Whenever I talk with alumni visiting campus after a long time away, they invariably have two reactions. First, they are amazed by how much has changed since their student days. And then they realize that what is truly exciting is what has not changed—the UB spirit they know and love.
For me, that response goes to the heart of what makes UB great. Great universities know their history. They celebrate their traditions. At the same time, they never stop evolving, refining and moving toward the next frontier.
There’s no doubt that UB has transformed. These changes are visible everywhere you look. You’ll find them in the research lab, where Communities of Excellence are bringing together scholars across the disciplines to break ground in critical areas from climate change to cancer therapy. You’ll find them in historic campus icons like the beautifully renovated Hayes Hall, whose grand reopening we celebrated this fall, and in brand-new buildings constructed on all three UB campuses—including the state-of-the-art downtown home for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, opening in 2017. And you’ll find them in the classroom, library and learning spaces throughout campus and beyond, where this fall’s launch of an innovative general education curriculum is the centerpiece of a reimagined undergraduate experience.
Transformation on this scale doesn’t happen overnight. It develops slowly, incrementally, over many years. Transformation takes shape through many voices and viewpoints coming together in the shared pursuit of excellence.
That’s exactly what has happened at UB. More than a decade ago, we launched the UB 2020 strategic vision, setting in motion the institutional transformation that continues today.
We imagined a new research paradigm gathering scholars across fields to tackle urgent challenges—huge, complex, multifaceted problems facing health care, the environment and social justice.
We imagined a unique educational experience that brings the research enterprise closer to our students and offers relevant, direct experiences preparing them for global leadership in their chosen fields.
We recognized that to fully realize our vision, we would also need to create physical landscapes supporting world-class research and education. We imagined three distinct, vibrant UB campuses, seamlessly connected to each other and deeply embedded in their communities.
And we set to work building the components of this vision—step by step.
The scope of UB’s transformation is expansive. But every element stems from a simple principle, one that has been part of the bedrock of our university since our founding 170 years ago. That principle is about collaboration toward the public good—whether that means partnering across the disciplines to confront a threat to public health or social justice, working to build a physical campus plan that enhances our connections with each other and with our neighborhoods, or preparing our students to be engaged citizens who will transform their communities locally and globally.
So while UB has transformed in incredible ways, the vision driving this transformation is the same that has guided us from the start: to make the world around us a better place through our ideas and our discoveries. We know that to realize this vision fully, it must be more than an abstract ideal. We have to live it and build on it every day. And we have to model it for our students—so they have the foundation to create their own profound impact as tomorrow’s graduates.