Published May 3, 2013
Today marks the official beginning of the 167th commencement season at the University at Buffalo. This afternoon and evening, I will have the honor and great pleasure of conferring degrees at the medical and dental school graduation ceremonies. Over the course of the next two weeks, over 4,800 UB students—undergraduate, graduate, and professional—will receive their UB degrees at a total of 15 ceremonies, testifying to immense knowledge acquired, expertise gained, and great promise demonstrated for their future achievements and contributions to the public good.
Some of these graduates will continue their advanced education, here at UB or elsewhere. Others will remain in the academy as educators, researchers, and clinical instructors. Many are embarking on the first stages of the professions for which they have studied and prepared these many years. All will help to carry out our university’s greatest aim as a public research university—to contribute to the greater public good by sharing the benefits of our knowledge, our discoveries, and our ideas. And all will be a source of great pride to their alma mater.
Over the past several months, we have celebrated numerous examples of the tremendous impact and relevance of our students’ intellectual accomplishments. At our ninth annual Celebration of Student Academic Excellence last month, we honored a wide range of exemplary students for the extraordinary use to which they have put their knowledge and skills. These students include national and international honorees like Goldwater Scholars Christopher Dundas and Phillip Tucciarone; National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship recipients Sourobh Ghosh and Daniel Salem; Fulbright grant recipient Amanda Buonopane; and numerous other outstanding students who are nominees or finalists still under consideration for prestigious national and international honors. Last month, a group of architecture students earned a national award for their innovative design of a sustainable environment for an endangered bee colony on Buffalo’s waterfront. This summer, chemistry graduate student Abiola Olatunde has received a prestigious invitation to participate in the 63rd Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany.
The accomplishments of all these students also attest to our dedicated faculty and staff who have mentored and guided them over the years. These faculty and staff mentors have challenged them to dig deeper and reach higher in their scholarly pursuits, and have prompted them to answer—and ask—difficult questions. And they have inspired their students through their own extraordinary achievements and contributions as scholars, researchers, and educators. Earlier this year, we honored several of these mentors with the President Emeritus and Mrs. Martin Meyerson Award for Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring; this spring, the Graduate School recognized three faculty with the Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award.
During these past few months, we have celebrated many other faculty and staff achievements that serve to enrich and inspire our students. These include national and international honors such as a Guggenheim Fellowship to Professor Jerold Frakes and a Fulbright Scholar Award to Minakshi Trivedi. Earlier this semester, SUNY Distinguished Professor Lois Weis was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Education, and Jaekyung Lee, Interim Dean of the Graduate School of Education, was named a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association.
Our alumni, too, are a great source of inspiration to current and future generations of UB students who aspire to walk in their footsteps. This spring, we celebrated the scope and impact of these alumni achievements at our annual celebration of alumni excellence. And over the past several months, we have seen numerous alumni honored at a national and international level for their accomplishments, including the Distinguished Environmental Advocates Award presented by the American Bar Association to Tina Meyers, JD ’08 for her clean water advocacy, to the election of Dr. Zhou Ji, Ph.D. ’84 and MS ’81, to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.
These achievements are just a sampling of the rich array of ways that our students, faculty, staff, and alumni apply their knowledge and skill in service to the public good. Collectively, they embody the spirit of our mission as a public research university: to enrich the quality of life in the world around us through our intellectual contributions—regionally as well as globally.
Congratulations to all of our graduating students, and best wishes for your continued success as alumni! And to all of our university community members, thank you for all that you contribute to our academic community each day.