UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Winter 2002
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President's Message

UB's mission in a global community


A strong commitment to community leadership has always been central to UB's mission as a public research university. In the wake of our national and international crises, nurturing supportive community relationships has never been more critical. The events of the past few months have brought home just how deeply world affairs affect our entire university family, and have shown us how deeply connected we, as the state's largest and most comprehensive public research university, are to the larger global community. Teaching our students how to be active, informed citizens has always been at the core of UB's fundamental educational mission. Now, more than ever, this mission starts with giving our students the tools to be thoughtful, caring citizens not only of their city, state and nationóbut also of the world.

As SUNY's flagship institution, we conceive our role as comprehending a host of related missions: calling us to social, economic and service leadership within our region, our state and ultimately our national and international educational communities. What can we learn, as a university community, from the tragic events of September 11 and the continuing process of recovery and adjustment that we experience in its difficult aftermath?

World Trade Center Clean-up  
UB engineers are conducting post-disaster assessments as part of a NSF-funded study.  
Photo courtesy of MCEER
A key lesson is that public research universities like UB play a central and strategic role in determining the ways in which our society understands and responds to cultural crises. UB is a research university, and in times of national and global disasters, the federal government frequently calls on the academy's scientific experts. Immediately following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, for example, a team of researchers from UB's Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) visited the site to begin formulating ideas about how earthquake-engineering techniques can help buildings better withstand terrorist attacks. Just as vital to addressing the needs of our nation are the arts, humanities and social sciences. By placing a high priority on the liberal education we provide as a basis for all our undergraduates at UB, we ensure that each of our students possesses the necessary intellectual training and analytical tools to make sense of world events. We believe that by teaching our students about other nations' values and ideologies, and encouraging them to understand how other cultures view the United States, we not only prepare them to enter a global economy, but also enable them to recognize how strongly their own lives are connected to international affairs.

At my annual fall address before the university faculty in October, I offered a five-year prospectus for UB that outlines our commitment to our threefold mission of research, teaching and public service. That prospectus draws very heavily on UB's Memorandum of Understanding with SUNY System Administration. The full PowerPoint presentation utilized in that talk may be viewed online at http://www.buffalo.edu/president/facpresent.html, but here is a thumbnail summary of UB's goals for the next five years:

  • Improve the quality of our undergraduates by raising our admission standards while increasing our student retention rates.
  • Expand our enrollment while we increase selectivity. By 2004, we intend to boost our total enrollment; in the same time span, we expect our undergraduate admission rate to drop from 75 percent to 60 percent and we plan to implement even more stringent standards for acceptance to our graduate programs.
  • Enhance graduate education by expanding and diversifying our master's degree program offerings and increasing the focus, strength and selectivity of our Ph.D. programs.
  • Recruit and retain the best and brightest faculty to attract promising undergraduate and graduate students, and to help realize their potential. By 2009, we plan to hire 300 new faculty, including 135 scientists and engineers.
  • Increase our sponsored-research funding to meet state priorities. By 2005, we will raise our total annual research expenditures to $210 million, with federal research expenditures accounting for $110 million of this amount.

In order to accomplish all this, we will focus our efforts on doing very well in all that we decide to doówithout trying to do everything that a university might do. By planning strategically for the future, and by achieving excellence on all fronts, UB will continue in the leading ranks of the nation's great public institutions of higher education. Our long-term mission for UB envisions our university as a vibrant and truly international educational community, committed to a collaborative model of teaching, research and service for the global 21st century.

William R. Greiner
President, University at Buffalo

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