This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

History of UB leadership celebrated in exhibition

Published: October 14, 2004

Reporter Editor

The leadership of UB over the course of its 158-year history is being recognized and celebrated in a special exhibition, "The Inauguration of the 14th President," now on view in the Center for the Arts Atrium.


The history's of UB's leadership is showcased in an exhibition on display in the Center for the Arts Atrium.

The exhibition features portraits of UB's six presidents and nine chancellors—Clifford C. Furnas held both titles, moving from chancellor to president when the private University of Buffalo merged with SUNY in 1962—beginning with Millard Fillmore, the university's first chancellor, to John B. Simpson, who tomorrow will be invested as the university's 14th president.

John Edens, interim university archivist, approached the inaugural committee last summer about presenting some type of exhibit on the university's leadership in conjunction with the inaugural celebration. The Center for the Arts location was selected because the exhibit "needed to be somewhere other than in the libraries—it needed to be somewhere it would be seen" by a wider audience, Edens says.

He worked with Hadley Exhibits, in particular UB graduate David Cinquino, to put together the exhibit. The photos, most of which are official university portraits, are presented in a wash of bright color—red, green and yellow. An introductory panel projects a bold UB blue. The portraits are hung in order on a stark white wall along the east side of the atrium—a presentation that Edens calls "really very striking."

Each portrait presentation also incorporates the seal of the university during the time of the individual's term of office, which allows viewers to see how the seal has evolved over the course of the university's history, Edens notes. In addition, each panel features text noting the president or chancellor's specific contributions to the university, as well as the wider community.

For example, Fillmore is noted for being president of the United States, as well as a founder of UB. Charles P. Norton, who was chancellor from 1905-20, is cited for overseeing the acquisition of land from Erie County and private owners for what is now the South Campus. Samuel P. Capen, chancellor from 1922-50, was the first full-time, salaried chancellor and the first educator to head the university.

The exhibition, which will be on display through Nov. 5, will be stored in the University Archives and can be reused in another space, Edens says.

In text prepared for the exhibition's introductory panel, Edens notes that inaugurations are "occasions for celebrating the rich history of the institution and the enduring relationship between the university and the greater Buffalo community."

Simpson's investiture brings to mind that "inaugurations are also occasions when a new vision for the future is presented and members of the university community come together to renew their commitment to helping the university realize the potential" envisioned by its founders, the text says.

"The 13 men who preceded President Simpson are remembered and honored. We celebrate them and all the other men and women who have contributed in many different ways to shape the first 158 years of the University at Buffalo."