ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — Two St. Bonaventure University faculty members were recognized for professional excellence at Sunday’s Commencement Exercises.
Dr. James W. Mahar Jr., associate professor of finance and founder of BonaResponds, the university’s volunteer disaster-relief organization, was honored as recipient of the 2012 Professional Excellence in University Service award, while C. Kevin Brayer, executive director of St. Bonaventure’s Buffalo Center, was cited for earning the 2012 Adjunct Faculty Award for Professional Excellence in Teaching.
Mahar is a selfless and tireless educator whose never-give-up philosophy provides students, colleagues and community residents alike with “extraordinary learning and service opportunities,” said Dr. Carol Wittmeyer, associate professor of management sciences, one of many School of Business colleagues to write letters in support of Mahar’s nomination.
He is the faculty moderator of Students in Money Management, a course and club in which students invest real dollars in a money management club they operate, and he works with other St. Bonaventure service organizations. He has also served on School of Business and Department of Finance committees.
“But Jim’s most profound contributions come from his work with BonaResponds,” said Dr. Carol M. Fischer, professor of accounting and interim dean of business. “Through this organization, which he has worked on tirelessly for more than six years, he has created volunteer opportunities for students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the local community.”
BonaResponds was born in 2005 when a small army of volunteers went to the Gulf Coast over spring break to help with Hurricane Katrina clean-up efforts. Since then, the group has gone wherever help has been needed, whether it’s cleaning up a park down the street or heading to Ohio to aid tornado victims.
“Jim has spearheaded efforts to provide community service opportunities locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally,” said Fischer, noting BonaResponds’ International Service Day unites St. Bonaventure alumni around the world in a day of service annually.
Mahar earned his bachelor’s degree in finance and management sciences from St. Bonaventure in 1988. He earned his MBA from the University of Rochester in 1990 and his Ph.D. in finance from Penn State University in 1998. He taught finance at Penn State in 1997-98 and was a visiting professor at James Madison University in 1998-99 before joining the St. Bonaventure faculty in 1999. Kevin Brayer
has been the executive director of St. Bonaventure’s Buffalo Center, located on the Hilbert College campus in Hamburg, since 2000. He has also been an adjunct instructor of marketing over that time, teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses.
Brayer is an “excellent teacher and a scholar … who makes a significant difference in the lives of students,” said Dr. Michael Russell, chair of the Department of Marketing at St. Bonaventure.
Supporters of Brayer’s nomination for the award number some 20 past and present students, including 1985 St. Bonaventure graduate Tim Brown, president and CEO of Nestle Canada Inc. “I can think of no other teacher in my life that sparked my interest level in a subject more than Kevin Brayer,” said Brown.
Dante Berardi, senior account executive and top salesperson for Metropolitan Life, a 2003 St. Bonaventure graduate, said he owes “much of my personal and professional success to Kevin. He is a role model to me and I am confident that many other students and alumni would say the same.”
Deborah Henretta, group president, Asia, for Procter & Gamble and a 1983 St. Bonaventure graduate, called Brayer “one of the most influential” people in her personal and professional development.
Brayer earned his bachelor’s degree in management/marketing from Canisius College in 1974 and his MBA from the University of Richmond in 1978. He has also completed additional course work at St. Bonaventure, the University of Maryland and Syracuse University. He was an assistant professor of marketing and management at Daemen College and began teaching marketing at St. Bonaventure in 1982. He has also taught at Canisius, Medaille and Trocaire colleges.
Brayer is a member of St. Bonaventure’s Senior Management Council, the Gaudete Award Committee, and has been active in promoting and marketing the university’s profile in the Buffalo area. He is also the adviser to the St. Bonaventure Chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon, a national sales and marketing organization for undergraduate and graduate students.
He is a member of the Ronald McDonald House of Buffalo, the Saturn Club of Buffalo, the Buffalo/Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives, Inc., and is the longest-serving chairperson of the Western New York Adult Consortium of Colleges and Universities.
Attending Commencement with Brayer on Sunday was his brother, Mark, and his mother, Eleanor Brayer, a former Catholic school teacher who was celebrating Mother’s Day and her 84th birthday.