The SUNY Potsdam School of Education Alumni Association recently honored Brig. Gen. Dr. Leon L. Robert Jr. ’77, a member of the Class of 1977, with the 2017 St. Lawrence Academy Medal, at the College’s Reunion Weekend.
The St. Lawrence Academy Medal is presented to a SUNY Potsdam graduate who has made significant contributions to the field of professional education or related fields. The Alumni Association recognized Robert for his extraordinary career in education and his service to the nation as a military leader.
About the recipient:
Brigadier General (Retired) Leon L. Robert Jr. has achieved the rare distinction of completing a successful 30-year military career while also leading a world-class academic career.
As professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Life Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Robert leads a team of 35 civilian and military faculty who teach and mentor more than 1,400 students each semester. His peers and students have said that he is both a gifted teacher who cares deeply about his own students and a skilled leader and mentor of teachers.
In addition to his extensive administrative duties, Robert routinely teaches several courses while also conducting research in medical entomology. He firmly believes that cutting-edge research sharpens education and provides a wellspring of enthusiasm that inspires students. Robert has developed several research programs that engage students in research that builds critical thinking skills and prepares them for science careers.
In addition, he is an adjunct associate professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the military medical school, in Bethesda, Md. Robert has mentored several hundred pre-med cadets who have gone on to attend some of the nation’s top medical schools.
Under his direction, Robert’s West Point department achieved national certification for its chemistry and chemical engineering programs on the first attempt – a rare accomplishment in academia. He has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and publications, three book chapters and one U.S. patent, all while maintaining grant funding throughout his career.
In 2009, Robert served as vice dean of the National Military Academy of Afghanistan in Kabul, where he mentored the dean and faculty to build an educational program from scratch for 1,500 Afghan cadets. As a colleague noted, “very few of us in academia practice educational innovation at the very risk of our lives.”
In addition to the bachelor’s and master’s degrees he earned from SUNY Potsdam, Robert has also earned two additional master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Among his many awards are the Order of Military Medical Merit, and top honors from the U.S. Army Surgeon General.
The St. Lawrence Academy Medal is named for the predecessor institution to The State University of New York at Potsdam. Founded in 1816, the Academy focused on teacher training from its founding—a tradition that continues to the present day with the rigorous liberal arts and sciences foundation offered at SUNY Potsdam.
To find out more about education at SUNY Potsdam, visit www.potsdam.edu/academics/soeps.
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit www.potsdam.edu.