SUNY Chancellor King Recommends John Simpson to be 14th President of the University at Buffalo

By Arthur Page

Release Date: October 17, 2003 This content is archived.


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John Barclay Simpson, executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been nominated to become UB's 14th president.

BUFFALO -- State University of New York Chancellor Robert L. King today announced he will recommend to the State University of New York Board of Trustees that John Barclay Simpson be the next president of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

"I am delighted to recommend such an accomplished scholar, capable administrator and outstanding leader to the Board of Trustees," said King. "John Simpson's experience leading both the academic and operational functions of the University of California Santa Cruz and as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington makes him an ideal candidate to lead the University at Buffalo."

Simpson has led a distinguished academic career. Most recently, he has been executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to that he had a 23-year teaching, research and administrative career at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1994-98. The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington has an enrollment of 18,000 undergraduate and 3,500 graduate students.

Simpson joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington in 1975. He was named professor in 1982 and was director of the Joint Physiology-Psychology Program from 1984-88 and head of the Physiological Psychology Area from 1986-90. He served as associate dean for computing, facilities and research in the university's College of Arts and Sciences from 1991-94.

"I am deeply honored by the prospect of joining the University at Buffalo as its president. This is a superb institution, with a long and distinguished history and an unusually strong future trajectory. I look forward with happiness to meeting the faculty, staff and students of UB, and to working with them as the UB enhances its reputation as the premier public research university in the northeast," said Simpson.

Prior to receiving the chancellor's recommendation, Simpson won the unanimous endorsement of the University at Buffalo presidential search committee.

Jeremy M. Jacobs, chair of the UB Council and the Presidential Search Committee, and Chairman and CEO of Delaware North Companies said, "John Simpson impressed the members of the search committee, the UB Council and SUNY leadership with his qualifications as well as his life-long commitment to public higher education. He is highly regarded and I am confident he will be able to lead this university to even greater accomplishments and recognition in the future."

The UB search committee was composed of seven UB faculty members, two students, one representative from the UB alumni, staff, administration, foundation and four members of the UB Council.

For more information about the UB search committee follow this link:

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university. UB's more than 27,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students pursue their academic interests through more than 100 undergraduate programs, 112 master's programs and 98 doctoral-level programs. It offers the only degrees in law, pharmacy and architecture in the SUNY system, and is the home of the only comprehensive public school of engineering in New York State. UB's athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division I level.

A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Simpson received master's and doctoral degrees in neurobiology and behavior from Northwestern University. Before going to the University of Washington, he was a research associate and fellow of the Institute of Neurological Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania from 1973-75. His research work is in the area of the neuroendocrinology of body fluids and the cardiovascular system.

He also has been a visiting professor of physiology at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

"UC Santa Cruz will be very sad to lose the expertise and talents of our provost and executive vice chancellor John Simpson. On the other hand, we are pleased with the recognition that his appointment as president of the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, brings to the quality of the leadership team at UC Santa Cruz. John Simpson will be an excellent president of the University at Buffalo, and we all wish him and his new institution well," said UC Santa Cruz Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood.

"John Simpson has exceptional leadership experience and outstanding academic values. He will be a wonderful president for the University at Buffalo," said Richard L. McCormick, president of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. McCormick was president of the University of Washington during the time Simpson was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Simpson experienced considerable success as a research scientist and instructor prior to entering administration. During his term as dean of arts and sciences at the University of Washington, he guided that college through significant budget reductions while fostering innovations in interdisciplinary programs, such as the creation of an excellent Center for the Humanities.

"John is a truly wonderful human being and an amazingly gifted leader and administrator," said University of Washington Psychology Chair Ana Mari Cauce. "He makes difficulty decisions honestly and directly, but only after seeking out and encouraging dissenting opinions. His ability to work with others is unsurpassed."

At UC Santa Cruz, he has been the chief academic and budgetary officer as this campus of the University of California has grown from less than 11,000 students to its present size of nearly 15,000 students. This period marked a number of new graduate programs such as digital arts and news media, bioinformatics, electrical engineering, politics, and an innovative Ed.D. degree with San Jose State University. These developments were framed by a campus-wide long term strategic planning process, completed under Simpson's leadership as provost.

"John Simpson will make a great president," said University of California Santa Cruz Professor of Environmental Studies Professor Brent M. Haddad. "John is a very creative leader and at the same time he has the talent to make a complex organization operate efficiently and effectively. He has seized opportunity and taken risks while stressing accountability. His ability to bring out the best in people is best demonstrated by the loyalty of his staff. John was a fabulous provost and I will miss him."

Simpson will be the 14th president of the University at Buffalo and succeeds William. R. Greiner. Greiner announced in January that he is stepping down as the 13th president of UB, a position that he has held since 1991.

Simpson was born in Oakland California on June 8, 1947, has two adult children and resides in Santa Cruz.

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States educating more than 410,000 students in 6,650 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit