UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Fall 2004
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from the President
A New Season at UB

  John B. Simpson, President, University at Buffalo

It was my privilege to address the graduates of the University at Buffalo Class of 2005 on May 15. This occasion, and the divisional commencement exercises and celebrations that took place throughout the month, offered an opportunity for the entire university community to gather with families and friends of these graduates to recognize their achievements and contributions as UB students, and to celebrate their bright futures as UB alumni.

This fall, we welcome a new and very promising group of incoming students to our academic community. Like the 2005 graduates who recently became our newest alumni, these students will contribute a wealth and diversity of talents, insights and ideas to UB. Our university will be immeasurably enriched by these contributions, as will the larger communities that are impacted by UB.

As a new season begins, we look ahead to the new discoveries, opportunities, collaborations, and avenues for knowledge creation and sharing that will emerge in the academic year ahead. Through the university-wide strategic planning process known as UB 2020, our vision for our future as a great public research university continues to crystallize into tangible and substantial progress on campus, and beyond. As this process of growth evolves, one key constant remains: it is our students who are at its core.

Those students we welcome to campus this fall will become part of a long and distinguished tradition, becoming part of the fabric of UB's history, as well as part of its future. The unfolding history of the university represents a continuum of leadership and distinction, a continuum that has sustained our university from its origins as a medical faculty in 1846 through its early years as a private institution, to its present status as the largest and most comprehensive public research university in the SUNY system.

In my address to the Class of 2005, I spoke to our graduates about the vital role they had played in UB’s growth during their time on campus, and about the continuing impact they will have on the university as alumni. On that occasion, I quoted from a commencement address delivered June 10, 1962 by then-Chancellor Clifford C. Furnas, whose audience was the last class to graduate from the private University of Buffalo before it became a public university as part of SUNY.

Furnas defined the significance of this institutional evolution in a way that makes explicit the parallel between the transformation of students into alumni, and the transformation of a private institution into a public university: "Becoming a state university opens up for your alma mater the possibility and the probability of far greater service in quantity and in quality, in depth and in breadth, than has been true in the past," said Furnas. In becoming a public university, UB's mission of service expanded in significant ways, with a commitment that extends well beyond the Buffalo region.

The charge Furnas spoke of at this pivotal moment in our university's history remains UB's guiding mission at the beginning of the 21st century. Integrating our academic and public service missions has always been the university's mandate, from its founding in the mid-19th century. Our response to this call resonates with tremendous force throughout the communities we serve, demonstrating the profound impact exerted by an academic community dedicated to public service through the creation, dissemination and transmission of knowledge.

It is our students—past, present and future—whose response to this call remains vitally important. As I remarked to our graduates, "It is through you—our students and our soon-to-be graduates—that the benefits and the opportunities of a UB education are visibly manifest. All that you have learned, achieved and discovered during your time at UB illustrates the transformative impact education can have upon an individual. All that you will yet achieve as UB alumni represents something even more important—the power of education to transform the world of the future."

This is the charge I issued to our graduates, and it is the same charge that I extend now to our newest group of UB students joining us, and to you, our distinguished alumni. I look forward to working with you during this transformation—for UB and for the world to which we contribute.

John B. Simpson
President, University at Buffalo

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