Pomp and Purpose
The investiture of John B. Simpson as UB president
Photo by Nancy J. Parisi
On the occasion of his investiture as the 14th president of the University at Buffalo, John B. Simpson on October 15, 2004, set a course for the university that will entail “great daring and great devotion, pursuing great achievement,” one that he predicted will culminate in victory with UB finding “its destined place among the nation’s very leading universities.”
Simpson told a capacity crowd in the Mainstage Theater, UB Center for the Arts, that “on the eve of a new era for UB and for public higher education, the University at Buffalo enters the arena.” He took inspiration from Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech, comparing the role of the public university to Roosevelt’s vision of a man who enters the arena as a citizen of the republic, quoting a passage from that speech delivered at the Sorbonne in 1910.
The dignified and moving ceremony blended pomp, sentiment, humor and music as Simpson set forth his vision for the university’s future, and heard congratulatory remarks from numerous colleagues, friends and officials who praised the personal qualities he brings to UB’s presidency. For his part, Simpson pledged that UB will work to improve access to public higher education “because this commitment to our society is as fundamental a role as the university can have.” He added that the public research university’s role is evolving and that, now more than ever, it spurs cultural, technological and economic development.
“Both across the nation and here in New York State, we must improve the ways in which we ensure public access to public universities,” he said. “We must do so not only because it is part of our public mission and because it is simply the right thing to do, but as well because higher education is foundational to our society and vital to our democracy.”