This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Tripathi addresses Faculty Senate

Published: October 7, 2004

Contributing Editor

Satish K. Tripathi, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, believes that UB can "become one of the world's great research universities" by continuing the academic planning process now under way, composing a set of guiding principles and constructing a campus master plan.

"The completion of these components will resonate with our theme of institutional excellence," he told members of the Faculty Senate at its first full meeting of the 2004-05 academic year.

Noting that UB's strengths derive from the "intellectual, research, teaching and creative contributions of our faculty," Tripathi read a list of only some of the recent accomplishments of members of various departments across campus, including:

  • A $1.5 million grant to the Graduate School of Education to develop strategies to improve the reading comprehension and writing skills of schoolchildren, with students in Buffalo public schools serving as test subjects for the three-year study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Science.

  • The expansion of LiTgloss, the text translation Web site http://wings.buffalo. edu/litgloss of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures in the College of Arts and Sciences, to include the translation of works in African indigenous languages, and in Sanskrit, Hindi and other Devanegari-based texts. The National Endowment for the Humanities funded the expansion with a $196,000 grant.

  • A U.S. Department of Defense-funded study in the School of Nursing that looks at continuing symptoms and the distress they cause to breast cancer survivors once treatment is complete.

  • The three faculty members most recently named SUNY Distinguished Professors, including Elizabeth Mensch, professor in the UB Law School, and Charles E. Mitchell, professor and chair of the Department of Geology in the College of Arts and Sciences, named Distinguished Teaching Professors, and David M. Engel, professor in the UB Law School, named a Distinguished Service Professor.

Tripathi also noted that "students are entering UB better prepared," with average SAT scores and high school grade-point averages "on the rise," and that the university is attracting more students "from outside the Western New York region, the state and the country." UB students also are part of the nationwide surge in the number of applications to study-abroad programs.

"Our students are recognizing the interconnectedness of our global work," he said, adding that these programs ultimately "promote tolerance and peace in the world."

Tripathi thanked the faculty for creating more opportunities for hands-on learning by students, such as the School of Dental Medicine's mobile clinic, staffed by dental students and faculty, which visits villages and towns across Western New York providing free dental care to thousands of children from preschool age to third grade.

"It is only through the caring mentorship of our faculty that these and so many other student projects are possible," he said.

In his nearly three months on the job, Tripathi said he and President John B. Simpson have begun visiting the faculties of the UB schools, with the goal in mind "to cultivate an environment appropriate for a community of scholars."

He cited further examples of the "intellectual diversity that makes the University of Buffalo so unique," including the ranking for the fourth consecutive year of the School of Management as one of the world's "top business schools" by The Wall Street Journal, as well as the opening last month of the $21.2 million National Science Foundation's George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Facility within the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

"I believe we are already moving toward excellence and I'm convinced that the University at Buffalo is truly SUNY's crown jewel," Tripathi said. "I believe the University at Buffalo has the tools to become a truly great research university."

In a brief question-and-answer period following his remarks, Tripathi invited senators to become involved in the current academic planning process by visiting the planning Web site at ub2020 and submitting any questions or suggestions they have there. In response to a question about a similar process begun less than a decade ago at UB, Tripathi said the results of that process will be "used as an example of how to identify the strengths here."

He said that criteria for identifying strengths will vary from school to school, program to program, but that the process will accelerate once the academic planning committee defines those criteria.

Tripathi believes the planning process will look carefully at "the quality of graduate programs, so we can produce Ph.D.s we are proud of," as well as at current and potential centers of study at UB.

"The question is, would creating a center enhance the faculty's ability to do what they're doing and to find success? If they do make sense, we should create them. If they don't make sense, we should abolish them," he said.

Tripathi also hopes to increase research opportunities for students, particularly undergraduates.

"The undergraduates are coming to our research university because they feel they can benefit from the research going on here," he said. "I would like to see us cultivate and promote undergraduate research. We should be encouraging that. We should have one-third to half of all undergraduate students going through that process. This will require the cooperation of the faculty. It's happening here, but we need to do a lot more."

In closing, Tripathi asked the senate for its help in achieving stronger unity among schools and disciplines of study.

"The real problems in the world don't belong to one discipline," he said. "If we want to make a real impact on society, we have to get all disciplines to work together."