BUFFALO, N.Y. – With UB’s presence growing in
downtown Buffalo, there’s a need for enhanced two-way
communication with the surrounding neighborhoods. As a result, UB
opened a new Community Relations Office in the Downtown Gateway
building at 77 Goodell St., formerly the site of the M. Wile
The office opened in late March. Already, Community Relations
Director Linwood Roberts, who relocated downtown from his office on
South Campus, has seen plenty of residents walk in to chat about
UB’s involvement in the Fruit Belt, Cold Springs and downtown
The university’s expanded presence downtown positions UB
closer to its vital partners on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Additionally, the new School
of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building will be
constructed nearby starting this fall and is expected to be
completed by 2016.
In June, UB will open the new Educational Opportunity Center on
Ellicott Street, next door to the Gateway building.
UB is also in continued discussions to acquire from Oak-Michigan
Housing Development Corp. – the development arm of St. John
Baptist Church – the McCarley
Gardens property and has been actively engaged with the
community to keep residents apprised of developments going
With so much activity happening downtown involving UB, the new
community relations office will serve as a “front door”
to the university for residents who live there.
“We have three campuses and we felt it was important to
have a physical presence on each campus,” says Michael
Pietkiewicz, UB’s assistant vice president for government and
community relations, adding that UB’s two other community
relations offices – in Allen Hall on South Campus and Capen
Hall on North – will remain open.
“Our relationship with the surrounding communities is
important. There’s a lot of public outreach with the new
medical school and McCarley Gardens. We need to build relationships
and open lines of communication and learn how people want to
communicate with us,” Pietkiewicz says.
The work of the community relations office is supporting
recommendations made by the Economic Opportunity Panel created by
UB and St. John Baptist Church. In an April report
assessing how the sale of McCarley Gardens could benefit the
community, the panel recommended that UB continue to engage
residents of McCarley Gardens and the Fruit Belt in planning
UB’s downtown expansion, and that the university expand its
communication efforts in these communities.
The community relations office has added multiple channels to
communicate with people who live and work near the downtown campus,
including the introduction several years ago of the UB Downtown
The addition of a community relations office in the Gateway
building also coincides with UB President Satish K.
Tripathi’s belief that community engagement plays a strong
and vital role in UB 2020, the university’s strategic
Toward that end, the downtown community relations office
includes community meeting space. Eventually, the first floor will
include a “community collaboratory,” a place where
residents can stop in to view building plans and construction
models, search UB job postings and learn how UB faculty research is
addressing needs in the community.
For his part, Roberts is excited to be working in the Gateway
building and reunite with his old stomping grounds. Roberts grew up
in the Cold Springs neighborhood, and his mother still lives there.
His aunt’s family, he notes, was one of the first families to
move into McCarley Gardens.
“Community Relations’ presence downtown is important
because UB is there, it has a physical presence, and we are
positioning UB as a gateway to downtown. It’s easier to do
that when you’re physically there, in a community relations
office,” Roberts says.
He said initial feedback from the community has been great, and
that residents are pleased that UB has a community relations office
downtown. “A lot of people have stopped by already. McCarley
residents can walk right across the street. I’m getting more
face time with the community. It’s been great,” Roberts
And he points out that he has a vested interest in the success
of the neighborhoods surrounding the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus
and UB’s Downtown Campus. “To have the opportunity to
effectuate some change in the neighborhood I grew up in is
great,” he says. “It’s going to be a happening
place to be, and I’m excited about the potential down
UB’s downtown community relations office is located in the
Downtown Gateway building, 77 Goodell St., Suite 201. Appointments,
while not required, are encouraged by calling 829-3099.