Campus News

UB Council honors UB community members for a job well done

UB Council, women's basketball team, Melissa Kathan and Connie Holoman.

Posing for a photo after the UB Council meeting are members of the council, outgoing student rep Melissa Kathan, longtime council secretary Connie Holoman and members of the women's basketball team. Photo: Douglas Levere

By SUE WUETCHER

Published June 7, 2016

The UB Council’s final meeting of the 2015-16 academic year began — and ended — with the body recognizing some special members of the UB community.

Council members yesterday unanimously approved resolutions honoring the achievements of the UB women’s basketball team, the council’s outgoing student representative and its longtime secretary.

In introducing the resolution honoring the women’s basketball team, council chair Jeremy M. Jacobs noted it was becoming “old hat” to recognize MAC champions at council meetings — the body had similarly recognized the UB men’s team earlier in the spring.

Coach Felisha Legette-Jack and players Ayoleka Sodade, Cassie Oursler and Gabi Bade.

Coach Felisha Legette-Jack and players (from left) Ayoleka Sodade, Cassie Oursler and Gabi Bade admire the framed resolution from the UB Council. Photo: Douglas Levere

Members of the women’s team are excelling in the classroom as well as on the court, Jacobs said, earning a combined team GPA of 3.25 this past spring semester — the eighth straight semester of team averages above 3.0.

He also applauded head coach Felisha Legette-Jack for her 200th career victory and for leading the UB women to their first MAC championship and appearance in the NCAA tournament.

The council’s outgoing student representative, Melissa Kathan, “has impressed us this year with her dedication to the students at UB and across the SUNY system,” Jacobs said. “We appreciate her efforts to advocate on behalf of the students, especially in support of the extension of NYSUNY 2020.”

Kathan, who graduated with honors from UB last month with a degree in political science and management, will attend the UB School of Law in the fall. She is actively involved with SUNY’s Student Assembly — the student government body that represents the nearly 500,000 students across all 64 SUNY campuses — most recently serving as SUNYSA vice president.

Connie Holoman, deputy to the president who serves as secretary to the council, also was attending her last council meeting. “Connie ran so much of my life as council chairman — she did a good job of making me look good,” Jacobs said. “A lot of us have worked with Connie for a long time and we are going to miss her.”

Holoman, who joined the UB staff in 1990 and the Office of the President in 1993, serves as secretary to the council with regard to meetings and as primary liaison to members on other matters. She is moving to Shreveport, Louisiana, with her husband, Christopher Holoman, a top administrator at Hilbert College who will assume the presidency of Centenary College of Louisiana in July.

Following the meeting, council members shared cake with Holoman and met Legette-Jack and some members of the Bulls’ championship team.

Yesterday’s meeting also marked Scott Friedman’s first as a member of the UB Council. Friedman, chairman and CEO of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, was appointed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to fill a vacancy on the council. His term expires July 1, 2022.

In other business, President Satish K. Tripathi and Provost Charles F. Zukoski updated the council on recent progress made across the university, as well as UB’s advocacy efforts. Among the highlights:

  • Campus inclusion. Tripathi said a major theme of his commencement remarks this year was the importance of renewing and engaging in a diverse range of viewpoints. He noted that during the past year universities across the nation have been the site of intense debate about what it means to create and sustain a generally inclusive campus environment.

UB has been leading some of these discussions, he said, working on how to negotiate the boundaries of freedom of expression within an inclusive, welcoming academic community. “These are difficult, but definitely necessary conversations,” he said.

UB has taken these “difficult conversations and evolved them into opportunities for constructive and sustained dialogue,” Tripathi said. Among these opportunities are the convening of a student of color advisory committee to the university police department, conducting federal competency training in the academic units, and conducting various workshops and “campus dialogues” across university.

  • Student achievement. UB had its first Truman scholar ever in Madelaine Britt and the second Marshall scholar in three years in Sean Kaczmarek. UB students also received eight National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships — an all-time UB high and more than the rest of SUNY combined.
  • Faculty achievement. Tripathi said UB faculty members are making major research and clinical breakthroughs in areas ranging from cancer, heart disease and brain research to climate change and environmental policy. Six UB faculty members recently were appointed SUNY Distinguished Professors, the highest rank in the SUNY system, from among the 29 named across the system. And five School of Engineering and Applied Sciences faculty members received prestigious NSF CAREER awards.
  • Advocacy efforts. Tripathi said he was disappointed NYSUNY 2020 was not included in the final state budget. The program has played a significant role, he said, “in keeping tuition affordable and predictable,” and allowed UB to launch the Finish in 4 program, hire 91 new faculty members in high-demand areas, expand experiential learning opportunities for students and provide more than $35 million in need-based financial aid to nearly 29,000 students. UB continues to work with the Western New York legislative delegation to revisit NYSUNY 2020 next year, Tripathi said.
  • Student experience. UB continues to work to provide a better experience for students on both the North and South campuses, Tripathi said, pointing to the current renovation of Silverman Library, as well as small projects associated with the Heart of the Campus project.
  • Finish in 4. Zukoski said the first cohort has come through the program, with 63 percent of the nearly 1,500 students who started the program finishing in four years. “That’s 10 percentage points higher than those that did not go through the Finish in 4 program,” he said. “So, clearly, the Finish in 4 program acts as a motivator for students and keeps them in the program and gets them out the door in four years.”
  • New decanal leadership. After national searches, Joseph Zambon, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Periodontics and Endodontics, was named dean of the School of Dental Medicine and Paul Tesluk, the Donald S. Carmichael Professor of Organizational Behavior in the School of Management, was appointed dean of the management school. Zukoski said the search for a dean for the College of Art and Sciences is expected to conclude within the next few weeks.