Former UB President, Tireless Mentor William R. Greiner Retires from UB Faculty

Release Date: October 21, 2009 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Former University at Buffalo president, provost and longtime Law School professor William R. Greiner, who earned the unofficial title of quintessential university citizen, has retired for health reasons after 42 years of serving the university he loved.

Greiner, UB's 13th president whose lasting contributions include leading the university's drive to upgrade its athletic program to the NCAA Division I level, reluctantly cut short due to medical issues what he called his "second stage of retirement" following his 13-year tenure as president from 1991 to 2004.

"I was hoping to continue the next stage of my career in my mentoring role," said Greiner, 75, who up until his retirement was still active in the classroom, despite health concerns and a multiple bypass surgery. "We'll see. I just have to focus on feeling better."

Last year Greiner published the thought-provoking book, "Location, Location, Location," which chronicles factors leading to construction of UB's North Campus in Amherst, and debunks the urban legend that the decision to build in Amherst, and not in Buffalo, was made for dubious or politically short-sighted reasons.

For the past five years, Greiner has taught courses for the UB Law School and Graduate School of Education.

His list of accomplishments at UB includes launch of the most ambitious fundraising campaign in university and SUNY history, construction of state-of-the-art student residence halls, the establishment of several research institutes and research centers; and years of dedicating himself as a tireless and strategic administrator, as well as a beloved professor and mentor.

When asked about the proudest accomplishment of his distinguished career at UB, Greiner said: "It is the people and careers I was able to help over the course of these many years, at the university and in the community.

"I'm most proud of the people we were able to advance. I helped recruit some of them and hold on to some of them, and I'm very proud of that."

News of Greiner's retirement brought an outpouring of admiration and appreciation from UB leadership, administrators and faculty. UB President John B. Simpson praised Greiner's passionate tenure as president and his ongoing support of the university.

"From his front-row seats at countless Bull games to his impassioned support for UB's growth and development, Bill Greiner has -- and continues to be -- the consummate UB citizen," Simpson said. "As Bill's successor, I have benefited not only from his wide experience and institutional knowledge, but also from his remarkable ability to inspire love for UB from so many others.

"In moving ahead with our strategic planning for UB 2020 and beyond, we build on President Greiner's many achievements, his intellectual range and dedication to mentoring future scholars and, in particular, his abiding belief in the university he has served with such distinction."

UB Provost Satish K. Tripathi said, "Bill Greiner dedicated his professional life to UB. Those who know Professor Greiner, those who worked under his leadership and those who were students under his tutelage have a true appreciation of his untiring commitment to UB.

"Looking out across our university, we see Bill Greiner's corpus of work, including a residential student experience, Division I athletics, a world-class faculty and innovative research across the disciplines. We as a university community owe so much of our success and future successes to UB's 13th president."

Law School Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Law Makau W. Mutua said Greiner has provided invaluable advice to the Law School and has been a mentor "to countless law students."

"Wherever I travel in the country, he is fondly remembered by UB Law alumni," Mutua added. "Professor Greiner's loyalty and selfless service to the Law School and to UB has made our community a better place. He and his wife, Carol, will continue to be valued members of our community."

Law School Vice Dean for Academic Affairs James A. Gardner echoed Mutua's thoughts.

"Bill Greiner has always been a citizen of the university in the fullest sense," Gardner said. "The foremost question in his mind at every moment is always how can he contribute to the well-being of UB, the Law School, his students, his colleagues and his community.

"Given the range and depth of his experience, virtually anything Bill chooses to do always represents a significant contribution," Gardner added.

Greiner is known among the UB community for remaining true to his roots, driving a car with the license plate UB13, referring to his position as the university's 13th president. While serving as president in the 1990s, he cultivated many of the Buffalo-UB alliances that have blossomed under the current Simpson administration at UB.

Greiner's affiliation with the university began in 1967 when he joined the faculty of the UB Law School. He served for seven years as the university's first provost before his appointment as president in 1991. Throughout his more than four decades of UB service, Greiner's dedication and commitment to students was his trademark.

UB awarded its highest award, the Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal -- given for service to the university and the region -- to Greiner at the May 2003 commencement ceremony. At that time, UB Council Chair Jeremy M. Jacobs remarked that Greiner's "outstanding leadership has ensured UB's place among the nation's best public research universities, and his passionate advocacy for Buffalo Niagara has led directly to increased opportunities for greater regional economic development."

In 2004, UB established the William R. Greiner Scholarship Fund in his honor. Former UB Law School Dean Nils Olsen said the reason Greiner received this honor highlighted one of Greiner's greatest priorities during his tenure as provost, president and professor: UB students.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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