It’s an issue not enough people are talking about. Students from underrepresented backgrounds don’t have equal access to higher education. Nor do they graduate with the same frequency.
At UB, we’re amping up efforts to increase diversity and making sure students of all backgrounds have the same ability to achieve and succeed.
Our early efforts are showing progress. Since 2018, 59% of experiential learning fund recipients from the College of Arts and Sciences have been underrepresented minority students. And our new Department of Indigenous Studies will be a home and a hub for new research and curricula that will benefit the university and Indigenous communities.
Tilmon F. Brown, BA ’93, BS ’93, knows the power of perseverance. Brown enrolled at the University at Buffalo in 1964 and was two years into his education when he needed to step away from his pharmaceutical studies to provide for his growing family. Nearly 30 years later, after buying his own business and becoming CEO and owner of New Horizons Baking Company he fulfilled a promise to his parents that a well-paying job would not prevent him from getting a degree and setting an example for his children.
According to Brown, “I have never been more proud of any accomplishment in my life.”
In gratitude to UB for helping him complete his degree, Brown and his beloved late wife, Jonnie, who passed away in 2014, established the Tilmon F. Brown and Jonnie R. Brown Scholarship Fund, which provides support for UB students who are traditionally underrepresented minorities.
UB has instituted holistic, systemic initiatives to address and strengthen its culture of diversity and inclusion. Our values actively embrace equity and fairness, create a culture of shared responsibility in which all voices are integral and encourage active participation of all.
Our Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion—founded in the mid-1970s—was instituted to uphold UB’s commitment to equal opportunity and a climate welcoming of a diverse faculty, staff, student body and the university community. In addition, our president’s advisory council on race, whose members are faculty, staff, students and alumni, was formed to help guide the university in realizing its ideals of equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice, from increasing diversity among faculty and students to requiring courses on racism and antiracism and developing an underrepresented researchers of color program.
Although they no longer live in Buffalo, the entire Brown family has remained connected to UB through communication with the recipients of their scholarship.Seeing the impact their generosity has had on countless students has been extremely rewarding for Brown. “Education is a critical door-opener for the future,” he says. “And if our contribution helps these students improve their lives, that’s an obligation we can’t ignore.”
Initial results are encouraging. The class of 2023 is our most diverse yet, up 5% from 2013. And our graduation rates are continuing to rise. Equal opportunity in higher ed is a long journey, but together we are ready to put in the work.
Your investment in UB will make a difference for a cause that matters to you: whether you make a gift to the UB Fund, support a scholarship for one UB student, sustain the work of a professor who will inspire thousands, or fund a cancer cure that saves the lives of millions. Every gift counts!
What does justice mean in today’s society? How do we ensure that diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of decision-making? At UB, we strive to address essential questions, instill core values in our students, and create more just communities here in Buffalo—and beyond. Explore some of the other ways people have invested in a bright future through UB.
How can we design more equitable cities? What does justice mean in today’s society? How do we ensure that diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of decision-making? At UB we strive to address these (and other) essential questions, instill core values in our students, and create more just communities here in Buffalo—and far beyond. As the world around us rapidly changes, so too does the law. It’s our mission to be the catalyst of that change, and provide access to education regardless of what students look like or where they come from, rooted in a strong foundation of social justice.
That’s the question David Hooper, Class of 2020, asked himself after realizing he was in a negative cycle that began with his father’s death. While he didn’t quite have the answer, he knew one thing: he’d begin to build his new life by earning his bachelor’s degree. For Jim Smist, BS ’80, it was honor his late father, Felix Smist, BS ’65, a non-traditional student who enrolled at UB as a working husband and father and then graduated 16 years later. Watch their stories and learn how one man’s legacy helped shape the lives of many others.