Published May 8, 2014
Commencement season is officially upon us! Last Friday, I had the great honor of conferring medical degrees at the first ceremony of the year, as 128 new doctors graduated from the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Throughout the coming weeks, I look forward to celebrating with students, families, faculty, and staff across the university as the commencement season continues. This year, approximately 5,500 UB students—undergraduate, graduate, and professional—will receive degrees throughout the month of May.
The students graduating this spring have witnessed tremendous changes on a global level during the course of their studies at UB. The world is evolving rapidly, and the fields they have been preparing to enter are changing along with it. The jobs our graduates find themselves in five years from now may not even exist yet.
But wherever their next steps will lead them, I have every confidence that our graduates are uniquely well prepared for this uncertain future.
That is because the distinctive educational experience we provide our students—in the classroom, lab, and library, and out in the field and overseas—has prepared them to lead, collaborate, and innovate in a world none of us has seen yet. They haven’t just learned about the latest discoveries and newest theories in textbooks; they have had a seat at the bench as these discoveries are made and a voice in the debate about critical public policy issues shaping our world. They have worked directly alongside our faculty—some of the world’s leading experts in their fields—in the creation and sharing of new knowledge that is already transforming their fields and daily life around us. They’ve embraced clinical, research, and extracurricular experiences that bring classroom learning to life. And they’ve actively explored opportunities to gain global experiences—here in Buffalo and abroad.
As a result, what our students are already doing with these UB experiences is astonishing. Last month, at our 10th annual Celebration of Student Academic Excellence, I had the pleasure of talking with many of the undergraduate and graduate students presenting their original—and highly impactful—research at over 200 poster sessions just prior to the ceremony. As I always am when I talk to our students about what they’re working on at the moment, I came away from that event amazed and invigorated by the tremendous energy, enthusiasm, and expertise that shine through in these conversations. Our students aren’t just preparing to make their mark on their fields one day—they are breaking new ground right now—from improving urban traffic patterns to theorizing new approaches to diagnosing multiple sclerosis and reimagining the role of the arts in civic life.
And increasingly, their work is gaining international recognition for its exceptional caliber and significance. As just a few examples of recent student achievements over the past semester, two UB sophomores majoring in physics won highly competitive Goldwater Scholarships, while a doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry won a prestigious fellowship to study science policy in Washington, DC, and two projects by University at Buffalo architects have landed prizes through the Architizer A+ Awards program, a competitive annual contest that draws entries from around the world. Other students honored at a national and international level this semester include the recipient of a Woodrow Wilson teaching fellowship, the winner of a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Indonesia, and the winner of a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship. Our students and recent graduates are breaking ground beyond the academic world as well, including the history-making achievements of standout athlete Khalil Mack.
As any of our students can tell you, realizing achievements of this magnitude is a long, complex, sometimes frustrating, yet immensely rewarding process.
But it is not a solitary process. The effort involved in producing the impressive achievements we celebrate this commencement season requires a great deal of support, collaboration, and input—from fellow scholars and artists, from the faculty and staff mentors who have guided them along the way, and from the entire university community.
This commencement season, we celebrate the incredible achievements and promise of our graduating students and those who will follow in their footsteps. And we celebrate the intellectual community that helps to nurture, inspire, and challenge their intellectual and creative process.
My heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to all of our graduating students, and my warmest thanks to all of the faculty, staff, and students who contribute to our rich and vibrant campus culture at UB.
With best regards,