New students urged to explore UB
“The time for you as undergraduates is a time for you to learn, to experiment, to try out new ideas, and to grow as perhaps you’ve never grown before.”
About 3,000 new students, their parents and other family members jammed into Alumni Arena for the annual University Welcome on Aug. 27. For parents and siblings, the late afternoon event followed a busy day of helping UB freshmen move into residence halls, learn to navigate the campuses and get acclimated to both heightened academic expectations and a more independent lifestyle.
The welcoming ceremony included traditional pageantry—speakers wore academic garb and Robert G. Hoeing, associate professor of linguistics and Faculty Senate chair, opened and closed the event while bearing the university mace. At the same time, a breezy informality prevailed as family members wearing shorts and other summer attire filed into the arena on a warm, sunny day. Earlier, 1,500 students formed an interlocking UB between Clemens Hall and Lake LaSalle. Many students who attended the welcoming ceremony wore the “I Am UB” T-shirts given to those who took part in the interlocking UB photo shoot.
“We are thrilled to welcome such a talented and promising group of new students, and we’re excited to see what new perspectives, ideas and contributions you will bring to the University at Buffalo,” President John B. Simpson said. “I think you’ll quickly find that as large and complex university as this is, it is also filled with small, close-knit communities. As you settle in over the next weeks and months discovering your new academic home, I think you’ll also start to discover the kinds of things that are going to make UB a special place for you. Whether it’s the place you stop to have a cup of coffee between classes, or the best place to bike-ride on campus, or to sit outdoors and read—grab it now.”
Describing UB’s focus on “research that changes lives,” Simpson told new students they have the opportunity to not only learn and acquire knowledge, but also to help create it “by working alongside faculty and students who are at the cutting edges of their particular fields. …The time for you as undergraduates is a time for you to learn, to experiment, to try out new ideas, and to grow as perhaps you’ve never grown before. …I encourage you to take an active role in your education, to seek out opportunities to talk with and work directly with our world-class faculty—to take advantage of all the varied learning opportunities that are available to you, and to step outside your zone of comfort to explore new disciplines, new kinds of knowledge and discovery, and new ways of understanding the world.”
For his part, Provost Satish K. Tripathi said he observed “our university come to life” as new students arrived on campus throughout the week. “I watched many of our new students learn to navigate the North and South campuses—some getting a bit lost along the way. It is certainly an exciting time to be on campus and to watch a new academic year begin,” he said. Tripathi urged UB freshmen “to take one of our Discovery seminars, to get involved in the Undergraduate Academies, or to participate in research through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities.” The university’s Distinguished Speakers Series, Tripathi added, is another opportunity for undergraduate enrichment.
Noting that members of the Class of 2014 are “among the most academically ambitious and talented students in the nation,” Tripathi told new students they “must make an uncompromising commitment to be actively engaged in your studies.” UB’s international faculty and student body is another plus, he noted, advising new students “to learn from them and to share your own culture. For our university thrives on this cultural exchange.”
Offering the faculty perspective was Ann M. Bisantz, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, and also a UB alumna. “Think critically and take ownership of your own learning process,” Bisantz told those assembled. One way to achieve academic self-sufficiency is to reach out to one’s professors for assistance and guidance, she said. Bisantz also recommended that freshmen be open to friendships with fellow students. “The people you meet and work with now will be your friends, and may become your professional colleagues for many years to come.” In fact, Bisantz said, UB provided the foundation for both her professional and personal lives. She related how she met her future husband—also a member of the UB engineering faculty—on her first day moving into Governors Complex. “I know that could be a frightening concept to you right now,” she said to audience laughter.
Also offering welcoming remarks were Deirdre Carter, a UB junior and leader at this summer’s orientation, and Nischal Vasant, president of the undergraduate Student Association. Julie and Keith Waldron, parents of UB sophomore Madeline Waldron and members of the UB Parent Council, extended advice to fellow parents on how to help their children adjust and do well academically and socially, yet not interfere with their college experience and all that it implies. “Our sons and daughters need an anchor even as college students,” said Julie Waldron. “Be supportive and trusting [though] it can be hard not knowing all the details of their lives. Encourage independence while being available for assistance and support.”
The Buffalo Chips—UB’s male a cappella group—performed several selections that included UB’s alma mater, while the Cathedral Brass performed professional and recessional music framing the program. Following the ceremony, new students and family members adjourned to Baird Point, where a picnic was held attended by 4,000 persons.