"University Council Addresses Ground Zero, Enrollment and Academic Reputation"

During a meeting Friday to review UB's progress over the past year, the University Council discussed topics ranging from Ground Zero research and the aftermath of Sept. 11 on the UB community to recently compiled enrollment data and a profile of the freshman class.

Michel Bruneau, deputy director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering, and also a professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering, gave a poignant presentation on reconstructing New York City's Ground Zero.

Bruneau and colleagues Andrew Whittaker and Andrei Reinhorn received a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, in addition to a yearly allowance, to survey the collateral damage of the area and to devise ways to rebuild the World Trade Center and repair the extensive damage to surrounding buildings.

He said the fire, which contributed to the collapse of the Twin Towers, burned at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour after the impact, 400 degrees higher than the temperature at which steel loses capacity. According to Bruneau, the buildings' collapse was a direct result of the towers' design; the structure was built from extremely light material to allow its height, and because of gravity and compression fell outward when collapsing.

The towers were not built to withstand an attack like that of Sept. 11, according to Bruneau, but rather were designed to handle natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. He believes his department can develop more ways to build structures more resistant to terrorist attacks.

Provost Elizabeth Capaldi provided a comprehensive summary of enrollment for the fall semester, emphasizing UB's highest yield of accepted freshmen in 21 years, the highest total enrollment in 10 years and the highest number of new graduate and professional students in the university's history. The total number of graduate and professional students this year, both full- and part-time, jumped to 8,548, up 9.6 percent from fall 1998.

Capaldi said that, despite recent events, UB's international headcount has remained steady. She added, however, that many overseas students are not as willing to study in the United States since the tragedy.

Freshman numbers have dropped from 1999, which Capaldi attributed to a SUNY cap on UB's freshman enrollment for the next several years. UB's acceptance rate for freshmen also declined from 82.4 percent in fall 1999 to 68.9 percent this semester, rendering UB more selective in admissions.

Capaldi also reported that the mean SAT score of non-early decision freshmen is at its highest level since the SAT scoring methodology changed in 1996.

Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School Kerry Grant brought up the topic of national publications and surveys that have cast UB in a negative light. The discussion focused specifically on the Princeton Review survey, a publication Grant said, "doesn't have a high level of journalistic integrity."

The topic seemed to light a fire under the council members, who urged UB President William Greiner to improve UB's national image. University Council Chairman Jeremy Jacobs said he wants UB to become one of the three to five colleges a prospective student and parent visits, which would improve the chances of students deciding to enroll at UB.

Following the meeting, Greiner said that he prefers to "make the college itself better" rather than confront the Princeton Review about its portrayal of UB.

Student Representative Eric Reich, a third-year law student at UB, said he was most concerned about the pride factor of UB; that is, what is lacking in student support of the university. He plans to meet with the Student Association officers to address those issues.

"I think there's a general sentiment that maybe it's not cool to like UB," Reich said. "It should be the students' mentality that they're here and they should enjoy their time here."

"No one will respect and admire UB until we as students respect and admire UB," he said.