Let me start by giving you my 20-second definition of UB 2020.
UB 2020 is our university’s vision of excellence, focused on realizing our full promise as one of the nation’s great research universities. It’s about bringing together the best and brightest faculty across the disciplines to take on some of the most pressing global challenges of the 21st century—whether it’s improving access to education, addressing human rights issues, responding to climate change or seeking cures for HIV and cancer. And it’s about preparing you and all of our students to be the next generation of global leaders in your fields, your professions and your communities.
You’ll sometimes hear people talk about “2020” as a deadline for achieving these ambitions. But “2020” is also a reference to keen vision. It’s about setting our sights on the future … being able to see clearly where we want to go and the paths that will best take us there.
Whether the year is 2016 or 2060, we always need to be focused on where we want to be in five, ten, 50 years and beyond. And we have to be ready to keep taking our vision to the next level as we evolve to meet new challenges and opportunities.
That’s what we’ve been doing, and continue to do, as we realize our UB 2020 ambitions. And right now, we are actively moving UB’s vision forward in a number of exciting directions.
Let me give you a few examples that you’ll see firsthand in the next few years. You probably already know we are revitalizing the general education curriculum to create a transformational liberal arts experience for our students—an experience I think is unique in the context of a major research university environment. This new curriculum, launching next fall, will connect what you learn in the classroom directly with real-world experience, including internships, clinical and service learning, and study abroad opportunities.
We’re developing graduate and professional programs, like our expanded inter-professional education across the five health science schools, and we’re launching new programs like the Creative Arts Initiative that bring more renowned visiting artists to UB. We’re creating cutting-edge departments too, like the Department of Materials Design and Innovation, housed jointly in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Across the university, we are pushing the boundaries of interdisciplinary research as we launch the Communities of Excellence initiative, which brings together faculty, students and staff to tackle urgent global challenges, like how to design more sustainable building materials for the future, and how to ensure better and more equitable access to health care, food and clean drinking water.
We also are greatly expanding our reach in our broader communities, from our role in Buffalo’s renaissance to our 80-plus partnerships with distinguished higher education partners overseas. Our students have incredible opportunities to extend UB’s engagement, both locally and globally.
As part of the Class of 2019, Bailey, you’re in a great position to reap the benefits of these transformations. This is an exciting time to be at UB, and you’ll be in the thick of much of the progress that will shape our university’s future—in the year 2020 and beyond!
A freshman from Liverpool, N.Y., Bailey Radel is majoring in math and economics, with her sights set on teaching high school. She is passionate about “getting people to like math again.” The oldest of eight children, she already has experience helping her five sisters and two brothers with homework around the family’s kitchen table. This semester she’s supplementing her “in-home internship” by participating in an Honors Program service-learning seminar in the Buffalo Public Schools.
Tripathi told Radel that he, too, had wanted to be a math teacher, and urged her to take statistics and computer science courses as necessary tools for her chosen field. Conversation then turned to all those siblings queued up for college. “Potentially, we might have seven more Radels coming here?” the president asked with a smile. This could happen if her Buffalo-based grandmother has her way, Radel explained. “She’s been giving the kids UB sweatshirts and mugs as gifts, slowly putting the idea in their minds!”