Two to receive honorary degrees from Oswego State

The U.S. Secretary of the Army and a longtime SUNY trustee will receive honorary doctoral degrees from the State University of New York at Oswego’s dual 149th Commencement ceremonies May 15.

John McHugh, former congressman and state senator in upstate New York districts encompassing Oswego and now the 21st Secretary of the Army, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the 9 a.m. ceremony.

Arnold B. Gardner, an attorney from Buffalo and former member of SUNY’s board of trustees and New York’s Board of Regents, will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at the 1:30 p.m. ceremony. Sue Shaffer Gardner is expected to accept the degree on behalf of her husband.

"We are profoundly privileged to honor these two distinguished figures," said Oswego State President Deborah F. Stanley. "Both have brought honor to our region for their decades of constructive and selfless dedication in the public sphere."

Over four decades, McHugh has worked in government at the local, state and national levels, starting as an assistant to the Watertown city manager and then joining the staff of state Sen. H. Douglas Barclay. He succeeded Barclay as senator in 1984 and nine years later became New York’s 23rd Congressional District representative.

He served nine terms as congressman before President Barack Obama appointed the Republican McHugh to his current position in the Democratic administration in 2009.

Gardner is a senior partner in the Buffalo law firm of Kavinoky Cook in the corporate and business law, schools and education, and non-profit sectors.

The publication "Best Lawyers in America" has included him many times in the category of corporate law.

For 19 years, from 1980 to 1999, he was a SUNY trustee, serving as vice chairman of the board from 1991 to 1995 and playing an important role in the "Rethinking SUNY" report to the governor.

He followed his SUNY service with two five-year terms on the New York State Board of Regents.