Recalling the "pre-campus" of 1965
In encouraging writing letters to UB Today, you invite readers to describe their memories of UB, along with reacting to the articles published in each issue.
I have memories of the North Campus property that predate the existence of the campus itself and that explain why-at the groundbreaking in 1968-"there was nothing there." (See the recollections of UB archivist emerita Shonnie Finnegan in your special campaign issue, Fall 2000.)
In 1965, the State University system bought approximately 90 "improved properties" on the acreage that gave rise to the campus and, in that same year, demolished most of them. The "improved properties" included a brick, one-room schoolhouse, ca. 1890 (if it were still standing, it would be in the Jacobs parking lot, as near as I can determine), and many homes and barns, like the enormous barn on Rensch Road that I watched the state reduce to rubble in the summer of 1965.
Regarding the idea of swampland: Although there were some low areas, especially near Skinnersville Road, I remember the property consisting predominately of farmland and suburban homes. For 35 years, my grandparents grew crops on their five acres on Rensch Road, and there wasn't a swamp in sight. Other farmers in the area had larger farms and raised cattle and crops on their land, as well.
Next time you drive on campus, you can picture the campus as I do: fields, yellow butterflies, a winding creek, and families who gave up their homes and their land so the campus could become a reality.
Donna M. Bartkowski, M.S. '81 & B.A. '77
Tonawanda, New York
Digital arts degree had a precedent
One brief comment about the cover story run in the Winter 2001 issue of UB Today ("You Can Call Her Betty"). In the concluding paragraphs of this story, you quote remarks made by Provost Elizabeth ("Betty") Capaldi concerning expanding master's programs at UB. To me, it is ironic, fascinating, cheering, and finally, at some level, almost absurd to find mention of new B.S./M.S. programs in computer science and computational physics paired with a brief description of a "new" master's degree in digital arts.
I worked for about three years with [the late media study professor and avant-garde filmmaker] Hollis Frampton to help him craft a curriculum for digital arts, combining core concepts of computer science and electrical engineering, image-making technologies such as photography and video, and the cultural development of art.
How nice to know that UB has come around. How sad that it has taken more than 20 years to do so.
Helene M. Houston, M.A. '86
Buffalo, New York
Aerial photo evokes memories
I would like to thank the staff of UB Today for putting the beautiful aerial photo of the North Campus on the back of the Winter 2001 issue. It is amazing how one picture can bring back so many memories.
Take a look at your copy of that issue as I conduct a quick tour of my UB experience. Starting on the left, we see the Governors Complex, where I enjoyed the company of fellow UB Honors Program students for four years. Moving clockwise across the parking lots and undeveloped areas toward the Ellicott Complex, I am reminded of walking back to my room after late-night jam sessions with my band Infinigon, and flying my kite in what is now the "Governors E" parking lot. A 45-minute drive north into the horizon takes us into Niagara County, where I experienced my first and only sky-diving adventure. It was as beautiful as the sky in the photo suggests.
Continuing clockwise, we come to where my friend Mark played the bongos on frozen Lake LaSalle, with its echoes breaking the silence of the late-night air. Trees line the road up to Alumni Arena, where I waited with thousands to enter the Peter Gabriel concert (in 1995, I would return to enjoy King Crimson in the new Center for the Arts). Finally, to the south we see a hint of Millersport Highway, where the Bluebird buses would whisk us to a whole other campus full of experiences.
I enjoyed sharing these stories with my coworkers, and now have the picture on my computer desktop. I wonder how many alumni would like to have a poster of this for their home or office? Thanks again.
John Neumann, B.S. '90
Making a difference in treating pain
As an alumnus of UB, I had a chance to read Lois Baker's informative article on the pain research conducted by Dr. Jeffrey Lackner at the Behavioral Medicine Clinic of the Center for Pain Management at ECMC ("When the Pain Doesn't Go Away," Winter 2001).
I know firsthand what it is like to experience chronic pain and navigate a medical system that spends too little time understanding the patient's suffering, and too much time throwing medications at problems that might be better treated by improving patient coping skills.
Some years ago, I learned in my toxicology coursework at UB that diseases are not strictly biological, but are influenced by the way patients think and behave, as well as their environment. It is unfortunate that not enough health-care professionals recognize the complexity of chronic pain and the value of treating the entire person-by balancing medical care with coping skills training.
Chester Romejko, B.A. '98
Buffalo, New York
Response from a like-minded reader
Talk about coincidence. I just finished reading an article in UB Today ("An Operatic Life," Winter 2001) about Valerian Ruminski, the UB alumnus who made his Metropolitan Opera debut in January. (I was given a copy of the magazine by a UB alumnus with whom I work at a Manhattan law firm.) Interesting fellow, to say the least, but what is more interesting-as well as similar-are Mr. Ruminski's interests in poet Charles Bukowski and the Buffalo Bills.
I am a crime fiction writer with a first novel coming out this fall from Carroll & Graf. I am also a Bukowski loyalist, and I sport a Buffalo Bills tattoo on my left biceps.
Anyway, since Don Giovanni is my favorite opera, I will get the chance to see Mr. Ruminski at the New York City Opera in a few weeks, from the time of writing this. Go Valerian! Go Bills!
Charles P. Stella
Port Washington, New York