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Official UB news and information for the media

2020 Tour for UB Alumni

Published April 18, 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the university’s 2020 Tour?

The 2020 Tour for UB Alumni is being conducted to help the university build deeper relationships with its more than 220,000 alumni who live all over the world. The best public universities have the most private support, and the president is committed to building lifelong relationships with our alumni. A strong alumni network benefits current students and recent grads because engaged alumni provide internship and career connections, help to recruit students to UB and help promote UB to others. Engaged alumni become UB donors who fund scholarships and programs, and help provide funding for new equipment and buildings.   For more information about the tour, go to

Has the 2020 Tour been successful?

Yes, the tour has been very successful – we are strengthening relationships with UB alumni around the world and building an alumni network that will benefit the careers of students and alumni for years to come.  Approximately 1,700 UB alumni have attended 19 tour events, and their feedback has been very positive and informative.

Those attending the events have pledged or donated $8.9 million to UB, and we expect that many of these alumni will continue to give to the university.   Most recently, one UB alumnus who attended a tour event pledged a $4 million bequest to the university. 

Through these events, we have learned a lot about UB alumni, their opinions about UB, their level of engagement now and how we can foster that engagement going forward.

Do other colleges and university host similar events and tours?

Yes, these types of alumni events, especially for new presidents, are standard and expected for a major university.

They are considered a best-practice by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the leading professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf.

Is the 2020 Tour an extravagance?

These events are a part of standard university business, and are not an extravagance. These events have been carefully planned so that the president and other UB administrators could visit regions within the U.S. that have large numbers of UB alumni. Overseas sites were selected because UB has significant alumni, friends and academic programs in those regions.

To minimize expenses and maximize impact, tour stops are scheduled to coincide with travel that occurs as part of normal university business, particularly when overseas travel is required.

Each tour event requires careful execution, dedication and persistence. These are well-planned and careful expenditures that fall within SUNY regulations. At a time when state support for higher education is declining, public universities and their presidents must meet with alumni to build a strong alumni network and encourage philanthropy as a way to improve the university for students, faculty and alumni.

Why were 2020 Tour events held overseas?

As a leader in international education, UB must not only maintain our international relationships, we must also reach out to our international alumni.  To reduce costs and maximize efficiency, international tour events were scheduled to coincide with visits that were already planned to UB’s academic partners in Asia.  These partners include the Beijing University of Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, INTI International University and Singapore Institute of Management, among others. 

The 2020 Tour’s overseas locations also were selected because UB has significant alumni in these regions:  Beijing, 500 UB alumni; Hong Kong, 200 UB alumni; Kuala Lumpur, 350 UB alumni.   Tour events were very well received by UB’s international alumni who appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with the university and network with fellow alumni. 

How exactly do alumni benefit from the 2020 Tour?

The tour is helping alumni make valuable career connections, make new friends and reconnect with former classmates.  Feedback from alumni who have attended tour events has been very positive and those alumni who are invited to an event, but who can’t attend, are also provided opportunities to learn about the university. 

In today’s tough job market, a strong alumni network is very valuable to UB graduates.  For those living outside of Western New York, these events may be the only time they meet face-to-face with the other UB alumni. Building stronger relationships with alumni is critical to the future of the university and its students. We want to keep alumni engaged in the life of the university no matter where they live or what they do so that this place that they called “home” for four years will always be a home to them.  

How do current students benefit from the 2020 Tour?

The tour is opening up new career and internship opportunities for students with alumni and their companies around the world, and their financial support helps fund student scholarships and educational facilities and labs to ensure that UB students receive a top-notch university education. UB’s alumni also help build relationships that enhance the value of a UB degree and the university’s reputational goals.

How is UB funding the 2020 Tour?

The 2020 Tour is being funded through a combination of state and UBF funds. SUNY regulations authorize the use of state funds for fundraising and business travel, and UB has followed those regulations in planning and expensing tour events.

Tour events have been scheduled to coincide with travel that occurs as part of normal university business, such as planned annual travel to higher-education meetings and annual regional alumni chapter social events, which are sponsored by the UB Alumni Association and funded, in part, by unrestricted donations to the university. Unrestricted funds are provided to UB and UBF by donors who want the university to use the money as it sees fit, in pursuit of its goals.

Is student tuition being used to fund the 2020 Tour?

No funds from either tuition or fees have been used to pay for the tour.

Are donations specifically designated by donors for scholarships or activities being used to fund the 2020 Tour?

No, gifts that are designated by donors to fund scholarships or other specific activities are restricted for use according to the donors’ wishes.  The 2020 Tour is funded, in part, by unrestricted donations to the university. Unrestricted funds are provided to UB and UBF by donors who want the university to use the money as it sees fit, in pursuit of its goals for the institution and our students.

Is it necessary for the president’s spouse and university development officers to travel to tour events?

Universities expect that the president’s spouse/partner will serve as an ‘ambassador’ for the institution. During the 2020 Tour, UB President Satish Tripathi’s spouse accompanied him and served as a host for events. It is typical for the campus to cover travel expenses for spouses/partners of the president.

Development officers regularly travel to meet with alumni and prospective donors – it’s an important part of their jobs. In cases where they attended 2020 Tour events, they met alumni and donor prospects at the events, and they also added other meetings around these events in the cities where they were held. Because of this work, alumni and friends of UB generously support the university.

What is the role of the UB Foundation (UBF) in the 2020 Tour?

The mission of UBF is to support and promote the activities and programs of UB, including alumni outreach and philanthropic activities.   UBF’s support of the 2020 Tour is very much in line with its mission. 

Most colleges and universities benefit from foundations that provide this kind of support.  It is normal and appropriate activity within higher education.

Why was state and University at Buffalo Foundation (UBF) funding used for the tour?

Alumni relations and development are core activities of a state-supported institution and therefore are supported by the university’s state operating budget.   Use of funds from UBF is very much in line with the mission of UBF to support and promote the activities and programs of UB, including alumni outreach and philanthropic activities.  

It’s important to note:  Student tuition funds were not used to pay for the tour.  UBF funds specifically designated for scholarships or educational programs or other particular activities were not used for the 2020 Tour.  The events are funded [in part] by unrestricted donations to UB.  Unrestricted funds are provided to UB and UBF by donors who want the university to use the money as it best sees fit, in pursuit of its goals. 

At a time when tuition is being increased and academic budgets are being cut, should UB be spending resources on activities such as the 2020 Tour?

The university absolutely needs to be engaged in this type of activity. These events are a normal and expected part of alumni relations and fundraising at colleges and universities worldwide.   At a time of diminishing state support for public higher education, the 2020 Tour is building relationships and increasing philanthropic support that will benefit the university, our students and alumni now and for years to come.