A crowd of about 65 attended the initial gathering at the Big Hoss Restaurant in Denver to watch the Bills-Broncos NFL opener.
AS RECENTLY AS the late 1990s, only six chapters existed within the framework of the UB Alumni Association. A decade later, however, there are 21, with no. 22 soon to be formally chartered in Albany, NY, and another forming in Denver, CO.
How this came about is a story of alumni interest, spirit and volunteerism. In Denver, for example, three volunteers have taken the lead, including Jennifer Wozniak, MBA ’96 & BA ’92, past president of the UB Alumni Association. “When I moved to Denver a couple of years ago, I seemed to meet people with a Buffalo connection wherever I went,” says Wozniak. “That convinced me that a chapter would be a great idea.”
“Early last winter, as I paged through an issue of UB Today, pictures of the alumni chapter events looked like so much fun that I really wanted to join in,” adds Michelle (Vullo) Pastor, MBA ’90 & BS ’87. “When I found out there wasn’t a Denver chapter, I volunteered to help start one. Denver is so far from Buffalo, and I haven’t been home in years, so during our first event it was great for me to talk with others who could relate to UB, the Buffalo Bills and really good wings!”
Meanwhile, Stan Jezierski, BA ’98, called the UB Alumni Association to inquire about a Denver chapter. “I’d lived in Colorado since 1999, and one day I was browsing the UB Connect Web site when I saw there were over 1,000 alumni in the Denver area,” he says. “I thought it would be great to meet some of these people and share our memories of the university and Buffalo.”
Based on this collective interest, Associate Director for Alumni Relations Mike Jankowski began gathering data to determine the feasibility of a Denver chapter, researching the concentration of UB alumni in the region and the level of volunteer commitment, two of the main criteria for chapter creation and success.
The initial gathering, held at the Big Hoss Restaurant in Denver, attracted about 65. “Big Hoss,” who owns the establishment, is Stephen Orwat, originally from Depew, NY. Venues with Buffalo connections are often selected to host UB alumni events, bringing just a little bit more of Western New York to the experience. And like other chapter events, this one had as its backdrop a Bills matchup playing on TV.
“The best part of our first event was to see the instant camaraderie among alumni across several generations and the new friendships that were formed,” Wozniak says. Attendees included Donald Zaggle, BS ’52, chair of the board for Excelsior Software Inc., and his wife, Margaret.
The next step toward formalizing the Denver chapter is to hold a general meeting of all alumni who are interested in serving on the leadership board. Once those individuals are elected and three events held, the Denver chapter leader may apply for formal recognition from the UB Alumni Association board of directors in a year’s time. Watch the alumni Web site for Denver chapter progress!