BUFFALO, N.Y. — Academic Software Plus, a University at
Buffalo spinoff company, has graduated from the UB Technology
Incubator after a stay of more than 10 years in which the firm grew
from a feisty startup into a mature business with a stable client
The company moved into new offices at 200 John James Audubon
Parkway in Amherst, N.Y., about two miles from the incubator, on
Coinciding with the move, the firm is taking the name of its
parent company, Liaison International, the Massachusetts-based
admissions and accreditation software and solutions company that
acquired Academic Software Plus as a subsidiary in 2001. Last year,
Warburg Pincus, a well-respected private equity investor, acquired
Liaison International and has supported its investment in products
and services for the higher education market.
Today, Liaison International’s Amherst office provides
software and support services that help universities manage
admissions information for applicants to many health professions
and other graduate programs, and evaluate students’
performance in clinical courses.
At full capacity, the Amherst office employs about 30 people,
including software developers — many more than founder John
Eisner ever expected when he conceived of Academic Software
Plus’ first software in the 1990s as a solution for
streamlining dental school admissions at UB.
More than 3,000 admissions officers nationwide use the
company’s WebAdMIT and AdMIT software, and hundreds of
university programs use the ClinicEval and SiteManager
Amy Chan, vice president of administration and special projects
for Liaison International, said the company decided to maintain
offices in Western New York to avoid uprooting the high-caliber
employees the region has been able to provide.
“The majority of our staff in the Buffalo office is from
Buffalo. All their families are here, and they love it here,”
she said. “Western New York also has a growing talent pool of
young developers coming out of UB and surrounding colleges, and we
are interested taking advantage of that resource.”
Academic Software Plus began with simple ambitions.
In 1993, the UB School of Dental Medicine dean asked associate
dean John Eisner, DDS, PhD, if he could develop a software program
that would computerize the admissions process, making it easier for
staff to organize and search through data from hundreds of
Eisner, then associate dean for information resources, knew
other schools were facing similar challenges, so he designed what
he called an ‘industrial strength’ program that
colleagues across the country could also use. Business partner
Michael Russo wrote the program.
Eisner wasn’t expecting to sell many copies, but the
program turned out to be extremely popular. He had discovered a
great niche for a business, and founded the company in 1995.
Soon, most of UB’s health professions schools were using
the software, and the firm was asked to develop GrAdMIT, a
web-based graduate admissions management product for the UB
Graduate School that is still in use today.
In 2001, the same year that it was acquired by Liaison
International, Academic Software Plus moved into the UB Technology
Incubator on Sweet Home Road.
There, with Russo as director of software development, Eisner
began building a sales, support and development team.
After years in academia, Eisner needed to learn to navigate the
business world, and incubator staff were there to help. They
provided guidance on issues like accounting and marketing, and
hosted frequent seminars in which experts spoke to incubator
tenants about human resources, marketing, legislation and other
topics of interest to entrepreneurs.
“The incubator was always very helpful from the very
beginning,” said Eisner, now a professor emeritus at UB and a
consultant to Liaison International. “We didn’t know
very much about business. We didn’t have a secretary, we
didn’t have a copier, conference room or coffee machine, and
here comes the incubator, where all of those things just seemed to
materialize magically. The incubator gives you a support system
that allows you to move your ideas forward.
“Academics have many good ideas, but are often reticent
about giving them a try in the business world,” Eisner said.
“But I would certainly encourage it. Not everybody’s
cut out for it, but you have to try to find out. I discovered that
I really had a knack for it — and enjoyed it
In 2010, the team’s CoursEval software, which continues to
be a market leader among campus-wide course assessment products,
was sold to another company.
The UB Technology Incubator, administered by the UB Office of
Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), has
assisted over 100 tenants since its inception in 1988.
Woody Maggard, the UB associate vice provost who oversees the
incubator, said it was a joy to watch Eisner and his company
evolve, following the trajectory from entrepreneur and startup to
experienced businessman and incubator graduate.
“John Eisner grew his company steadily and wisely
utilizing all of the benefits afforded by the incubator,”
Maggard said. “We worked hand-in-hand with Academic Software
Plus throughout their growth, meeting their need for more space and
services as they expanded. We are proud to see them move on to the