UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Fall 2004
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Message from the President
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President Simpson's Inaugural Address

from the President
Investing in academic excellence

Photo by Nancy J. Parisi


On October 15, I had the great honor of officially joining UBís distinguished tradition of leadership as the 14th president of the University at Buffalo. For me and for the university as a whole, the formal investiture ceremony was made all the more meaningful by the participation and engagement of the many diverse constituencies that both comprise and are served by our UB.

The investiture ceremony was the midpoint in a month-long observance of UBís great legacy and future promise as our university community gathered together to mark the inauguration of a new chapter in institutional history. Like the inaugural lectures, symposia, performances, exhibits and other special events organized across the university throughout October, the investiture ceremony truly was a university-wide celebration, representing the extended university family in all its rich diversity, and showcasing the great breadth and depth of UBís programs and resources.

As I remarked on that occasion, academic excellence must and will be the primary guiding principle that informs all that we do at UB; it permeates every aspect of our community and our work, both in the academy and in the world at large. Academic excellence, I stated then, may be broadly defined as the sum total of our entire academic enterprise:

It is the moment of intellectual connection in the classroom between a student, her professor, and a new concept; it is that moment of electric revelation that takes place between a scholar and his text. It is the researcher sharing her laboratory discoveries with her peers across the country; it is the new artist displaying his canvas for the first time. It is the architect and the engineer working in tandem to create solutions for assisted living; it is the medical resident volunteering her time to assist with local clinical care. It is the UB alumnus applying his knowledge and expertise to strengthen the community in which he lives. Academic excellence is our universityís reason for being, and the highest manifestation of our purpose as a university. It is the thrilling vibrancy and diversity of our entire intellectual community in action, and it is the outstanding impact that UBís contributions have here within Western New York, across our state and nation, and around the world.

The scope and depth of UBís impact are indeed profound, and through our considered pursuit of academic excellence, we have the capacity to effect great and meaningful change in the many communities we serve. But in order to fulfill our great public trust, we at UB must also do everything in our power to ensure equitable public access to the academic experience we provide as a major public research university.

Achieving our mission of academic excellence calls upon the collective strengths and contributions of every member of the university community. As the universityís diverse constituencies came together to inaugurate a new era for UB, this distinguished assembly truly demonstrated this outstanding collective strength and commitment. It was a very proud day for our university, indeed, and a very meaningful one for me.

Of the many members of the UB family who participated in the formal investiture ceremony, the presence of our Alumni Pillars, who led the inaugural procession, was perhaps most profoundly moving, both for me and I believe for all who shared in this historic UB event. The Alumni Pillars are those UB alumni who celebrate 50 or more years of history with their alma mater, so the symbolism of their leadership on this dayówherein we reflected together upon UBís distinguished past as well as upon our promising futureówas especially fitting. I thank these dedicated university citizens for their participation.

As UB Alumni Association President Jennifer Wozniak commented in her remarks, UBís 182,000 alumni, who live in every state in the nation and in 122 countries around the world, have an impact that is truly international in scope. Across the globe and throughout history, UBís alumni have demonstrated themselves to be not only exemplary products of higher education, but also to be effective and passionate advocates for public higher education.

Thank you, as always, for your support for our UB. Your contributions and your leadership have been, and will continue to be, vitally important in enabling the university to more meaningfully and more equitably impact the many diverse publics we serve.

John B. Simpson
President, University at Buffalo

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