Horace “Hank” Mann, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of exceptional education, joined Buffalo State in 1953 as the director of the Exceptional Children Education Division and remained a vital part of the campus for the next 57 years. 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 where 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. Dr. Mann 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. Before he retired in 1992, Dr. Mann had helped to educate more than 7,000 exceptional education teachers. 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.
During his career, Dr. Mann saw the need for teachers who would serve as role models for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly for students from Hispanic, African American, or Native American Populations. It was Dr. Mann’s hope that this scholarship fund would encourage and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them complete their education and secure teaching positions.