With its nationally renowned research and scholarship, and the best and most ambitious students, UB is on its way to a spot among the top 25 public research universities in the country.
Published October 4, 2019
A spot among the top 25 public research universities is a bold ambition, but an achievable one, President Satish K. Tripathi told members of the UB community on Friday.
“I believe we can cross a new threshold,” Tripathi said during his eighth State of the University Address, citing multiple benchmarks, among them UB’s nationally renowned research and scholarship; academic departments that are among the nation’s best; an interdisciplinary culture focused on solving pressing problems; and innovation in undergraduate, graduate and professional education, while attracting the best, most ambitious students.
“I believe in the next decade, we can situate the University at Buffalo in the top 25 public research universities in the nation.”
Speaking on Friday to a capacity crowd in the Student Union Theater on the North Campus, Tripathi reflected on the university’s tremendous accomplishments under the UB 2020 strategic plan. “When we began this chapter in our university’s history, UB was a very good institution — an institution with a rich history and great potential — but we had the potential to be much better.
“Clearly, we articulated a bold vision,” he said, “setting our plan in motion and — as a result — we have accomplished much.
“But, as I have said before—great universities never stand still.”
UB determined that we wanted to become one of our nation’s premier public research universities, Tripathi said.
“Today, we are. Clearly, our guiding principles steered us well. So, as we look to the future, we will stay the course.
“We know we are on the right course,” he said. “We know it by our research and scholarship. We know it by our student outcomes. And we see it reflected in our institutional ranking.”
But if past is prologue, “we also know we can make an even greater impact across our local and global communities,” Tripathi said. “Indeed, I believe that the University at Buffalo can rise even further in the ranks of the Association of American Universities.”
To be sure, a top 25 ambition is a bold ambition, he said. “But it is an achievable one.”
UB is not driven by pride or glory, he stated, but rather, to make a profound impact on students and the many communities served by the university.
“From an external vantage point, UB has been rising in the ranks of the best public research universities over the past eight years,” said Tripathi. “By two external measures, UB is now ranked 31st in this category.
“When we excel across our academic priorities, and when we push the disciplinary boundaries in our scholarship, our research and our creative work, our national reputation grows stronger.”
Tripathi told the audience the creative work of the university’s faculty and students inspires others and UB discoveries improve lives. He noted that UB is known — nationally and globally — for excellence across all of the university’s enterprises.
“Already, we have begun to position ourselves in this regard,” he said. “With the leadership of our deans, we are focused on enhancing innovation and excellence across our PhD programs. With the leadership of our faculty, our goal is to improve scholarship, teaching and career outcomes for our current and future PhD students.”
From UB’s trajectory to date, it’s clear that the top 25 ambition is the next natural phase of the university’s evolution, he said. And UB’s next evolutionary phase will involve honing the articulation of the university’s goals:
“To earn our place in the nation’s top 25 public research universities, we will continue to follow the guiding principles of UB 2020,” Tripathi said. “UB 2020 reveals what we can accomplish when we are thoughtful and strategic in planning our university’s brightest future. Because our successes provides a template for our next steps as a university,” he told the audience.
“With the year 2020 fast approaching, something I said during last year’s address bears repeating,” Tripathi said.
“UB 2020 was not about a date on the calendar. It was never about a fixed point in time. It was about keeping our sights set on our goals. It was about maintaining a broad field of vision — starting with our university and extending to our communities at home, around the nation and around the world.”
To advance UB’s prominence among the world’s best research universities and strengthen the impact of the university’s mission, Tripathi said the university focused on academic and research excellence.
“We designed an innovative, student-centered general education program known as the UB Curriculum; we enhanced our Honors College; we expanded opportunities for global education, internships, entrepreneurial and clinical opportunities; and we launched ‘Finish in 4’ to provide students the resources they need to graduate on time.”
In the graduate domain, the university’s efforts included creating new doctoral and dual-degree programs, establishing new interdisciplinary departments and developing an interprofessional education curriculum in the health sciences with the support of UB’s health care partners.
“In the realm of our campus physical environment,” Tripathi said, “We set out to modernize UB’s living-learning spaces for our students and provide our faculty and staff the state-of-the-art facilities that would allow them to excel in their fields and disciplines.
“By its nature, our campus master plan has been the most visible manifestation of UB 2020 — particularly to members of our UB family who have been away from campus for some time,” he noted, citing the many new educational and research facilities constructed on UB’s three campuses.
“Together, we have achieved a great deal. I would contend that we have exceeded our own high expectations,” he said.
In the early days of UB 2020, UB’s four-year graduation rate stood at 35%; today, it is at 60% —nearly double the national average. Moreover, the graduation rate for Finish in Four participants is even higher at 63%, Tripathi told the audience.
He noted that just last year UB received 31,000 applications for freshman admission — more than at any point in the university’s history. Since 2013, applications to UB have risen nearly 40%, he added.
“We are also experiencing an increase in our selectivity, and an increase in the number of underrepresented minority students in our classes,” Tripathi said.
He noted that students they are receiving some of the most prestigious awards and honors, among them Fulbright Awards, NSF and NIH research fellowships, and Marshall, Udall, Truman and Goldwater Scholarships.
UB also received several large center awards, including a $15 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH, three extensions of the landmark Women’s Health Initiative totaling nearly $16 million and a $25 million Science and Technology Award from the NSF — which was renewed last year with a $22.5 million grant.
“Today — some two years from UB’s 175th anniversary — we are poised to tap UB’s limitless potential yet again,” said Tripathi.
“As always, we keep our sights clearly set on our mission-based priority: our imperative to harness our intellectual and creative capacities to positively change the world.
“And so today, we begin a new chapter in the evolving story of the University at Buffalo. An exciting chapter. A chapter filled with promise and potential,” he said.
“As our success hinges on all of you, I look forward to pursuing our top 25 ambition with all of you — united in our commitment to enhance our excellence, innovation and engagement.
“I believe there is nothing we cannot achieve for UB, and for our world.”