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Bits of blue in a sea of red. Bulls fans held their own with equally passionate partisans of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Aug. 31, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The Bulls rallied from a 23-0 deficit after the first quarter to outscore the Buckeyes in the next two quarters before falling 40-20 to the nation’s number two ranked team before a crowd of 103,980.
Not surprisingly, many UB alumni live in Western New York. But did you know that 155,000 other alums live elsewhere, including 7,500 who reside outside the U.S.? Despite this widely scattered membership, the UB Office of Alumni Relations devotes much time, energy and resources toward keeping the family together.
Anyone interested in becoming involved with a chapter or affiliate should contact Mike Jankowski at email@example.com or 716-645-8713.
Alumni chapters—typically in regions with a significant population of alumni (1,000 or more within a 50-mile radius)—are one way for UB grads outside Western New York to stay in touch with each other and with the university. They offer a structure for activities and events to help build UB pride, support professional networking and foster camaraderie. They also serve to remind alumni of all the great things UB is doing.
“The vast majority of universities have chapter programs in order to strengthen the bond with alums,” says Mike Jankowski, associate director in the UB Office of Alumni Relations.
Even so, chapters are also challenging to maintain, especially for a university of UB’s size. Spurred on by a variety of factors from budgets to volunteer leadership changes, the alumni office and the UB Alumni Association board of directors recently conducted an audit of chapter programs. The result was a reorganization. “We studied the whole program to figure out what was working and also what wasn’t,” Jankowski explains. “While everyone agreed that chapters are a positive, we also wanted to focus on those regions that had committed volunteer leadership and were able to consistently provide quality programming.”
As a result, the program now has two tiers: chapters and affiliates. Regions that met the criteria set forth during the audit retained their chapter status; those that didn’t have been reclassified as affiliates.Among other qualities, those designated as chapters have a history of solid and engaged leadership, as well as successful event planning and implementation. Furthermore, chapters are of strategic importance to the university because of their alumni population or other factors. Affiliates, on the other hand, may be new or in a rebuilding phase. Or they may need time to recruit volunteer leadership and establish the presence required to be a full-fledged chapter. “Volunteers in affiliate areas need to prove that they have skin in the game. Bringing alums together in their area has to be as important to them as it is to us for it to work,” Jankowski says.
“We’ll continue to work with each chapter and affiliate to assist with alumni outreach and events,” Jankowski says. The intent, he adds, is to help chapters keep their status and for affiliates to elevate to chapter status.
One affiliate that has gained major traction in regaining its chapter status is Philadelphia. Gary Jastrzab, BA ’76 & BA ’76, executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, had been ruminating about how to get more involved with UB and fellow alumni in the Philly area. “Over the years, I would occasionally run into other former Buffalonians and UB graduates in Philadelphia, and always enjoyed comparing stories with them,” Jastrzab says. “It seemed to me that, through the UBAA, there was a good opportunity to establish a more permanent Buffalo-Philadelphia connection here.”
Erin Zack, UBAA associate director of affiliate programs and liaison to the Philadelphia chapter, struck up a friendship with Jastrzab and invited him to participate on the UBAA board. “I got to know Gary because he often came to our events, and he always told me how much UB meant to him. I knew that he would be great for the board and to help move Philly back to [being] a chapter,” Zack says. Jastrzab now sits on the board and is also a volunteer leader for the new Philadelphia affiliate.
With Jastrzab’s involvement, the Philadelphia group has steadily increased engagement with area alumni, holding several events that range from dinner and networking to baseball games and wine-tastings. Meanwhile, Jastrzab has been joined by three other alumni volunteers to continue the group’s momentum. They are Jay Schwartzkopf, BS ’97, Amy Weiss, MA ’89, and Gene Trybulski, PhD ’74.
“I’ve reached the point in my career where I have the motivation and opportunity to give something back to those who helped me get started on my life path,” says Jastrzab. “My UB experience meant so much to me, and I’d like to support and give back to the institution in some way.”
Pro athletes, celebrities, fans and fashionistas alike are the target market for UB alumnus Pete Augustine, BS ’87, president of New Era Cap Company headquartered in Buffalo, who spoke to fellow graduates during a lunchtime UB Downtown session April 10. Augustine highlighted the company’s 90+-year history, including how it became the official on-field cap for Major League Baseball and the NFL.
On May 1, the importance of water as a natural resource became abundantly clear when UB alumna Jill Jedlicka, MBA ’00 & BA ’96, executive director and riverkeeper for Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, addressed a crowd of 75. She discussed her organization’s ecological efforts toward preserving the quality of Western New York waterways and ensuring access to fishable, swimmable and drinkable water for future generations.
From Dracula to the zombie craze to economic development, fashion and politics, we leave no topic unexplored in our various speakers series. Keep an eye out for UB alumni events in Western New York or where you live at alumni.buffalo.edu/events.
Student boredom during semester break? Not if the UB Alumni Association and the Office of Career Services have anything to say about it. Together they presented a series of Career Conversations events in Albany, Buffalo, New York City and Rochester during winter break last January. Collectively, 118 alumni from myriad industries met with and advised 199 students and recent grads. Unlike a job fair, Career Conversations gives attendees access to alumni, plus the luxury of time, to have in-depth discussions on all manner of career-related topics. Students can use these events to begin building their UB network—one they may tap into throughout their careers for advancement and professional know-how.
Scout platoon leader Christopher S. Safulko, JD ‘13, with his senior scout, Sgt. Samuel Alter.
The heroic actions of a UB alumnus serving in Afghanistan riveted an audience of nearly 100 on April 9 as Christopher Safulko, JD ’13, shared his firsthand experiences serving as an executive officer and scout platoon leader in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. Safulko’s notable service was chronicled by Jake Tapper, former senior White House correspondent for ABC News, in his bestselling book, “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor,” published in November 2012.
The myth that vaccinations, like Trix cereal, are just for kids, was dispelled by Gale Burstein, MD ’90, Erie County health commissioner, during her presentation to alumni on Feb. 6, 2013.
Burstein took a show-of-hands poll asking the audience—the majority of whom graduated at least several decades ago—if they had been vaccinated for serious afflictions, such as hepatitis A and B, influenza, rubella and shingles. The results showed that most of the guests needed to call their doctors.
Burstein, also an associate clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is a member of a number of professional organizations and has been published in various scientific journals, including JAMA and Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Have you kept mementos of your time as a UB student? Your eight-track player, a Fall Fest ticket stub, a favorite T-shirt? “Keepsakes” is the name of a new feature that we’ll run in subsequent issues. Send us a photo of your item with a brief explanation of what it means to you. If we select it, we’ll contact you. Send photos and descriptions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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