BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo President John B. Simpson
announced today he plans to retire as UB's 14th president,
effective Jan. 15, in order return to the West Coast with his wife,
Katherine, and spend more time with family.
Simpson, 63, announced his decision at a news conference with UB
Council Chairman Jeremy M. Jacobs. Jacobs praised Simpson's strong
leadership of the university since 2004, during which time the
university launched the UB 2020 strategic plan to become a model
21st century research university through focused research, growth
and transformation of UB's three campuses. (To see video of the
news conference, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epXMawE0m-Y.)
Jacobs also announced that Scott D. Nostaja, UB's senior vice
president and chief operations officer, will serve as interim
president following Simpson's retirement. Jacobs will immediately
convene and lead a global search for UB's 15th president .
Simpson said his decision to retire was not easy, "but it is one
I have made with great satisfaction in all that this university
community has achieved together over the past several years, in
those areas we control. I retain full confidence that UB can become
the premier public research university we have been working
together to build."
He added that while his retirement plans are motivated by a
personal desire to be closer to family, he would be "less than
forthright not to note that this difficult decision has been made
somewhat easier by Albany's failure to give UB and SUNY the policy
tools and stable support needed to fully achieve this university's
"UB's promise, and its potential to transform this community,
have been threatened severely by repeated budget cuts and, most
recently, by the latest setbacks from Albany," he said.
The New York State Legislature this month failed to pass
reforms, known as the Public Higher Education Empowerment and
Innovation Act, which would have empowered UB to generate funding
it needs to move more quickly ahead with the UB 2020 plan in the
wake of $60 million in state budget cuts to the university.
Despite these obstacles and setbacks, Simpson said he remains
steadfast in his belief that "given the proper state support and
flexibility it needs to thrive, this university has all of the
necessary ingredients to achieve greatness in the 21st
Simpson's full statement about his decision to retire is
Among his accomplishments as UB president, Simpson led UB's
faculty and administration in a university-wide process of
self-assessment and strategic planning that led to the UB 2020
strategic vision. Under the UB 2020 plan, the university crafted
UB's first comprehensive physical plan in more than three decades,
initiated major building and construction projects totaling more
than $500 million on UB's three campuses, achieved substantial
university-wide efficiencies in campus operations and forged even
stronger partnerships with the community.
Under Simpson's leadership, the Western New York community has
embraced and recognized the importance of a research university as
a catalyst for economic development and for building a
knowledge-based economy that Simpson said is critical to Western
New York's future.
A native of California, Simpson was appointed UB president on
Jan. 1, 2004, bringing with him more than 30 years of experience in
higher education. Prior to his appointment, Simpson held the post
of campus provost and executive vice chancellor of the University
of California, Santa Cruz, where he served from 1998-2003.
Simpson said it has been an "honor and great pleasure" to serve
as UB's 14th president. "Katherine and I have been proud to make
our home in this community, and I personally have been grateful to
benefit from my rewarding relationships with my colleagues in the
higher education community -- locally, nationally and
Simpson said that he and Jacobs feel strongly that Nostaja is
the ideal person to guide UB as interim president during the
transition to a new UB president.
"Scott's leadership, vision and acumen have made him an
indispensable member of the university's senior leadership team
over the years, and he has been instrumental in the articulation
and implementation of the UB 2020 strategic vision," Simpson said.
"Chairman Jacobs and I feel strongly that he is the ideal
individual to guide the university in an interim capacity during
this pivotal transition period."
Nostaja has served as senior vice president and chief operations
officer at UB, reporting directly to Simpson, since May 2010. While
at UB, he has undertaken a number of key, university-wide
initiatives, among them, strategic planning, operational
management, campus physical planning and financial management.
Nostaja was named interim vice president of human resources in
2006, when he was charged with heading UB's human resources
transformation, which has helped UB to be recognized as one of The
Chronicle of Higher Education's "great colleges to work for."