Published January 17, 2012
Happy New Year, and welcome back to campus! As the spring semester begins, I wanted to take a moment to share some of my thoughts about how far we have come together over the past year, and about the promising opportunities that lie ahead for our academic community.
Building momentum: Recent UB progress
This is truly an exciting time for UB. Our university has made a number of major strides in the past year, and we are building great momentum for the future.
Over this past year, a number of important developments have helped to bolster our progress. We’ve seen the passage of historic state legislation, the NYSUNY 2020 bill, enabling us to bring even more top faculty and students from around the world to UB. We have secured major state funding through a related challenge grant established by Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Zimpher. This grant will help UB move forward with two key steps in the next phase of UB 2020: building faculty strength across the academic disciplines, and relocating the medical school downtown, where it will be more closely aligned with Buffalo hospitals and research partners.
As we continue to make progress toward realizing our long-range vision of academic excellence, we also are strengthening its impact and expanding its reach in the larger communities we serve, locally as well as globally. Earlier this month, for example, we announced the reorganization of our research office into the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development—a realignment that will better advance our faculty’s research and connect it more effectively to regional economic development.
Along with the new faculty, students, and staff joining our ranks, this semester, we also welcome two key new members of our university’s senior leadership team: Laura Hubbard, Vice President for Finance and Administration, and Nancy Wells, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations.
A new outlook: planning for the long term
Collectively, these steps forward allow us to make considerable progress toward realizing our vision of academic excellence. They will enable UB to enhance educational and research excellence across the disciplines—an outcome of vital importance to our students and to our university as a whole. And they will help us improve the quality of life for communities here in Western New York and around the world.
Together, the NYSUNY 2020 legislation and the approval of our related challenge grant application allow UB—for the first time—to plan and budget on a five-year horizon. This new stability is potentially game-changing for UB, provided we have the foresight and vision to make the most of this opportunity.
My own priorities in this regard focus on investing in the people who advance our academic vision—our faculty, staff, and students—and on fostering the campus environment that will support them in their work. Among my immediate goals, I am seeking to build our endowment funds in support of student scholarships and to significantly increase our faculty ranks over the next five years, with special emphasis on new endowed faculty positions to help attract even more internationally distinguished scholars to our ranks.
On the horizon:
We are already making significant progress toward our long-term goals. This spring, you can expect a number of important developments in pursuit of our ambitious vision of excellence.
As we move forward with the next phase of UB 2020, we will take the first steps in moving our medical school downtown. Early design planning is beginning this spring, with construction scheduled to begin in 2013. UB’s downtown campus will further be enhanced by the opening of the Clinical and Translational Research Center scheduled for late spring. SUNY Distinguished Professor Timothy Murphy was recently appointed the director of the CTRC, which is already actively collaborating with area health sciences partners.
To enrich the academic environment for our students and researchers, UB is making significant investments in classroom, laboratory, library, and studio spaces across all three campuses. A state-of-the-art new home for our School of Engineering and Applied Sciences—Barbara and Jack Davis Hall—will open on the North Campus in April, and a world-class building for our School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences—John and Editha Kapoor Hall—is scheduled to open on the South Campus this fall. We also are making major capital improvements to continue restoring our historic South Campus and its iconic buildings to the original design planned by E.B. Green.
Our people—our distinguished faculty, talented students, and dedicated staff—are the heart of our academic community, and we have much to look forward to in this regard as well. This spring, as we recruit another extraordinary student class for the fall semester, we also are working to bring even more of the world’s best and brightest faculty to UB. Finally, to guide our academic enterprise as a whole, we also expect to announce a new Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs this semester. Our international search for this key position is expected to conclude by mid-spring, with a new provost officially taking office in time for the beginning of the Fall 2012 semester.
Indeed, 2011 has been a year to remember, and 2012 promises to bring even greater progress for our UB community as we continue to pursue an ambitious vision of excellence. I look forward to seeing you around campus this semester—in the meantime, best wishes for a productive and rewarding semester.