The university has some natural advantages. It is in a wonderfully livable city (20 minutes to everywhere, mathematically impossible, but experientially true), offering reasonably priced urban living in beautiful downtown homes with all the advantages of city life, including a lovely park, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the city's other museums and cultural attractions. There is also the opportunity to live, as I do, in Clarence Center, with over seven acres of land and all kinds of wildlife (including a bobcat who visited only once, thank goodness), and for all, there are lakes, mountains and Toronto-all within easy driving distance.
Those of us who have been at universities in other places (for me it was West Lafayette, Indiana, for Purdue; and Gainesville, Florida, for the University of Florida) appreciate what we have here in terms of livability. And I haven't even mentioned the food. As we all know, Buffalo has excellent food, both in the supermarkets and in restaurants. It's a fine place to live and to raise a family.
More to the point, we have the basic structure of a world-class university. Very few universities have the strengths we possess in medicine and engineering, as well as in computer science, the three most critical areas for the next stage of scientific development resulting from the mapping of the human genome. Our proposed center of excellence in bioinformatics (see story beginning on page 14) is a natural. At UB we have all this and strengths in the arts, humanities and professional schools. We have the only law, pharmacy and architecture schools in the State University of New York system, and in which we have one of only two dental schools as well. The original school at UB is our medical school, which has outstanding strengths in the new biology. This gives us the ability to do interdisciplinary research and education at a level possible at few other places in the country.
The plan for our future excellence involves a few simple principles:
Principle 1 Generate the revenue we need to be as good as we want to be.
We want to be a top, world-class research university. We are close, but not quite there. To attain the quality we want in students, faculty, research, education and facilities, we need money. We can obtain this money by first increasing our private fund-raising, second by increasing our patent and license activity, and third by increasing our continuing education activities. We plan on improving the quality of our students by increasing scholarships for undergraduates and increasing stipends for graduate students.
Competition is keen for the very best students and the very best faculty; UB can compete successfully, if we can generate the funding comparable to that provided by other top-notch universities. We will do this by our own efforts in fund-raising and grant writing, and by expanding enrollment at the graduate level.
Principle 2 Become as efficient as we can, because dollars generated by efficiency can be invested in quality.
We are embarking on a major study of administrative roles and other university responsibilities that, nevertheless, are not our core teaching and research functions. Every dollar we can redirect to teaching and research focuses us in the right direction.
Principle 3 Invest our money wisely by rewarding quality and productivity and improvements in both.
We ask each person and unit, "What have you done this year better than last?" To have a better university, each of us needs to get better each year. If we removed a bureaucratic obstacle, made an office more efficient or improved the quality of our research or teaching, each of us has helped.
Principle 4 Strive for excellence.
We must compare ourselves to the very best in all we do; we must strive to achieve and surpass these levels. The people here have this capacity. Striving for excellence must be our constant aim. Our comparisons are to the very best research universities in the country, the company in which we belong.
Principle 5 Use the UB name and logo everywhere, and associate all the wonderful things we do with that institutional identity.
The university's reputation will then accrue to that common identity. UB stands for quality and excellence; by each of us using the same name and logo, we all benefit from the excellent reputation that is tied to that identity: University at Buffalo, The State University of New York-a place where excellence is a given.
Elizabeth D. Capaldi
Provost, University at Buffalo