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UB Reporter

Campus News

Gift to help create professorship

By MARY COCHRANE

Published October 10, 2013

“I believe very strongly that all students, even those intending a career in science, mathematics or engineering, would benefit tremendously from exposure to coursework in the humanities.”
Eileen Silvers, UB alumna
Eileen Silvers

Eileen Silvers

A UB alumna has pledged $500,000 to help establish a visiting professorship in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.

The gift from Eileen Silvers, BA ’70, will help create the Eileen Silvers WBFO Visiting Professorship in the Arts and Humanities, the first professorship to be funded from proceeds of the 2012 sale by UB of radio station WBFO-FM to the Western New York Broadcasting Association.

Silvers graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history from UB before earning a law degree from Columbia and becoming the most senior female administrator at Bristol Meyers Squibb. She pledged her gift through a bequest to UB. A longtime UB supporter, Silvers has served on the dean’s advisory council and the UB Foundation board.

Silvers says she had been considering a legacy gift to the college and felt that the arts, humanities and letters professorship was the right place to invest her gift.

“I believe very strongly that all students, even those intending a career in science, mathematics or engineering, would benefit tremendously from exposure to coursework in the humanities,” Silvers says. “I felt that the best way that I could support that belief was by establishing this professorship.”

In thanking Silvers for her gift, E. Bruce Pitman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, notes that WBFO played a significant role for generations in elevating the cultural heritage of Western New York. “Eileen has been very generous, giving her time and energy to the college and the university, and has been a great benefactor to the college,” he says. “With this gift, she ensures a lasting legacy of innovative scholarship in the humanities, promoting the cultural vitality of this region and helping UB to attract the visionary thinkers who help us interpret the world around us in new and different ways.”

President Satish K. Tripathi gave $3 million of the proceeds from the sale of WBFO to the college as a challenge match to endow five new professorships in the arts, letters and humanities. Another $1 million of the proceeds will establish a new undergraduate scholarship fund. The endowments will honor the legacy of WBFO-FM, the award-winning, 50,000-watt station that has been a National Public Radio affiliate since January 1959. 

“In creating these endowments, the university will honor in perpetuity WBFO’s legacy at UB and its role in creating a more informed public through news, discussion, commentary and arts and cultural programming,” Tripathi says. “The UB WBFO professorships will provide academic support to help UB attract creative thought leaders.”  

In designating the sale proceeds as endowment funds, UB is continuing to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures, much in the same way WBFO did as one of the nation’s first NPR affiliates, Tripathi adds.