¹s most extraordinary benefit concerts ­ “12-12-12, The Concert For Sandy Relief,” which raised awareness and money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and “The Concert for New York City,” which was held to help aid 9/11 victims and heroes. Throughout his career, Joel has made it a personal mission to give back to New York and Long Island, and his connection to his home is evident throughout his music with album titles evoking New York places and themes, including “Cold Spring Harbor,” “Streetlife Serenade,” “Turnstiles,” and “52nd Street.” One of his most beloved songs, “New York State of Mind,” has become an anthem for the state. Over the years, Billy Joel has been very generous to Stony Brook University. After two Steinway grand pianos at the Staller Center for the Arts were damaged in a flood, Joel donated one of his own pianos, his second such donation to the University, valued at $250,000, and today, Stony Brook University stands in company with Billy Joel as fellow inductees into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
  • Ben Shneiderman , a two-time Stony Brook University alumnus and Distinguished University Professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, is a world renowned computer scientist who has transformed the computer science field. He is a member of the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) and Founding Director of the Human Computer Interaction Lab
    Dr. Ben Shneiderman  Photo Credit:  John T. Consoli
    at the University of Maryland (UMD) College Park, where he conducts fundamental research in the field of human-computer interaction. He pioneered the highlighted textual link in 1983, and it became part of Hyperties, a precursor to the web. His move into information visualization spawned Spotfire, known for pharmaceutical drug discovery and genomic data analysis. He is also a technical advisor for the treemap visualization producer, The Hive Group. A native New Yorker, Prof. Shneiderman was born in 1947 and attended the prestigious Bronx High School of Science in New York City where he excelled in science and mathematics. In 1968, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Physics from the City College of New York. Shneiderman attended Stony Brook University, receiving a Master of Science degree in Computer Science in 1972 followed by a PhD in 1973 – the first to receive a PhD in computer science from Stony Brook. Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2010, he is recognized nationally and internationally as evidenced by many of the awards that he has received, including the 2013 Distinguished University Professor award from UMD, Graduate Faculty Mentor of the year, the 2012 Visualization Career Award presented by the IEEE Computer Society Visualization & Graphics Technical Committee. He also received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Guelph (Canada) and the University of Castile (Spain). 
  • Charles B. Wang is co-founder of Computer Associates International (now CA, Inc.), and owner of the New York Islanders ice hockey team. Born in Shanghai, he moved to Queens, New York when he was eight-years-old, and attended Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Mr. Wang (pronounced “Wong”) founded CA in 1976 with three associates and served as Chairman since the company’s inception. He has since authored two books to help business executives master technology: Techno Vision (1994, McGraw-Hill)
    Charles B. Wang
    and Techno Vision II (1997, McGraw-Hill). Mr. Wang‘s impact on Stony Brook University is a true legacy, helping to establish an Asian and Asian-American cultural hub on the 1,000-acre campus – The Charles B. Wang Center – a focal point for many distinguished lectures, art exhibits and special events. Charles Wang retired from Computer Associates in 2002 and continues to make a significant impact on Long Island through his charitable contributions and entrepreneurial ventures. He is one of the principals of the Lighthouse Project, a proposed transformation of the Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding 77 acres to include an updated arena, a minor league baseball stadium, office and retail space and residences. He is Chairman of NeuLion, a leading internet television company providing a comprehensive suite of technology and services to content owners. Mr. Wang created the New York Islanders Children’s Foundation, co-founded and actively supports The Smile Train, and also funds the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Charles B. Wang International Foundation supports education, various social and cultural organizations with an emphasis on the needs of children, including the Plainview Chinese Cultural Center, and various health care organizations including the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, which provides quality, culturally relevant and affordable health care and education, and advocates on behalf of the health and social needs of underserved Asian-Americans. 

About Stony Brook University

Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. Since welcoming its first incoming class in 1957, the University has grown tremendously, now with more than 24,600 students and 2,500 faculty. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation and Kiplinger named it one of the 35 best values in public colleges. One of four University Center campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, putting it in an elite group of universities that run federal research and development laboratories. Stony Brook is ranked in the top 1 percent of the world's higher education institutions by the  Times Higher Education World University Rankings . It is one of only 10 universities nationwide recognized by the National Science Foundation for combining research with undergraduate education. As the largest single-site employer on Long Island, Stony Brook is a driving force of the regional economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4 percent of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.


Reporter Contact:   Lauren Sheprow
University Media Relations Officer
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