Let me start by giving you my 20-second definition of UB 2020.
UB 2020 is our university’s vision of excellence, focused
on realizing our full promise as one of the nation’s great
research universities. It’s about bringing together the best
and brightest faculty across the disciplines to take on some of the
most pressing global challenges of the 21st century—whether
it’s improving access to education, addressing human rights
issues, responding to climate change or seeking cures for HIV and
cancer. And it’s about preparing you and all of our students
to be the next generation of global leaders in your fields, your
professions and your communities.
You’ll sometimes hear people talk about “2020”
as a deadline for achieving these ambitions. But “2020”
is also a reference to keen vision. It’s about setting our
sights on the future … being able to see clearly where we
want to go and the paths that will best take us there.
Whether the year is 2016 or 2060, we always need to be focused
on where we want to be in five, ten, 50 years and beyond. And we
have to be ready to keep taking our vision to the next level as we
evolve to meet new challenges and opportunities.
That’s what we’ve been doing, and continue to do, as
we realize our UB 2020 ambitions. And right now, we are actively
moving UB’s vision forward in a number of exciting
Let me give you a few examples that you’ll see firsthand
in the next few years. You probably already know we are
revitalizing the general education curriculum to create a
transformational liberal arts experience for our students—an
experience I think is unique in the context of a major research
university environment. This new curriculum, launching next fall,
will connect what you learn in the classroom directly with
real-world experience, including internships, clinical and service
learning, and study abroad opportunities.
We’re developing graduate and professional programs, like
our expanded inter-professional education across the five health
science schools, and we’re launching new programs like the Creative
Arts Initiative that bring more renowned visiting artists to
UB. We’re creating cutting-edge departments too, like the Department of Materials Design and Innovation,
housed jointly in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School
of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Across the university, we are pushing the boundaries of
interdisciplinary research as we launch the Communities of Excellence initiative, which
brings together faculty, students and staff to tackle urgent global
challenges, like how to design more sustainable building materials
for the future, and how to ensure better and more equitable access
to health care, food and clean drinking water.
We also are greatly expanding our reach in our broader
communities, from our role in Buffalo’s renaissance to our
80-plus partnerships with distinguished higher education partners
overseas. Our students have incredible opportunities to extend
UB’s engagement, both locally and globally.
As part of the Class of 2019, Bailey, you’re in a great
position to reap the benefits of these transformations. This is an
exciting time to be at UB, and you’ll be in the thick of much
of the progress that will shape our university’s
future—in the year 2020 and beyond!
A freshman from Liverpool, N.Y., Bailey Radel is majoring in math and economics, with her sights set on teaching high school. She is passionate about “getting people to like math again.” The oldest of eight children, she already has experience helping her five sisters and two brothers with homework around the family’s kitchen table. This semester she’s supplementing her “in-home internship” by participating in an Honors Program service-learning seminar in the Buffalo Public Schools.
Tripathi told Radel that he, too, had wanted to be a math teacher, and urged her to take statistics and computer science courses as necessary tools for her chosen field. Conversation then turned to all those siblings queued up for college. “Potentially, we might have seven more Radels coming here?” the president asked with a smile. This could happen if her Buffalo-based grandmother has her way, Radel explained. “She’s been giving the kids UB sweatshirts and mugs as gifts, slowly putting the idea in their minds!”