Vito Cannavo ’75 Honors Favorite Professor with Gift to University

Professor Godfrey was “touched and thrilled” when he learned that former student Vito Cannavo ’75 endowed a Stony Brook scholarship, in the Professor’s name, for undergrad students studying classical literature or Latin.

Vito said he was inspired to create the Aaron W. Godfrey Endowed Scholarship in Classical Literature and Latin to both honor a favorite professor and acknowledge the enduring value and relevance of Latin studies. “Latin teaches discipline and precision,” explained Vito, “which helped me develop a solid foundation for my writing and thoughts –  a critical skill for legal professionals.” Vito’s impressive career trajectory is evidence that he learned his lessons well.

After graduating from Stony Brook, Vito earned his law degree at Cornell Law School and developed his formidable trial skills at the U.S. District Court, in private practice, and at The Corporation Counsel of the City of New York.

Today, Vito Cannova is a partner in the New York firm Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo. A seasoned trial attorney, Vito has earned an outstanding reputation for multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in medical malpractice, premises liability, motor vehicle and firefighter related litigation.

Vito is also a regular speaker on trial issues and is considered a leading authority in the State of New York on municipal and premises liability. In the area of personal injury litigation, Vito was named as one of the Best Lawyers in New York by New York magazine.

Beyond the knowledge he gained from Professor Godfrey, Vito recalls Professor Godfrey’s dedication to giving his students a more personal experience, often conducting classes in his home despite the challenges of raising seven children on his own after his wife passed away.

“I remember him as vividly and fondly as the last time we gathered for a tutorial,” said Vito, recalling Professor Godfrey’s perpetually happy mood, his kindness and his unique ability to find ways to put Vito in a good mood, even when it seemed the weight of the world was pressing on him. “Professor Godfrey is the perfect symbol for Stony Brook,” said Vito, “He’s a true renaissance figure.”


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