VOLUME 31, NUMBER 17 THURSDAY, January 27, 2000

Victor Rice was appointed to the UB Council in September. He is the former chief executive officer of LucasVarity, Inc. and former chairman of the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise Council.

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What have you been up to since leaving LucasVarity and the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise Council? What's Ravelin?

Ravelin is a company I set up for my own activities. I'm looking at investment opportunities and other activities that might help the community. There are two things that I'm actively involved in right now. One is looking to see whether there are people in the community who are in the early stages of developing new businesses and whether, with my background in management and with the cooperation of some other people who are in similar circumstances to myself, we can get involved with these people and try to make a difference in the way these businesses are growing. These people are a little bit beyond startup-they're in phase 2. In other words, they have the idea, they've got it off the ground, sort of. But, in fact, from my experience, very few inventors or ideas have the management disciplines to take their business to the next stage. So I'm trying to evaluate ideas that are good and have gotten off the ground and how myself and other colleagues can bring our management disciplines to bear to take them onto the next stage. The other area I'm involved in is "Herd in Buffalo," this idea of creating these individual fiberglass buffaloes-highly decorated by local artists-and placing them all over the city as a tourist attraction and as a means of generating money for Roswell Park Alliance, the Burchfield Penny and others.

Rice How did you get involved with the UB Council?

Bill Greiner had set up some time ago an activity-the Buffalo President's Board of Visitors- as an advisory committee. I suspect because I've got an active interest in the community, an active interest in what UB does, that the end result of that was that I was approached by Jeremy Jacobs, the chairman of the council, as to whether I might join the council.

You could live any where in the world. Why Buffalo?

I could. I was born in England, and I've lived in Canada. The reason is, I think this community is a community that has so many opportunities in terms of its quality of life. It's also a community that constantly underrates itself. And could, in fact, be much more prosperous than it presently is. It's a free choice. I like it here. It somehow takes people who were not born in the community to be more active about what Buffalo could do than a lot of born-and-bred Buffalonians. And I think that's sad, and I'd like to change it. What more could you wish for in this community? It's almost 15 minutes from anywhere. You have green spaces, sports, access to golf, access to water, access to beaches. I think the weather is nice. You have four distinct seasons.

What role do you see yourself playing on the Council?

To help guide the university in accepting a trend that's occurring. If you go back into the history, UB moved from being a private university to a public university. If you look over time, the amount of government funding is declining. And, therefore, it's going to have to carve a new role. Also, I'd like to see it gain a higher status than is recognized today. Attract a lot more students-and different types of students as well. I think it has an extremely promising future.

You're a relative newcomer to UB. What are your impressions of the university?

It's an institution that is poised for taking off and hasn't quite got there yet. It's beginning to very clearly define its role but, again, is not totally articulating it. There are phenomenal assets there, but I don't think people know about them. I have a feeling it's a splendid organization that has not yet moved into the consciousness of the region. It's now beginning to try to articulate its mission, its role. All of these things are positive, and all I want to do is get it much higher in the consciousness of Western New York. And I'd like to see it capable of attracting somewhat greater diversity of students, nationally and internationally.

How does the American system of higher education compare to the British system?

I'm constantly shocked by how poor people's educational standards are at their junior schools. I'm old-fashioned. I could read, write and tell the time before I went to school. I find it pretty appalling that is not now regarded as a criterion for education. I find you get people arriving at a university who are far less capable of obtaining all the advantages that a university education has to offer. It levels out at post-graduation. It you were to take a European post-grad and a U.S. post-grad, they'd be very similar. But what you've now gone through is a massive filtering process until the education levels out. I don't think it has to be that way. I don't see any reason why every kid of 5 should not be able to read. Unfortunately, that's not modern teaching practices.

Is there any topic that I didn't touch on that you would like to address?

My own belief is that the greatest asset you can give any student is a global view of the world. And I just feel we haven't quite captured that. We should really be able to say that the world is everyone's oyster. You have all these other trends taking place, like the Internet-the ability to talk to someone in Nigeria or Timbuktu or Australia. You want students to understand that they can participate in this huge global community. And they can do it much more actively from a Western New York base. Where you're living should no longer be any inhibition on viewing your opportunity as being the total world.

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