OSWEGO — The State University of New York trustees have approved awarding honorary doctoral degrees to two outstanding members of SUNY Oswego’s class of 1977: a media industry leader and the U.S. commissioner of patents.
Margaret A. Focarino, now commissioner of patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is to receive an honorary doctor of science degree at the college’s spring commencement May 16. Focarino will be the featured speaker at Oswego’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduation ceremony at 9 a.m. in the Marano Campus Center arena and convocation hall.
An honorary doctor of humane letters degree will be bestowed on Louis A. Borrelli Jr. at Oswego’s winter commencement at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 in the Marano Campus Center arena and convocation hall. He will be the principal speaker at this college-wide graduation ceremony.
“We are immensely proud of these two accomplished graduates of SUNY Oswego and thrilled that the State University has chosen to honor them in this way. They are inspiring role models for our new graduates,” President Deborah F. Stanley said.
“A trailblazer for women in the sciences, Peggy has devoted her career to work that helps propel our nation forward technologically and economically,” she noted. “Lou has been a change agent influencing our society’s information and entertainment media landscape and has used his experience to add luster to our programs in communications.”
When Focarino graduated from Oswego in 1977 with a degree in physics, she was the only woman in her major. She immediately began her 38-year career at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, working her way up the ranks from patent examiner. In 2012, she became the first woman to be named commissioner for patents.
She now helps lead a federal bureau with an annual budget of $3 billion and a well-educated, diverse workforce of more than 10,000 engineers, scientists and public servants.
She brought a new level of order, collaboration and effectiveness to a 225-year-old federal agency that boosted it to the No. 1 “best place to work” out of 300 federal agencies in 2013.
She has many awards and recognitions to her credit. Among them, Managing Intellectual Property magazine named her one of the “World’s 50 Most Influential People in Intellectual Property.” And American University’s School of Public Affairs recognized her with its Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership.
Oswego is Focarino’s hometown, and she has returned to her alma mater several times to meet with students and faculty.
Borrelli has worked in, led and founded many media enterprises in the past 38 years.
He was most recently chief marketing officer of NimbleTV, a service designed to allow subscribers to access television programs from any device, and chief executive officer of NEP Broadcasting LLC, the leading international provider of outsourced teleproduction for major live sports and entertainment events around the world.
As senior vice president at America Online, he developed AOL’s high-speed broadband business plan and distribution partnerships across the cable television and telecommunications industries. He led Marcus Cable Co., where he was founding partner, executive vice president and chief operating officer, to become the nation’s largest privately held cable company, with 1.3 million customers.
At Oswego, Borrelli is well known as the founder of the college’s Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit, which began in 2005. He joined with celebrated Oswego alumnus Al Roker in 2007 to name the summit in honor of their faculty mentor at Oswego.
The event has brought to Oswego such media luminaries as Ben Bradlee, legendary editor of the Washington Post during Watergate, and world-renowned broadcast interviewer Charlie Rose.
In addition to his extensive involvement in the O’Donnell Media Summit, Borrelli has maintained strong ties to SUNY Oswego as a mentor and coach for students and alumni in the communication industry, master of ceremonies at the traditional Torchlight Ceremony, and member of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts advisory board and Oswego College Foundation board of directors.
He received the SUNY Oswego Presidential Medal in 2014.