UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Winter 2003
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Message from the President
Message from the Provost
Message from the Associate Vice President

President's Message

Alumni come home to UB

 

This fall, we inaugurated our Alumni Visiting Scholar Seminar program, a new speaker series that offers current students the opportunity to learn from alumni who have been especially successful in their chosen fields. We kicked off this new UB tradition by inviting alumni working in show business to conduct seminars in various aspects of the entertainment industry. With the introduction of a new program in film production and other exciting developments in our media studies program, we were fortunate to be able to call on the firsthand expertise of our many distinguished Hollywood alumni.

Appropriately, this alumni speaker series dovetailed with UB's Homecoming Weekend. Each year, Homecoming gives us the opportunity to reconnect with former students from around the world. As these alumni share their postgraduate knowledge and expertise with our current students, the results stimulate our entire campus community. A celebration of UB spirit and of alumni contributions, Homecoming is a time when the many elements that make UB a strong, dynamic university come together: past, present and future students with a wide range of backgrounds and interests mix and mingle on campus, representing UB's continually unfolding history as a vibrant, multifaceted community.

 
One of the most memorable contributions by a Hollywood alumnus came during the final event in the alumni speaker series with the world premiere screening of director Rob Lieberman's movie Second String. An inspiring sports fantasy that depicts the Buffalo Bills in their first-ever Super Bowl victory, the film set the stage for another great Homecoming tradition—our annual Homecoming football game, and the proud UB Bulls history of intercollegiate athletics it represents. Athletics, like our strengths in the arts, sciences and the professions, is but one of the many dimensions that make up UB's rich, complex university life. Athletic intensity goes hand in hand with the rigors of our academic programs, contributing to a diverse, well-rounded campus community and furthering our mission as a nationally ranked, comprehensive research university.

As one index of UB's growth as a multidimensional research university community, our history of intercollegiate athletic competition—like Second String—teaches us about the power of determined optimism and hard work to overcome intimidating odds. UB's official athletic tradition began in 1894, when the university's Athletic Association was founded and UB played its first official intercollegiate football game.

As football steadily gained ground, other sports were introduced. By the mid-1930s, UB's intercollegiate athletics program was recognized as the most comprehensive in Western New York. With the outbreak of World War II, UB sports competition came to a halt. The return of intercollegiate sports at UB came in 1946, and UB's sports teams enjoyed a postwar rebirth. In 1963—one year after UB joined the SUNY system—women's swimming and diving became UB's first women's intercollegiate team. But in 1971, this long record of success seemingly ended when economic hardship temporarily canceled UB's football program.

With characteristic resilience, however, UB's athletics program rose again after this challenging period. In 1977, UB was granted NCAA Division III status, and the football program was reinstated at this level. In 1986, SUNY approved UB's request to upgrade to Division I-AA, and UB thus became the first SUNY campus to begin the "Run to Division I." In 1993, the year of UB's first Division I-AA football game, UB competed in the international athletic arena by hosting the World University Games. In 1995, UB was invited to join the Division I-A's Mid-American Conference (MAC), and in 1999, our Bulls kicked off their first season of MAC football.

An overview of 200102 season highlights shows that today's student-athletes in our 20 Division I sports continue to pursue new heights of excellence, both on and off the field. UB women's basketball ranked second in the MAC Conference in scoring and field goal percentage defense, while UB's football team won its most games in a season since joining the MAC, earning its first shutout as a Division I team and defeating the cadets of Army in a strong display of athleticism and good sportsmanship at historic West Point. The women's swimming and diving team finished fifth in the MAC Championships and first in the "in-season" invitational meet. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America voted three of UB's men's soccer players to its All-Region Team, while seven women's soccer players were named to the 2001 MAC Academic Honor Roll.

From our outstanding student-athletes, UB has learned that the ideals of competition, personal excellence and teamwork are by no means confined to the playing field. As Rob Lieberman's Second String demonstrates, there are countless lessons to be learned from the world of sports. With that in mind, we hope you'll come home to your alma mater soon to root for your favorite UB team—and cheer on our larger university community's growth in the process. Go Bulls!

William R. Greiner
President, University at Buffalo


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