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editor's essay

Sharing Our Story With the World

When UB embarked on a new identity and brand strategy in spring 2015, our graduates stepped enthusiastically to the fore. As part of the initial research, the UB community, including faculty, students, staff and alumni, were sent a comprehensive survey with the goal of understanding and defining who we are as an institution, and what sets us apart. Nearly 4,500 people responded, exceeding our projections by a whopping 272 percent. Later in the process we did a second round of surveys to test our storytelling platform for authenticity; this time we drew more than 3,500 respondents, or 200 percent over projections.

Most impressive of all? More than half of the respondents for each survey were alumni, supporters and friends. In other words, your input was impactful in helping us shape our strategy, and identify our key attributes and traits as an institution. The university, and all of us who together make UB what it is, exemplifies purposeful ambition, a global perspective, radical empathy and bold participation. In everything we do, we are pragmatic, tenacious, inclusive, ambitious, proud and dynamic.

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When trying to understand how such attributes and traits take human shape, I have only to look at our own magazine. In the feature on alumnus Marc Edwards, we learn how a research scientist risked his health and finances to take on mammoth federal agencies in the cause of safe drinking water—twice: first for children in Washington, D.C., and later, for the imperiled residents of Flint, Mich. In an informal roundtable with three international students, we learn that merely being present on the UB campus affords a global outlook, no matter where you’re from. As student Paula Elksne of Staburags, Latvia, says: “Once you’ve been taken out of your culture and put into a mix of others, it’s kind of really cool to just see where you stand yourself.”

The branding and identity strategy, unveiled in April, also clears up the fuzzy nomenclature that has dogged UB for years. In what may be a historic first, all of UB’s schools and units will be aligned under one official name—“University at Buffalo.” One of the most visible changes is with the Division of Athletics, which will now use “UB” and “Buffalo” as its primary identifiers. Athletics is also introducing a new spirit mark and tagline.

Finally—another outcome of our branding initiative—you may notice some new typefaces in this issue along with an updated palette, including colors like UB Blue, Hayes Hall White and Putnam Gray. The colors have been carefully chosen, and named, to reflect our pride in a dynamic and confident university community that knows unequivocally who we are, what we do and why it matters.

Kristin Woods

Kristin Woods

We’re happy to announce that Kristin Woods has been named assistant vice president for alumni engagement, effective July 1. Most recently assistant vice president for alumni and career services at the University of Richmond, Woods brings to UB more than 20 years’ experience in alumni relations and engagement. Her work aligning career development and alumni relations functions has become a structural model for other colleges and universities.