President reaffirms UB 2020 plan
Tripathi delivers annual State of the University Address
Published: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 02:10
President Satish Tripathi assured the crowd in the Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall that UB is on track to fulfill its goals over the next seven years.
“Every day, we continue to elevate our university in excellence, impact and stature,” he said.
On Friday, Tripathi delivered his annual State of the University Address to an audience of about 150 people. In a speech that lasted about 30 minutes, Tripathi emphasized strengthening the current path of UB 2020 and focused on three interconnected goals: advancing research, creating global leaders and engaging communities, locally and globally.
“As we realize this vision, we are bringing the eyes of the world to UB and to Buffalo as a leading site for innovative research and discovery; as a place where bright students flock for opportunities they won’t find elsewhere; as a worldwide destination for excellence in the arts, culture and creativity; and as a global hub for the best in health sciences education, research and clinical care,” Tripathi said in his speech.
The speech was reminiscent of his address last year; Tripathi said the goals have remained relatively the same.
“We haven’t changed the things we want to do,” Tripathi said. “What we have done the last year is refine some and see how we can make the undergraduate experience a lot better.”
Tripathi stressed the importance of improving UB’s research presences as a major facet of UB 2020.
Liesl Folks, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, believes this is crucial in order to advance UB as a globally recognized research institution.
“We have a huge opportunity to leverage where we are now and make great strides,” said Folks, who was hired in October 2013. “Engineering in particular has bumped the national trend in that we have seen an uptake of students coming to UB, where many midrange private schools have seen a serious decline in the number of students attending their engineering program.”
She said it is evident that students value the low tuition rate and great education.
On Aug. 22, President Barack Obama visited UB to give a speech addressing the state of education in terms of affordability and debt.
Tripathi used Obama’s visit as evidence that UB 2020 is, in fact, working.
Tripathi said UB is already seeing the effects of UB 2020 in multiple other areas, citing the Medical Campus and increased number of faculty as two examples.
The Medical Campus will advance UB into a leader in areas like “academic medicine, world-class medical education and state-of-the-art health care,” he said.
The downtown campus – which is expected to bring 2,000 more UB faculty, staff and students downtown every day – is scheduled to open in the fall 2016 semester. Tripathi said the new faculty and facilities are a large part of the initiative.
Last year, UB hired over 180 new staff and about 150 new full-time faculty members, including the largest group of new tenure-track faculty the school has seen in decades, he said.
In addition, Tripathi stressed the importance of three changes in the infrastructure and curricula. He said he plans to give students significant global experience in their time at UB, which may include study abroad programs. He also said a way to expand the effectiveness of academics is by offering students experiential learning options. And finally, he emphasized the addition of a capstone course, which would allow students to apply what they learned at UB to their future careers.
The president noted the discussion about UB’s future shouldn’t only focus on admissions and graduation.
“Thus far, this debate has focused mostly on two things: getting more students in the door and sending them more quickly out the door, degrees in hand,” Tripathi said. “But we are not talking enough about what happens in the vast space in between entering and exiting higher education. We need to be talking more about the college experience itself.”