UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Fall 2004
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Message from the President
Message from the Associate Vice President

The investiture of John B. Simpson as UB’s 14th president will take place on Friday, October 15 at 3 p.m. in the Center for the Arts. For updates on the ceremony, inaugural events taking place throughout October and a live Web cast of the investiture, go to www.buffalo.edu/inauguration.

Capen Inauguration
Samuel P. Capen (left) receives the keys to the university from Council Chair Walter P. Cooke at Capen’s inauguration as UB chancellor, October 28, 1922. Capen accepted these symbols “with full realization of the honor and responsibility conferred.” UB’s leaders were called chancellor until 1962.

from the President
Inaugurating a new chapter in
UB history


In the past few months, many people—faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, community members and colleagues at other institutions—have kindly asked what my thoughts are as I look forward to my official investiture as UB’s 14th president on October 15, 2004. My answer is simply that I view this special event as a milestone in my academic life, to be sure, and one of great personal significance to me.

More importantly, however, I believe that this formal academic ceremony truly belongs to the university as a whole, and it is a highly meaningful event for our entire community. More than the inauguration of a new president, this ceremony marks the inauguration of a new chapter in UB history, one in which every member of our university community is charged with establishing a course for our future academic growth and leadership. We will together usher in this new chapter in the life of our distinguished university, and affirm our commitment to furthering our institutional mission as a leading public research university.

As such, UB is committed to the creation, transmission and application of knowledge. All that we do at UB—from the discoveries that are initiated in our labs and libraries, to the instruction that takes place in our classrooms and in the community, to the translation of this knowledge into life-changing, world-shaping applications—stems from and returns to this fundamental academic mission. UB defines itself first and foremost as an academic institution, and this intellectual focus and vibrancy inform every aspect of our university community.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term university as “the whole body of teachers and scholars engaged, at a particular place, in giving and receiving instruction in the higher branches of learning.” My own sense is that the 21st-century university is in reality much more expansive and infinitely more interesting and productive than this definition would have us believe.

I would argue that our academic enterprise transcends the boundaries of place, and even of time. I am not speaking here of the “virtual university,” an institution connected only by an invisible network of digital technology, although that is an interesting concept of the 21st-century university. Rather, I have in mind a dynamic, engaged and diverse intellectual community that spans the globe as well as the generations.

No matter where they may call home, be it the North Campus, or the South Campus, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, or across the seas in one of our international programs, UB scholars are knit closely together by virtue of shared community ideals and achievement. Every member of the university community—from the faculty, staff and students on campus, to our alumni, community members and other university friends in more distant locales—is part of the same vibrant, active and multifaceted intellectual endeavor that is UB. And thus, every member of our university community is vitally involved in and important to the success of UB’s academic enterprise.

As alumni, you play an integral role in the ongoing intellectual life at the heart of UB, and your alma mater is immeasurably enriched by your lifelong membership in this academic community. In supporting the work of our faculty and the opportunities given our students, you are contributing to the high quality and integrity of this enterprise. Your commitment to UB’s intellectual endeavor helps to ensure that this quality is recognized throughout all the communities we serve and interact with around the world, as does your own work. Whenever you share your talents, your knowledge, your expertise and your experiences with others, you are contributing to one of the central aspects of UB’s academic mission—the transmission and dissemination of knowledge.

I look forward to joining you in affirming our commitment to the intellectual values and goals that have made UB the distinguished academic institution it is today, and in pledging our commitment to the innovative, proactive and creative pursuit of knowledge that will guide our bright future as a leading public research institution.

John B. Simpson
President, University at Buffalo

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