Full presidential partner, and friend of UB in her own right
“I think my most important duty has been ‘friend-raising,’” Mrs. Greiner says during a June interview. “It is probably my role above all others. I’d like to think we have made many friends for the university along the way, and I feel as if we have made some friends for ourselves, too.”
While serving UB, Mrs. Greiner has also served the interests of presidential partners nationwide, particularly those at fellow member institutions of the Association of American Universities (AAU). She has served as a senior advisor to AAU President Nils Hasselmo, a position she will continue to hold until her husband’s successor is named. Among other duties, Mrs. Greiner has primary responsibility for providing planning, leadership and staff support for the AAU Partners council. This organization provides an opportunity for partners of the AAU presidents and chancellors to discuss common issues and concerns, while mentoring new partners and helping improve performance in their own roles. In addition to her AAU service, Mrs. Greiner has long been active in the Council of Presidents’ and Chancellors’ Spouses of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), serving as the group’s chair in 1998.
The scope of presidential partner duties is vast and varied. Speaking engagements, recruitment activities, community board service and fund-raising are among the typical obligations cited on an AAU partner job description, in addition to the almost daily responsibilities of entertaining, attending events and overseeing the operation of an official residence. Among the tips Mrs. Greiner passes on to her counterparts are the lessons learned overseas. The Greiners have traveled abroad extensively, fostering exchanges or other academic programs, or supporting UB’s growing network of international alumni chapters. Sensitive to every cultural current that could enhanceor hindermutual understanding, Mrs. Greiner makes it a practice to learn about the host country’s language and customs in preparation for these trips.
Back home, the president’s residence at 889 LeBrun Road in Amherst has been the setting for many of Mrs. Greiner’s “friend-raising” activities. Beyond overseeing its décor and upkeep, she has taken a deeper, curatorial interest in the house, believed to have been built in 1936–37 and bearing multiple historic connections with members of the UB family. From the beginning of President Greiner’s administration, Mrs. Greiner sought to make the home an elegant showcase for UB’s academic and service-oriented traditions, as well as a comfortable setting for university and community gatherings. Gifts to UBincluding crystal, china and silverare now on display throughout the public areas of the house. Almost all the art displayed in the home is by present or former UB faculty artists.
Mrs. Greiner calls herself “a high-energy person,” a quality that is much in evidence in her work on behalf of UB. This level of energy is not surprising, given her extensive athletic background and her continuing enjoyment of many sports. She is also a former tap dancer who performed in Connecticut and New York City shows with her childhood friend Tomie dePaola, now a well-known writer and illustrator of children’s books. Her energy, paired with her sincere enthusiasm for UB, has made for an inspired formula for success in her many university roles; Mrs. Greiner actively participates in more than 100 university events annually both on and off campus, mostly with her husband of 46 years by her side. She emphasizes that she could not have accomplished all that she has for the university without the support of the president’s office staff and many others at UB, to whom she is “extraordinarily grateful.”
Asked how she has guarded her privacy in such a demanding and public position, Mrs. Greiner allows, “I’m probably one of the worst examples among the partners as far as keeping time for ourselves. We started out thinking we’d keep one or two days a week. Of course it can’t be a weekend because we have [Bulls] football games; we also entertain at the Bills games. And people like to entertain us on the weekendsthat’s when they’re free. When I think something is important I can talk Bill into doing it, and when he thinks it’s important, he can talk me into doing it. And so we do everything,” she says, laughing.
“People ask, ‘What do you do on a night off?’ And I think, ‘Let’s see, we go over to the dorms and have dinner with the students’that’s a night off!”
In one of what will surely be a series of valedictory honors, members of the UB Women’s Club recently surprised Mrs. Greiner with proclamations from several government leadersincluding New York Governor George E. Pataki, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, and Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masielloapplauding her work on behalf of UB and the citizens of Western New York. Mrs. Greiner is a longtime member and honorary president of the 58-year-old service organization.
In 1997, this former University of Connecticut student was named an Honorary Alumna of UB. One senses that Mrs. Greiner takes this credential very seriously, as she has done with all her roles of service to UB. And just how would she like to be remembered as UB’s first lady during this pivotal period of 1991–2003?
“That I cared,” she says simply, with a smile.