Published September 3, 2015
Dear University Community:
A new fall semester has arrived at UB, and while I know this is an especially busy time for us all, I wanted to take a few moments to welcome all of our students, faculty, and staff, both new and returning.
We have over 28,000 students on campus, and nearly 6,800 faculty and staff employees—not to mention the hundreds of daily visitors to our classrooms, libraries, galleries, theaters, and clinics. So on any given day, there are many thousands of people living, learning, and sharing ideas at UB—making connections and friendships that transform a very large university into a close-knit community.
Part of what makes our UB community so vibrant is that each of us has a distinct vantage point to contribute—a unique way of seeing the world that shapes how we individually and collectively experience UB.
Maybe you are like the freshman I met in the Student Union earlier this week, who remarked that the North Campus is bigger than her upstate New York hometown. Or maybe you are more like the Korean graduate student who told me how easy and enjoyable it is to navigate Buffalo after spending his undergraduate years in Seoul.
Maybe you are teaching your very first UB class this week—or maybe you are thinking about an exciting new approach to a course you’ve taught successfully for many years.
Speaking personally, I identify with each of those vantage points. And at least in some small measure, I recognize each of those back-to-school moments from personal experience.
I too have been a first-time undergraduate on a large urban campus whose student body was larger than my entire hometown population. I’ve been an international student thousands of miles from home, learning a new culture and a new field of study at the same time. I’ve greeted the academic year as a brand-new faculty member feeling a bit like the new kid at school, and later as a seasoned veteran appreciating how much has changed—and stayed the same—over the years.
Those experiences—and many more over my decades as a student, professor, administrator, and parent—have taught me that there is nothing quite like the sense of possibility, opportunity, and discovery that accompanies the start of the fall semester. And this back-to-school excitement never truly goes away—whether this is your first year at UB or your fiftieth. That is because in an academic community like ours, every new encounter, new conversation, and new collaboration brings new life to our ideas and encourages us to challenge our own perceptions and consider them through a new point of view.
UB is indeed a special place, and each of you has a hand in making it so. Thank you for the unique perspective and insights you contribute to our university community, and may the exhilaration and potential of the new academic year energize you throughout the year ahead.