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The Century Mark

The College of Arts and Sciences, UB’s largest and most diverse school, opened 100 years ago with a handful of courses, a tiny student body and two lone professors. Following are selected highlights to celebrate the journey.

From a 1929 Endowment Campaign Poster


Courses in arts and sciences are offered for the first time. Thirty-five students are taught by two full-time faculty. University of Buffalo Havana Cigars sell for 5 cents.

First graduating class of Arts and Sciences, 1920


Townsend Hall at Niagara Square is given to UB by the Women’s Education and Industrial Union of Buffalo. The college’s home for seven years, the building is later sold and the name transferred to the current Townsend Hall on the South Campus.

Townsend Hall

Townsend Hall


UB issues historic non-discrimination statement: “For all Buffalo Boys and  Girls regardless of race, creed or class.” Ad in Iris yearbook for Lutz’s Barber Shop promises “Electric Hair Cutting, Facial Massaging and Cranium Manipulating done with Ambidextrous Facility.”

1921 Iris yearbook

1921 Iris yearbook


Samuel P. Capen, the first director of the American Council on Education, is inaugurated as university chancellor. Capen will lead the university for 28 years, demonstrating a profound commitment to the arts and sciences.

Capen inaugural invite

Capen inaugural invitations


Dean of Women Lillias MacDonald oversees dramatic increases in female enrollment, especially in the College.

Lillias MacDonald

Lillias MacDonald, Dean of Women at UB (1922-1956)


Robert Frost visits UB.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost


Hengerer’s department store downtown offers hi-boy Stetson boots for $10.75.


Hengerers logo, c.1936


Library director and English professor Charles D. Abbott founds the UB Poetry Collection, cultivating a wide network of English-language poets.

Charles Abbott

Charles Abbott portrait by Beth Turner


Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, UB reorganizes its programs of instruction to allow students to finish their courses in shorter periods.

military men on campus

GIs on campus


Total enrollment at UB is 7,045. The number of veterans enrolled reaches a peak at 2,511, with the majority in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Pharmacy students c.1946

Pharmacy students, c.1946


Clifford C. Furnas is inaugurated as chancellor; he later becomes the State University of New York at Buffalo’s first president. Olive Lester takes the helm of the psychology department, becoming the first woman to chair an arts and sciences department at UB.

clifford furnas

Clifford Furnas and his wife, Sparkle


A Buffalo couple, Frederick and Alice Slee, leave their entire fortune to support music at UB, including the playing of Beethoven’s string quartet cycle in perpetuity. Vic Carbone of Alpha Phi Delta and Loretta Minsterman are listed as being “pinned” in The Spectrum.

alice slee

Alice Slee


Art department (now Visual Studies) merges with the Albright Art School. The university establishes the Slee professorship with composer Aaron Copland as its first holder.

Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland


UB joins the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Full professors’ salaries begin at $9,300.

Engineering mechanical drawing class

Engineering mechanical drawing class


The College of Arts and Sciences has nearly 400 faculty.

Class held outdoors on South Campus

Class held outdoors on South Campus


Albert Cook is named chair of the English department, and over the next four years transforms the faculty, bringing in such visiting authors as Allen Ginsberg and Robert Duncan.

Robert duncan

Robert Duncan


In a legendary hoax, the “Thallus of Marchantia” arrives at Buffalo Airport. Alleged potentate is a UB student who hoodwinks local media.

Students protest thallus’ arrival

Students protest Thallus’ arrival


Classified ad in The Spectrum looks for a female roommate to share a large apartment for $41.

Goodyear woman's dorm room

Goodyear woman's dorm room, c. 1960s


The College of Arts and Sciences is divided into three faculties: Arts and Letters, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social Sciences and Administration. Martin Luther King Jr. gives a speech on “The Future of Integration” at Buffalo’s Kleinhans Music Hall.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.


UB’s English program is ranked 19th in the country by the American Council on Education. Construction begins on the Amherst Campus. Spring semester ends earlier than usual after four months of demonstrations and strikes focused on the Vietnam War, civil rights and other social issues.

UB students during riots

UB students during riots


Total university enrollment is 23,763.

Students walking through halls in Baldy on the North Campus spine circa 1970s.

Students walk through hallway in Baldy along North Campus spine, c. 1970s


Elizabeth Kennedy teaches the first women’s studies course at UB. “The Greening of America” by Charles Reich and “Future Shock” by Alvin Toffler are the best-selling books on campus.

Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy

Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy


Poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gwendolyn Brooks read from their works in Norton Hall (now Squire Hall) on the South Campus.

students chat in front of Norton Hall (now squire)

Students chat in front of Norton Hall (now Squire Hall)


The Amherst Campus officially becomes the university’s central campus, with the completion of the Capen/Norton/Talbert complex along the academic spine. Blizzard of ’77 blasts Western New York with record snowfalls and high winds.

Car after the Blizzard of ’77

The Blizzard of ’77 aftermath


The Marian E. White Anthropology Museum opens to the public.

Marian White

Marian White


Steven B. Sample is appointed 12th president and immediately announces his goal to develop UB into one of the nation’s top 10 public research institutions. He also pledges “to reaffirm the liberal arts and sciences as the core of the academic enterprise.” The Honors Program (later Honors College) is established.

President Steven B. Sample

President Steven B. Sample who led UB from 1982 to 1991


Students are shown competing in a linguistics competition in Clemens Hall

Students compete in linguistics-based 'Olympiada' in Clemens Hall

The Undergraduate College is created to improve general education, especially for underclassmen. A sign posted at Undergraduate Library stipulates “No food or drink/Smoking in designated areas only.”


In an address to the academic community, President Sample urges a reintegration of the Arts and Sciences and “a reestablishment of the intellectual leadership of the liberal arts within the academy.”

Frank Cipolla, conductor with Steven B. Sample, William Ortiz, and Jan Williams

Steven B. Sample (left) pictured with composer William Ortiz and percussionist Jan Williams


UB is selected for membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU).

Official AAU Logo

Official AAU logo


William R. Greiner is inaugurated as UB’s 13th president.

william Greiner

William Greiner


Filmmaker Spike Lee speaks in Alumni Arena during Black History Month in February.

Spike Lee

Spike Lee


The Center for the Arts opens with a three-week festival. Performers include the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Tanzfabrik, the Berlin Dance Company.

Center for the Arts

Center for the Arts


UB enrolls 25,000 students, offers almost 300 degree programs and has an operating budget of almost $600 million. Fred “Chico” Lager, former CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, shares ice cream and expertise at an open house for freshmen.

Commencement fashion

Commencement fashion


University Libraries acquires its three millionth volume, Jacob Rueff’s “De conceptu et generatione hominis.” It’s added to the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection.

“De conceptu et generatione hominis”

“De Conceptu et Generatione Hominis”


UB’s arts and sciences departments are reunited in a reestablished College of Arts and Sciences.

Bronze Buffalo

The Bronze Buffalo located in front of the Center for the Arts, North Campus


New York City art dealer David K. Anderson donates the Anderson Gallery building to UB. He also establishes a $2-million trust to assist with exhibitions and upkeep.

UB Anderson Gallery

UB Anderson Gallery


Carl Dennis, professor of English, is named recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his eighth collection, “Practical Gods.”

Carl Dennis

Carl Dennis


John B. Simpson becomes UB’s 14th president. Novelist Joyce Carol Oates lectures as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series. President Simpson launches UB 2020, the strategic planning initiative to build the university’s prominence as a world-class public research university.

John B. Simpson

John B. Simpson


In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, UB opens its doors to students from four schools in New Orleans forced to suspend classes because of the storm. The UB Humanities Institute is established to help “question, comprehend and transform an increasingly complex world.”

People sit on a roof waiting to be rescued after Hurricane Katrina

People sit on a rooftop awaiting rescue following Hurricane Katrina


The 14th Dalai Lama delivers an address at UB Stadium on the theme of promoting peace across borders through education.

14th Dalai Lama

14th Dalai Lama


The university launches “Building UB,” a comprehensive physical planning process. UB introduces undergraduate learning academies in research exploration, civic engagement and global perspectives.

Davis Hall

Davis Hall, part of “Building UB”


Annette Cravens (MSW ’68) donates her priceless collection of nearly 700 archaeological and ethnographic objects for a permanent exhibit at the UB Anderson Gallery.

Cravens collection

Cravens Collection located at UB Anderson Gallery


Satish K. Tripathi is inaugurated as UB’s 15th president. 

President Tripathi

President Tripathi’s inauguration


President Barack Obama delivers a major policy address on college affordability in Alumni Arena. Twenty-three new faculty members join the College of Arts and Sciences.

President Obama at UB

President Obama at UB

Sources include University Libraries timeline of UB history, 1846-2011; UB Archives reports and materials; “75 Years of Arts & Sciences,” UB Today, spring 1989.

Photography courtesy of University Archives, Douglas Levere and Nancy J Parisi