Published August 27, 2013
Welcome back to UB! The fall semester is officially underway with the start of classes this week. And we are off to a tremendous start already.
Last Thursday, our university community had the incredible honor of hosting President Barack Obama in a historic visit at UB. Over 7,200 people joined us in Alumni Arena as President Obama unveiled his ambitious new plan for ensuring greater access to higher education.
I can’t think of a better way to kick off a new academic year. The fact that UB was selected to host this major Presidential address is a testament to our university’s stature, and to our reputation as a national model for addressing critical issues in higher education.
Last Thursday our students, faculty, staff, and community members had the remarkable opportunity to be at the epicenter of a national dialogue about issues very close to our hearts. At the core of this conversation are two fundamental objectives: ensuring that our U.S. system of higher education remains the best in the world, and ensuring equitable access to it.
Across the United States and around the world, educators, administrators, students, and policy experts are now avidly debating what the President’s address signals for the future of U.S. higher education, and what it will mean for their own campuses in the years ahead.
So what does it mean for our own university?
UB has been a leading voice in the national and global conversation about these issues for many years. As a major public research university, UB is an acknowledged leader in addressing the broader issues of access and affordability that President Obama addressed in his remarks. At UB, we strongly believe our mission is not only about making a college degree more widely available. It’s about ensuring access to an exceptional higher education experience for all students with the talent and determination to pursue it.
Achieving this mission is very much a collaborative enterprise. It requires the collective efforts and commitment of all of us working together—our students, our faculty, our staff, and our extended university community.
For our students, realizing this vision means taking full advantage of the unique opportunities available to them at UB. We attract the best and brightest students from around the world to UB. And we are committed to ensuring that these dedicated students—regardless of income—have full access to the transformational educational opportunities available at a world-class university like UB.
But it is up to our students to make the most of these opportunities. To the 5,000 new students joining us this year, and the thousands returning this fall, I urge you to continue to seek out new avenues of discovery and opportunity this year. For our undergraduate students, that may mean taking a Discovery Seminar to explore academic interests outside your major, or enrolling in one of the Academies, where you can explore timely, interdisciplinary topics in depth—both in and out of the classroom—with leading UB experts in the field. Or it may mean broadening your horizons through study abroad, an internship opportunity, or sharing your talents and knowledge to benefit our regional community.
For our faculty, ensuring educational opportunities for our students is at the heart of their work in the classroom, laboratory, and field. Of the many world-class assets UB offers our students, the opportunity to work closely with pioneering faculty is the greatest. I encourage our faculty to keep inspiring and challenging our students through your own personal example, and I hope that this semester, you will discover even more ways of engaging students in your research, scholarship, and community engagement efforts. Your leadership and mentorship are of critical importance to encouraging our students to delve deeply into vital societal issues. That endeavor is at the heart of our mission as a research-intensive university—to advance the greater public good through our knowledge, our discoveries, and our ideas.
For our staff, creating and enhancing educational opportunity is fundamental to what you do every day. From providing academic advisement to students, supporting research programs across the disciplines, and maintaining state-of-the-art facilities across our three campuses, to recruiting the next generation of outstanding UB students, our staff play a critical role in fostering an exceptional UB experience. Your dedicated efforts inspire our entire university community and make UB a great place to live, study, learn, and work. This semester, I encourage you to continue to explore new opportunities for increasing the impact of your work—whether through seeking out new professional development opportunities, volunteering your expertise in a UB employee engagement initiative, or taking advantage of a tuition-free course in a UB graduate or professional program.
Working together, we create endless possibilities for our university and the broader communities we serve. I can’t wait to see what impressive new achievements and contributions our students, faculty, and staff will make in the academic year ahead. Welcome back, and warmest wishes for a rich and rewarding fall semester!