Simpson Reports on UB's Progress and Momentum in Community Address

Announces plan to build new home for Educational Opportunity Center in downtown Buffalo

By Arthur Page

Release Date: October 16, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With a record fall enrollment of 28,054 that includes its brightest freshman class in history and a net gain of nearly 100 new faculty members over the past three years, the University at Buffalo is building momentum as it implements plans to rise to the ranks of the nation's top public research universities, UB President John B. Simpson declared today in his second annual community address.

Noting that the university's plan for 40 percent growth by the year 2020 envisions 10,000 more students and more than 2,300 additional faculty and staff, Simpson said: "No other entity in Buffalo Niagara has the capability to grow its workforce and customer base on this scale, increasing its impact on the region's economy by more than $1 billion a year.

"A larger and stronger UB," Simpson added, "also will enhance the region's quality of life by offering more educational, cultural and recreational resources and programming to the public, and by having an even greater presence in the community."

In his address, titled "UB Believers: Making Progress, Building Momentum," Simpson told an audience of 400 in Kleinhans Music Hall that a bigger, better UB will help elevate the City of Buffalo, as well as all of Buffalo Niagara.

"Today, I think the ties that bind us together are stronger than they've ever been," Simpson added. "And I think we are at a point in time where, working together, UB and the community can seize this moment of opportunity, and have a transformative effect on our region -- for us, for our children and their children."

Simpson announced that as part of its continuing major investment in downtown Buffalo, UB will build a new, expanded home for its Educational Opportunity Center at Goodell and Oak streets. It will be constructed adjacent to the former M. Wile building -- now Century Centre 2 -- at Goodell and Ellicott streets, which UB is purchasing and where it will relocate several programs involving community outreach, including its Regional Institute.

The EOC provides educational job training, college preparation and related support services to economically disenfranchised and academically disadvantaged populations in Western New York. Currently located at 465 Washington St., the EOC provides services to 2,500 individuals annually. An expanded facility will allow it to serve even more members of the community.

UB, through the efforts of the Western New York delegation, and in particular Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples, received a state allocation of $26 million to build a new EOC.

Among those reacting to the announcement were Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

"The University at Buffalo clearly is dedicated to taking a leadership role in the resurgence of the City of Buffalo," Spitzer noted. "John Simpson's ambitious vision rightfully ties the future of New York's second largest city to that of SUNY's largest, and one of its most distinguished, campuses."

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown hailed it as "great news for the City of Buffalo that less than a month after UB announced it was purchasing the former M. Wile building, President Simpson has announced plans to invest $26 million in construction on an adjacent block for its Educational Opportunity Center 's new home. President Simpson continues to demonstrate UB's strong commitment to investing in Buffalo and why our community should rally in support of plans to grow and strengthen the university."

Peoples added: "EOC will have a more prominent presence reflecting the impact it has had and will continue to have in the lives of those it serves. Thousands of individuals have received GEDs, entered college and secured employment through the EOC. In its new, expanded home, it will be able to serve even more members of our community."

Simpson was introduced by Jeremy M. Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Delaware North Companies and chair of the UB Council.

"In four short years, the vision for the future of the University at Buffalo has expanded significantly and is much brighter under the leadership of John Simpson," Jacobs noted. "The UB 2020 strategic planning process that he implemented has UB on the road to becoming a model 21st-century university with an increased impact on the economy of Buffalo Niagara and the quality of life of its residents."

Highlighting accomplishments that have occurred during the past year, Simpson said in his address that the university is on the way to fully implementing its UB 2020 strategic plan, investing in excellence in programs across the board, as well as strategic strengths that place it at an advantage over competing institutions when it comes to winning research funding. By adhering to UB 2020 and a master plan being developed to guide changes and growth on its Amherst, Main Street and downtown Buffalo campus centers, he said UB plans to grow by 40 percent between now and the year 2020.

"When we look at some of our peers like the University of Pittsburgh, UCLA or the University of Washington, we see what a really strong magnet can do for a region's vitality and quality of life," Simpson said. "One of the goals of UB 2020, and especially our growth plan, is to turn up the power of our magnet so that we will attract more vitality and innovation to our area."

To realize its aspirations, UB will require significant state funding, as well as changes in state policies including those that would allow tuition among SUNY colleges and universities to differentiate depending on their mission. It also will take widespread community support to help UB realize the increased funding and policy changes.

Among the good news, Simpson reported, is the fact that community support for UB and its aspirations to become a model 21st-century public research university is building, as evidenced by the fact that in the two months since the launch of the UB Believers advocacy group, more than 3,000 individuals have joined as members.

"We have been amazed at the number of people who have stepped forward to help advance our mission for growth because they understand the benefits that holds for our region," he added. "UB Believers will allow people like you a place to express your views and ideas for how our university can make our local economy stronger, how it can create a future that includes more opportunities for our young people and a better quality of life for all."

UB accomplishments that occurred during the past year highlighted by Simpson in his address included:

Investing in Downtown: UB is purchasing the former M. Wile building, now Century Centre 2, to be the new home for community outreach programs, including UB Regional Institute; moving development operations and 50 employees to Jacobs Executive Development Center, freeing up Wende Hall on South Campus for an expanded School of Nursing better positioned to meet community needs; and opening the Ira G. Ross Eye Institute at 1176 Main St. as the new home to the patient-care programs of the Department of Ophthalmology in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Strategic Assistance to Local Economy: UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences helped attract to Buffalo Niagara three life-sciences companies. Companies that are in or have graduated from the UB Technology Incubator contribute more than $50 million annually to the local economy.

Impacting Region's Quality of Life: UB's Center for the Arts hosted more than 325 events last year; its community outreach included in-school arts education programs for thousands of children. More than 200,000 people attended UB athletics events last year; 2,000 youths participated in UB athletics camps.

Buffalo Public Schools Partnership: Mara Huber, previously director of special projects in the UB Graduate School of Education, has been hired as special assistant to the president for educational initiatives and director of the partnership. Initiatives to date include Advanced Placement Summer Institutes for teachers and students and a new program in which mentoring and tutoring will be provided for students by UB faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Improving Health Care: UB has assumed a significant leadership role on the board overseeing the merger of Kaleida Health System and the Erie County Medical Center. With a $3 million commitment from alumnus Ralph Behling, M.D. '43, it is creating the Academic Health Center Simulation Center to provide state-of-the-art training for the community's next generation of health-care providers.

Community Relations: The Office of Community Relations is building vital partnerships with area residents, business owners and government leaders. UB expanded the Home Loan Guaranty Program to encourage UB employees to purchase homes in, and help stabilize, South Campus neighborhoods and launched the free, family-friendly UB on the Green summer concert series.

Investing in Academic Excellence: UB launched a four-year Honors College for exceptional undergraduates, marking a major milestone in UB's long tradition of providing undergraduate honors programming, as well as new undergraduate "learning academies" in the areas of civic engagement and fundamental research.

Master Planning: The university launched its comprehensive planning effort to grow and dramatically transform its three campus centers by awarding a master planning contract to a team of internationally renowned architectural, planning, landscape and design firms. To date, more than 80 sessions have been held with community groups to discuss plans and seek input.

Campus Improvements: Projects in process include a $70 million renovation of Acheson Hall on the South Campus for a new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, a new $77 million building on the North Campus for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and improved and expanded child care facilities on the North and South campuses.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.