UB in the Weber era
Vice President Scott Weber discusses his plans for Student Life
Scott Weber wants to be known as more than “the man who sends the emails.”
He knows his signature, “A. Scott Weber,” sign-off is how most UB students know their Vice President; but Weber has bigger dreams for students than cluttering their inboxes.
Weber sat down with The Spectrum on Tuesday to discuss his experience as Vice President for Student Life after he was appointed in January by Tripathi once Dennis Black resigned from the position. Weber spoke about his vision for revamping Student Life and some of his chief priorities: ensuring student post-graduate success, improving the physical campus and addressing the growing demand for counseling services on-campus.
Weber reflected on his journey at UB – from his arrival in 1983 as an eager young professor with his hair in a middle part, owning a Volkswagen bug with California plates, to his rise into one of the highest positions on campus.
Weber said he never expected to become vice president of Student Life, but has embraced the role.
“I thought I’d miss my faculty roots a lot,” he said. “But I really enjoy the more central role because I’ve really had the chance now to impact so many more students.”
Weber said he hopes his experience with teaching will help bridge the gap between student life and academia. Weber said he thinks the next frontier for higher education is to improve students’ preparation for post-graduate life.
Under Weber’s charge, Career Services is conducting a self-assessment and plans to bring in a national panel to assess UB’s strengths and weaknesses in preparing students for their post-graduate life, Weber said.
Weber announced his plan to rollout a new student employment initiative in January to transform student jobs into more constructive experiences.
Entities like Campus Living and Campus Dining & Shops will recast student job descriptions to incorporate a series of “ten core competencies” that Weber hopes will translate into a more meaningful job experience.
The plan is in its early stages, according to Weber, but he said he hopes to incorporate electronic badging in the job descriptions so students can become certified in various areas through their on-campus positions.
“I want those jobs to be more than they are today because I’m really thinking about it as an arch for their future,” he said. “I think this could be transformative. I’m really committed to that because I think for students and their families, part of the anxiety today is ‘what am I going to do, how am I going to support myself.’ We as an institution will need to think more about the outcomes.”
Weber is also taking a look at wellness services on-campus.
“The demand for counseling is outpacing all growth in student enrollment and it’s really an exploding area,” Weber said. I think there’s just more anxiety in the world today; there’s more uncertainty in the world today. I think people are getting better diagnoses…so that continues to be a challenge.”
He hopes to create a Wellness Center on campus where recreation, counseling and wellness services are all under the same roof.
“That’s a big area I’m really focused on a lot and I’m working hard toward figuring what is the manifestation of that,” he said.
Weber’s dreams for the university are inextricably woven with revitalizing the physical campus. He is in the process of putting out a request for proposals to bring in a national consultant to assess the Student Union, and he hopes to decide on a consultant by this January or February.
He daydreams about a Wellness Center overlooking Lake LaSalle where students will come to collaborate and socialize.
“I get really jazzed thinking about it, to tell you the truth,” he said.
It’s clear that the vice presidency suits him—President Tripathi told The Spectrum he thinks Weber is even more student-oriented than his predecessor.
That’s saying something, since Black was considered the friendliest, most beloved administrator by students for decades.
When asked about taking over after Black, who pleaded guilty to grand larceny on Sept. 7 for stealing over $300,000 of university money, Weber said he does not feel pressured by the situation. He is focused on the future, not the past, he said. While talking about his 34 years at UB, Weber became emotional. There were tears in his eyes.
“I’ve devoted my whole professional life to this institution,” Weber said. “You’re not at a point yet in your life where that might mean very much to you, but it means an incredible amount to me. I get emotional even just thinking about it, because this institution has been good to me. I hope I have been able to repay some of that back to the institution and I hope I can continue to do that.”
Maddy Fowler contributed reporting to this story.
Sarah Crowley is the senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org