SUNY Plattsburgh president Dr. John C. Ettling said the university's students have been fortunate to have a professor like Levitin on staff and that Levitin represents some of the best faculty the college has to offer.
"Faculty and staff are the greatest strengths any college can have and that's certainly the case here," said Ettling. "The entire campus community is proud of what you have done."
Sharing anecdotes from his near 30-year career with Plattsburgh State, Levitin reflected on his love of poetry and his work in translation.
"I think that translation of poetry is a little bit like transposing a piece of music from one instrument to another.
It's all about music, though we don't very often say that it is," said Levitin. "For me, as a translator of poetry, it is the musical quality that I'm most interested in ... that I most seek to reproduce somehow."
Levitin added he was grateful for the award, thanking those who made his nomination, and ultimately recognition, possible.
"I never really thought this would happen," he said.
Levitin is the second SUNY Plattsburgh professor to receive the distinguished professorship - SUNY's very highest honor. The first was Dr. Mark Cohen, a SUNY distinguished professor who has been credited for changing the way scientists think about civilization.
Levitin's work has resulted in 30 books, and his translations have appeared in more than 30 anthologies and hundreds of magazines and journals - including the American Poetry Review, Grand Street, Kenyon Review, the New England Review and the Partisan Review.
In addition to his latest recognition, Levitin has received a number of fellowships, grants and awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and two Fulbright Senior Lecturer Awards. Levitin holds a bachelor's degree of arts in zoology, a master's degree of arts in English and a Ph.D. in English - all from Columbia University.