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Families at the forefront of UClub 2.0

Haley Griffin, left, and Sofia Hall model Bulls basketball uniforms. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

By SUE WUETCHER

Published February 5, 2015

Claudia Hall laughed as her daughter, Sofia, 10, and Sofia’s friend, Haley Griffin, 9, donned the extra-large UB basketball uniforms —including size 14 and 12 sneakers — and struck a sassy pose.

“We thought this would be fun,” said Hall, whose husband, John, is an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

The Halls came to UB from the University of Texas — John joined the UB faculty in 2013 —and Claudia said they were hoping to learn more about UB spirit.

The Halls were among the UB faculty, staff and their families attending Wednesday’s UClub 2.0, a family-friendly edition of the traditional University Club networking event held in the Bull Pen in Alumni Arena.

Vicki Mitchell, head coach of UB's cross country and track and field teams, helps herself to the taco bar. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

UClub 2.0, sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and hosted by the Division of Athletics, featured air-brushed tattoos for the kids — and willing adults such as John Hall — a raffle, taco bar, tickets to the night’s women’s basketball game and, of course, lots of collegiality.

It was the brainchild of Teresa Miller, vice provost for equity and inclusion, and professor in the UB Law School.

Miller said she got the idea for the event after conducting a “listening tour” of campus after being appointed to the vice provost position last spring.

“I heard a lot of talk about the need for family-friendly activities, the need to make UB a more family-friendly community,” Miller said.

As part of that listening tour, Athletics Director Danny White talked about bringing more members of the university community into Alumni Arena, she said, noting that UClub 2.0 brings those two ideas together.

“We wanted to float the idea and see if it’s something that people would embrace,” Miller said.

She said her office had received 130 RSVPs for the event as of early in the week — many more than usually attend the Wednesday afternoon University Club get-togethers.

“This is a huge leap forward,” she said.

Many of those attending praised the emphasis on family.

“The family atmosphere is nice,” said Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, associate professor of anthropology. Bacigalupo said she had attended a few University Club sessions and yesterday’s event was particularly special.

“I thought it was a nice thing to be able to include our families,” said Sharon Nolan-Weiss, who brought her sons Nathan, 10, and Aaron, 7, to the event.

Yesterday’s event was the first for Sue Ott, director of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Ott said she works closely with Miller, “and I wanted to see what this was all about.”

For Thomas Burkman, former director of the Asian Studies Program who retired from UB three years ago, attending University Club events “is a great way for emeriti faculty to stay connected to the university community.”

Amie Schirching, secretary to the chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, is a University Club regular.

“You meet a lot of nice people,” Schirching said. “It’s nice to be able to see parts of the university you might not normally see.”