This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Simpson updates FSEC on planning process

Published: September 16, 2004

Reporter Editor

President John B. Simpson told the Faculty Senate Executive Committee yesterday that he was hired as UB's 14th president "to bring about change within the institution; to push an agenda that would move UB in the direction of becoming a great university." The way he plans to do that, Simpson said, is to institute a detailed institutional planning process.

The process seeks to remedy a number of things that Simpson says need to be addressed and include the need to define clearly institutional direction and values, the academic support priorities, and to set expectations and accountability for the institution, its units and employees.

Simpson said he believes that it's not understood clearly that "the academic agenda drives the institutional agenda" for the university. And when it comes to academics, he added, there is a need to identify programs in which to focus its investment.

He noted that the faculty will play a key role in decision-making when it comes to determining academic priorities. "It has to be a process that involves the university community, especially the faculty," he said.

Several faculty members expressed concern that UB has conducted planning exercises in the past, but that the documents have "sat on the shelf" and not been implemented.

William Baumer, professor of philosophy, pointed out that "things change; that's going to happen with any plan we write. The most important thing here is not the plan; it's the set of rules by which we decide what are we going to do next."

Simpson said that whatever kind of written document is produced via the planning process, "it's going to have to be plastic; it's going to have to be responsive to the changing external, as well as internal, environment. It has to have that kind of flexibility."

"Having said that, there's nothing more important in this institution than the guiding principles we've agreed upon," he said.

Simpson also updated FSEC members on the three vice presidential searches that currently are under way. UB is conducting national searches for the positions of vice president for research, vice president for health affairs and vice president for external affairs. He said that while these searches may produce some internal candidates, it's important to conduct the searches nationally in order to attract "the best available person."

He said that after considerable discussion, it was decided to separate the "double-position" of vice president for health affairs and the dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences into two positions. It's important to do this, he said, so there will be no confusion between medicine and health sciences, which is a much broader group.

"Success in the research arena (in the health sciences) requires interaction and coordination" among disciplines across the university. The vice president for health affairs will foster those interactions, he said.

Moreover, having a separate vice president will enable UB to have a more effective leadership role in the medical and clinical care community in Buffalo, he said.

Satish Tripathi, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, spoke about the recent reorganization within his office. He told senators that internal searches are under way for three vice provost positions: vice provost and dean of undergraduate affairs, vice provost and dean of graduate studies, and vice provost for faculty affairs.

He said he hopes to have the positions filled within eight weeks.