UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Spring/Summer 1998
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Susan Breslow Sardone
Bernard A. Tolbert

Bernard A. Tolbert
Social work and athletic stardom shape and influence FBI career

Bernard A. Tolbert, M.S.W. '73 & B.S. '71, a seasoned social worker and UB Athletic Hall of Famer, has been named special agent in charge of the Buffalo office of the FBI.

A native of Buffalo who worked in several human services agencies before joining the FBI, Tolbert was previously supervisory special agent in the intelligence division at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.; supervisor of all foreign counterintelligence, counterterrorism and civil rights investigations in Western New York; and assistant special agent in charge of the Philadelphia office. In 1997, he was promoted and assigned as an inspector in the inspection division at FBI headquarters.

Tolbert says his social work training – with its emphasis on listening skills and empathy for others – has prepared him for the rigors of law enforcement. "As an agent – even though I was chasing criminals – I still showed some concern for them as individuals, not just as people I was going to arrest."

A former UB track star and member of the Athletic Hall of Fame since 1988, Tolbert placed first in the long jump, second in the triple jump and third in the high jump in the 1968-69 New York State competition. Team tri-captain in 1970-71, he held UB records in the long jump, triple jump and high jump, and was twice named most valuable trackman. Today, Tolbert continues to enjoy a wide range of spectator sports, especially Buffalo Bills football. A season ticket holder for many years, he has attended home games even when posted in other cities.

Much of his free time is spent in activities for children with special needs. Since 1959, he has been involved with Cradle Beach, a resident summer camp in Angola, N.Y., that serves more than 800 Western New York young people with a range of disabilities. He is a member of the Alumni Association's international board of directors.

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