Albany Med President Jim Barba was named a 2013 Citizen Laureate of the University at Albany, an award that honors outstanding New York leaders for their extraordinary accomplishments.
Before one of the largest crowds in the 34-year history of the prestigious award, Barba was recognized as Community Laureate for “his transformational and progressive leadership at Albany Medical Center and throughout the community that has not only changed, but saved, lives,” said George R. Hearst III, president of The University at Albany Foundation and publisher of the Times Union.
More than 70 distinguished award winners have been honored over the course of the award’s history, with each laureate enriching the community in distinctive ways — economically, scientifically, culturally, intellectually and socially. Their efforts have
helped transform the Capital Region.
“I am truly honored and humbled by this award from the University at Albany,” Barba said, noting that he was particularly pleased that it recognizes him as a good citizen.
Barba used the occasion, attended by the region’s leaders and many past laureates, to offer his perspective on the current debate on immigration. A second-generation American, Barba pointed to his grandfather, Guiseppe, who came to the U.S. from Italy exactly one century ago, and the need to continue to welcome people like him to our shores.
“Giuseppe Barba lived a life of honesty, hard work, integrity and decency, a simple man who adored his family, particularly his grandchildren, of whom I am the oldest,” Barba said. “During his life, no groups honored him for his contributions; there were no fine dinners to celebrate his achievements; no monuments have been raised in his name. Yet because of him, and because of the tens of millions of immigrants like him, our nation was built strong and just and free. We ought never forget the richness that their lives have given to all of us.
“As an old man, when my grandfather spoke of his American citizenship, he did so with a certain smile in his eyes. Were you to look closely tonight, you would see that same smile in my own. As you honor me with this Citizen Laureate Award, you honor him, who was also a good citizen. And I humbly accept that honor for both of us.”