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In Memoriam: Horace "Hank" Mann

Posted: November 19, 2010
The Buffalo State community is deeply saddened by the death of Horace “Hank” Mann, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of exceptional education, who died suddenly on November 18 in Buffalo.

Dr. Mann joined the college in 1953 as the director of the Exceptional Children Education Division. Following distinguished service during World War II as a bombardier navigator, during which time he earned a Purple Heart, he began his teaching career in 1947 in New York City. There he taught children with developmental disabilities in the city’s public schools. He left the classroom to pursue his doctorate in order to prepare others to teach children with special needs. He earned the first doctorate in special education granted by Penn State. He also held a master’s degree in history from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College.

Under his leadership, the undergraduate and graduate programs in exceptional education at Buffalo State rose to prominence and became among the largest in the United States. Dr. Mann also served as president of the New York State Federation of Chapters of the Council for Exceptional Children, an organization from which he received several honors. His national and international service earned him many additional honors, including the 1996 Burton Blatt Humanitarian Award, the 1998 Distinguished Educator Award of the American Association on Mental Retardation, and, in 1997, the SUNY honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Before he retired in 1992, Dr. Mann had helped to educate more than 7,000 exceptional education teachers. For the rest of his life, he maintained a close relationship with Buffalo State, with an office on campus and extensive service to the college. He made two $1 million planned gifts to Buffalo State, in September 2001 and September 2002 respectively. Those gifts, in addition to many other instances of his generosity, make him the college’s largest donor.

He said that Buffalo State had given him intellectual and emotional enrichments, and that he wanted to return those gifts. In thanking him for his generosity, former college president Dr. Muriel Howard said, “In addition to his legacy in exceptional education, he continues to teach us, by example, what a human being should be.”

His students and colleagues respected and loved him for that example. He was known for his humor, passion about Buffalo State College, insatiable curiosity, and extraordinary compassion for others. A memorial service for the campus community will be announced.
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