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UB 2020 brings dissatisfaction among some SA members

Asst. News Editor

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 18:02


Alexa Strudler /// The Spectrum

UB Provost Charles Zukoski, left, gave a presentation on "Realizing UB 2020" to students, mainly SA senators and e-board members, on Tuesday night. Some SA members, like Travis Nemmer, right, are unhappy with UB's drafted plans.

Student Association President Travis Nemmer doesn’t see much of a plan in UB 2020.

On Tuesday night, Provost Charles Zukoski held an open forum for students, mainly SA senators and e-board members. The session allowed students to share their input on the future plans of UB 2020 – UB’s $5 billion renovation plan.

The plan is partially funded by annual tuition hikes that started this year and will equate to $100 million over a total of five years.

The provost asked for student opinions to help shape what he called “Realizing UB 2020” – a written plan on how to achieve the goals of UB 2020.

“The document has ‘draft’ stamped on it because it is now open for discussion,” Zukoski said. “We are looking for feedback. We are looking for questions. Is it good, complete or incomplete?”

Nemmer had a response.

“I don’t know,” Nemmer said. “There is nothing for me to influence because there is no plan.”

The document sets out four goals: make UB a national leader in education, research and innovation; make students effective leaders for tomorrow; strengthen UB’s engagement in the local community and become a top-tier Association of American Universities public research university.

But the document is just “fluff,” according to David Murphy-Longhini, a junior business finance, human relations and management information systems major and SA webmaster.

“What if you I told you ‘I am going to make you the most attractive man on the planet, the most wealthy, with girls all over you?”’ Murphy-Longhini asked. “What do you think about that? Of course you are going to say all that is cool. They didn’t seem to have a plan, an objective or a focus.”

When asked to respond to the negativity his presentation received, Zukoski said in an email, “I encourage students to read the narrative and ask questions if it is not clear to them.”

Zukoski added, “Realizing UB 2020 is meant to be ambitious. The challenges facing higher education are large and complex and can’t be addressed with simple solutions.”

Murphy-Longhini, like Nemmer, said the document and presentation seemed disconnected – a disconnect mirrored in the relationship between the administration and its students, he added.

Dan Ovadia, a senior in the School of Management and the student representative for the University Council, felt the provost did a good job of articulating the overall direction of Realizing UB 2020.

Ovadia also stressed student engagement is important and “the plan doesn’t end with the information sessions.”

Zukoski encouraged students to send any additional feedback they might have to his office via email. Murphy-Longhini plans to take advantage of this request, as he has written a document over four pages.

Throughout the presentation, Zukoski emphasized the importance of internships for every student, some sort of international experience and establishing the “Heart of the Campus” – a complete renovation of Capen Hall and the surrounding buildings, which he hopes will help centralize the campus. 

Nemmer feels renovations, for the most part, are unnecessary and the provost should focus on projects and programs that will have a more direct effect on students.

“We all want to make UB a better school than it is – a more distinguished university than it already is,” Nemmer said. “Yes, I would like to see things more centralized and I’d like to see Capen look a bit nicer, but I don’t need a super glass building that looks like a mall when we could just settle for working outlets.”

Zukoski pointed out the themes of Realizing UB 2020 were health, the environment, creativity and justice. The university plans to create more “tangible” solutions with those four themes in mind.

Murphy-Longhini feels the problem is the provost doesn’t have substantial goals. He believes the administration is looking at UB 2020 too broadly and they should narrow its focus.

“When you focus on everything, nothing gets done,” Murphy-Longhini said.

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