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President Tripathi’s State of the University Address reflects on the year’s accomplishments

Tripathi announces comprehensive fundraising campaign to come this spring

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President Satish Tripathi’s sixth annual address took full stock of the year’s accomplishments; from the completion of 1 Capen and 1 Diefendorf, to the development the new medical campus, as well as the year’s record-breaking scholarly achievements.

Tripathi spoke to hundreds of faculty, staff, students and alumni in the Student Union Theater Friday. He reflected on the institution’s growth since he came to UB in 2004. The speech highlighted UB’s recent accomplishments, including the three campuses’ physical transformations, the student body’s record number of Fulbright scholars and a growing research portfolio. Tripathi also touched on the one black mark on the year, Dennis Black’s felony plea. This was Tripathi’s first public appearance since news broke that two former UB administrators embezzled over $300,000 in state funds.

“Their actions demonstrated a brazen disregard for our university, our students, our faculty, our alumni and all the communities we serve,” Tripathi said. “But we will not allow the actions of those who betray us to continue to define who we are. Their actions are completely contrary to who we are as a university community.”

It was important to address it publicly, and show what the school is doing to prevent something similar happening again, Tripathi said in a press conference after the address.

The morning’s major announcement was an upcoming comprehensive campaign to focus on increasing student scholarships, professorships and the continued renovation and construction of buildings and dorms. Tripathi said this is UB’s second comprehensive fundraising campaign. The school will announce the campaign’s details in the spring.

Tripathi spoke about an increased need for philanthropy as state funding for universities continues to decline.

“The utmost example of how private philanthropy and support can transform a university for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences,” Tripathi said. “Thanks to Jeremy Jacobs and his family, UB is weeks away from opening the doors to the new home of the Jacobs School.”

Tripathi mentioned the most recent gift, a $4 million donation from alumnus Stephen Still.

Tripathi also addressed the graduate student’s living stipend campaign.

“I applaud our campus community for respecting each other’s rights to express their viewpoints, just as I respect our graduate students’ right to speak up, and speak openly about their concerns regarding TA stipends,” Tripathi said.

Tripathi said the dean of the Graduate School and department chairs are having discussions with graduate students. He did not say when these discussions are occurring.

He pointed to UB’s advancement as a premier research institution, reflected in UB’s consistent bump in national rankings.

Over the last decade, UB rose 24 spots among the nation’s best public and private universities, according to the U.S. World and News report. Tripathi said this is more than any other institution in the Association of American Universities (AAU).

UB received $27 million more in federal research expenditures, despite a downward trend in federal research aid, Tripathi said.

Tripathi gave a few examples where these funds are at work across the university, including the Department of Pediatrics using a $2.8 million grant to fight childhood obesity. The School of Nursing is using $2.4 million toward increasing access to mental health care and substance abuse treatment among Native American communities.

Tripathi ended his speech with an address to the audience.

“Always remember, each of your ideas brings our mission into sharper focus,” Tripathi said. “Your ideas and your actions inspire me. You are why, as I look toward the horizon; this is what I clearly see: a university on the move, an institution on the rise.”

Nick Smiedala, an instructor for the English Language Institute, brought several ESL students to watch the address. Smieldala’s students said they struggled to understand the president, but enjoyed the parts they heard. Smiedala said he felt inspired by the speech and the “beautiful video” that accompanied Tripathi’s talk.

A slideshow of staff and students from across the university played next to Tripathi while he spoke, coordinated by the communications department.

Students and faculty mingled in the Student Union following the address for a reception with Tripathi. 

Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at sarah.crowley@ubspectrum.com


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