Published September 19, 2013
Hometown pride and Model T Fords were on display at a record-breaking alumni event last week that drew nearly 800 Bulls from around Western New York to the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum in downtown Buffalo.
The gathering, part alumni party and part pep rally, was planned to build excitement for the coming season of academics, sports, and arts and entertainment at UB. It was the largest local alumni event in recent memory and the second event hosted in Buffalo by the UB Alumni Association.
Last year’s event was part of President Satish K. Tripathi’s UB 2020 alumni tour to 20 cities in 20 months. Held in Buffalo’s Hotel Lafayette, it had 600 attendees and was so successful the association decided to throw a local party again this year.
There is no official UB alumni chapter for Western New York,
although officials said that might change.
“Our university has been experiencing an incredible number of successes over the past year or so—with no end in sight—and we want to share the excitement with our alumni and thank them for believing in their alma mater,” said Jay Friedman, EdM ’00 & BA ’86, associate vice president for alumni relations.
The sun was setting on a gorgeous September day as crowds entered the museum’s cavernous atrium entrance. The atrium protects the newly completed Frank Lloyd Wright Filling Station, based on Wright’s 1927 gas station design that was earmarked for a nearby spot on Michigan Street but never built.
Alumni mingled with classmates and UB faculty, staff and students, snacked on hors d’oeuvres and ogled the museum’s vintage sedans and the filling station’s gleaming copper roof.
Special guests included Tripathi; Alumni Association President Carol Gloff, BS ’75; Athletics Director Danny White; head football coach Jeff Quinn; baseball coach Ron Torgalski and women’s basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack.
Jim Sandoro Jr., BS ’71, alumnus and founder of the Pierce-Arrow Museum, welcomed UB to his playground.
Sandoro said the museum represents his legacy and is a manifestation of his lifelong passion for cool cars. Starting with an old Model T Ford, which took him 10 years to restore, he painstakingly built his automobile collection over 40 years with his wife, Mary Ann. Since they don’t have children, they plan to donate the facility to the city.
“This museum is a Buffalo thing,” Sandoro said, adding that the event was the “largest we’ve ever had here,” and that UB alumni were the first group to see the completed filling station. “Imagine that drawing sitting in a drawer somewhere… it’s the first Frank Lloyd Wright building that doesn’t leak,” he joked.
Tripathi thanked Sandoro and the audience for their support of UB, saying “This is a fabulous place for a UBAA meeting.” He echoed the enthusiasm that began with President Obama’s visit to the North Campus, as UB prepared to welcome the largest and most talented freshman class in university history.
“We can’t be a great university without a great city,” he added, noting that momentum would continue with the Oct. 8 groundbreaking of the new UB medical school on the Downtown Campus. “It’s an exciting time to be at UB.”
White then described the Division of Athletics’ plans to re-vamp the program in order to attract spectators statewide to its Division I football and basketball games, and to recruit top athletes in all sports. To do that, he said, UB would need public support to build a new athletic training facility on the North Campus.
After plugging UB football’s home opener against Stony Brook on Sept. 14, White introduced several student-athletes, including members of the Bulls football squad, who crossed the floor to shake hands with attendees as mascot Victor E. Bull bounced along, fists held high.
Alumni also were pumped. “I was interested in the sheer number of people coming to this,” said Theresa Kazmierczak, BA ’86. “Hearing there were 1,200 RSVPs really blew my mind. This is a great event. I hope they do it again.”
Law student Erin Decker agreed. She attended because it sounded like a fun way to meet people at her third alma mater. “I went to Binghamton and then Cornell, and what drew me to Buffalo was the combination of the UB Law School and the exciting things happening in the city right now,” she said.
“We’re only a stone’s throw away from the burgeoning medical campus and the site of our new medical school,” Friedman added. “The downtown renaissance is happening and we’re honored that we, and our alumni, are part of it.”
Celebrating BUFFALO? Isn't that inconsistent, considering the new field logos and uniforms that say "State University of ***NEW YORK*** (buffalo)"?
Angelo F. Coniglio