SILENT DISCO Imagine a dance floor packed with people swaying to the sound of … nothing. That’s what a silent disco looks like. But for the participants, who wear wireless headphones tuned in to one of several special audio channels, the beats are booming. A quirky approach to parties for well over a decade, silent discos are an increasingly popular offering on campus too—as this Welcome Weekend event in August quietly proved.
Before there were smartphones or home PCs or even Pong, there was a small rented space on Ridge Lea Road where five faculty members taught a handful of students. That was 1967, when UB’s computer science and engineering department (CSE), one of the nation’s first, was born. CSE marked its 50th anniversary in September with four days of events centered at Davis Hall. In addition to the department’s nearly 1,700 students, CSE alumni—many now working for Google, Microsoft and other tech giants—joined the celebration.
The historic number of first-year students we welcomed this past fall, topping even last year’s record-setting figure, which was just shy of 4,000.
An 1812 book believed to be the first ever printed in Buffalo, along with more than 300 other locally published 19th-century titles, has been checked into the University Libraries. The Eugene Musial Buffalo Imprint Collection is the work of its late namesake, an area bookstore owner who spent decades amassing pamphlets, biographies, maps and more. Highlights include the first directory of the village of Buffalo from 1828, assorted guidebooks of Niagara Falls from the 1830s and ’40s, and an 1840 journal kept by an inmate of the Erie County Jail. The collection, which offers unique insights into a rich era of the region’s history, will be digitized and made available online for public viewing.
*In case you missed it
HIGH MARKS. UB continues a decade-long rise to reach its loftiest perch yet among the nation’s best universities. In U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges rankings, UB came in at 41 among public universities and 97th overall. In the 2018 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education list, UB tied for 117th among 1,000 U.S. institutions—the highest among the SUNYs.
POSTDOC PROPS. With research interests in women’s health and aging, Hailey Banack of the School of Public Health and Health Professions has been named UB’s first Banting Fellow, Canada’s most prestigious award for postdoctoral researchers.
CALL TO ACTION. UB’s School of Nursing has received $1.92 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration, a federal agency, to expand its behavioral health workforce in underserved communities and combat the opioid epidemic in Western New York.
PIONEERING PROFESSOR. Paras Prasad, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical Engineering, was recently recognized with three national honors, including a Pioneer Award from the IEEE Nanotechnology Council.
A $4 million gift to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences from civil engineering alumnus Stephen Still (BS ’76) will help advance the burgeoning field of transportation, logistics and supply-chain management.
“Many of these students are really no different from any other students we have. They provide diversity, they are smart, they’re entrepreneurs … for us not to give them the opportunity to learn, to get an education, would really be a crime.”
The award-winning GRoW Home (for Garden, Relax or Work) has returned to its roots. A solar-powered living space with a built-in greenhouse/solarium that allows for year-round gardening, the GRoW Home was designed and constructed by more than 100 UB students under the direction of the School of Architecture and Planning. Now, after claiming second place in the U.S. Department of Energy’s national intercollegiate Solar Decathlon in 2015, the small-but-savvy home has come back from the competition site in Irvine, Calif., to a temporary spot on the South Campus (it will eventually move to North), where students worked through the summer and fall to rebuild the structure for its new role as a university and community resource center—and as a timely model for how to live sustainably regardless of the season.
A lone bagpiper played a mournful tune, and then eight coffins were lowered into the ground. “In respectful memory of the men, women and children of the Erie County Poorhouse, 1851–1913,” read the simple granite monument at the gravesite.
Thus were the remains of 372 persons laid to rest on Oct. 11, their names unknown but their lives honored by UB in a final, moving reinterment ceremony. They lived and died at the county poorhouse, once located at what is now the South Campus. When construction crews first encountered their unmarked, long-forgotten graves in 2008, UB undertook a painstaking effort to preserve, study and treat with dignity the remains of the people found. The nine-year endeavor was led in part by UB anthropologist Joyce E. Sirianni, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor.
“Well, my dear friends,” Sirianni said in a eulogy delivered at the Newman Center, “you’ve become part of our being, every one of you.”
Soon after, graduate students who had studied the poorhouse deceased became their pallbearers, carrying the coffins to hearses that would take them to Assumption Cemetery on Grand Island. The piper played “Going Home.”