Ask Your President

In each issue, an undergrad chosen at random gets to pose a question to President Tripathi

What are you going to be working on when you step back into your office today?

President Tripathi and Nicole Ciesielski

President Tripathi and Nicole Ciesielski

To be honest, I don’t expect I’ll be seeing much of my office today! I’ll be spending the day, as usual, talking with students like you, as well as faculty, staff and many others—near and far—who are invested in and connected to the life and work of our university. You’d be amazed at how much work can be accomplished, and how much can be learned, in a day’s worth of conversations.

Already today, I’ve met with faculty members planning an educational outreach effort in the arts, spoken with a local legislator about a community-development initiative and taken part in a conference call about higher education accreditation with a national board I sit on. And it’s only 10:30 a.m., so the day is still young.

After you and I meet, I’ll be participating in a video interview about current efforts in realizing our university’s long-range vision, UB 2020. Over lunch, I am headed to the Student Union to talk with student volunteers about the important work they do, then meeting with our faculty governance group to hear their recommendations on some academic policy matters. Afterward, I’ll be speaking by phone with the president of one of UB’s distinguished partner institutions overseas, then heading downtown to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. While downtown, I’ll meet with some medical students, participate in a news conference regarding a new partnership in advanced manufacturing, and then wind down the day over dinner with a group of UB engineering faculty and some of their collaborators in the business community.

Of course, no day goes strictly according to schedule—new issues and unforeseen events and opportunities always arise. Regardless of what agenda items are on my calendar for the day, though, I’m always focused on one fundamental thing: helping to move our institution forward so that our students have the best education, so that our faculty can continue to make pioneering research contributions and so that our university can be engaged as an active partner in enriching our communities.

This list of the day’s events tells you a lot about the vast network of people and communities that drive the university conversation on a daily basis. People often ask what it feels like to be the person in charge of such a large enterprise—a university that is like a small city in scale and scope.

The truth is, leading a university is not a solo effort. The work of a university is carried out by a multitude of people, and it is intimately connected with our larger communities—from our surrounding neighborhoods to the national higher education community, to our global scholarly community. A big part of the president’s job is advancing these conversations by fostering the collaboration and dialogue that drive our university mission. Thanks for taking time to join me in that work today!

About our student, Nicole Ciesielski

Ciesielski graduated this past May with two bachelor’s degrees, one in psychology, the other in health and human services. A native of Eden, N.Y., she applied to UB’s graduate program in rehabilitation counseling,* with hopes of eventually working as a rehab counselor, possibly in addictions treatment. During the February photo shoot, Ciesielski and Tripathi chatted about yoga, her training regimen (she was a member of the Division I women’s rowing team) and the GRE, which apparently is not required for the program she’s interested in. When she indicated she may take it for practice, Tripathi responded with a bit of fatherly advice: “At least prepare—don’t just take it to see.”

*Nicole has since been accepted to the graduate program in rehabilitation counseling.