"Greiner, Black Discuss UB on WBFO"

UB President William R. Greiner and Vice President for Student Affairs Dennis Black spent Thursday night discussing transportation, the Millard Fillmore College and tuition and budget concerns on WBFO's "Talk of the University."

"To kick off a discussion of tuition policy might be mistaken as [us] advocating a tuition increase this year," Greiner said in response to a question regarding tuition hikes. "I want to make it absolutely clear that ... that's not to be discussed now."

While Gov. George Pataki is preparing the state budget, SUNY Chancellor Robert King is negotiating the system's budget, which, according to Greiner, will see "a very difficult and interesting year," due in part to the recent attacks on New York City.

The presentation of the budget "might mislead people as to what the purpose of [the tuition policy situation] is," the president said. Greiner assured listeners that no tuition increase would be imposed this year.

A caller asked the president if it would be possible to "lock in" tuition, maintaining the same tuition rate for each of a student's undergraduate years, to enable students to plan financially for their education and know at the outset the total cost of schooling.

Greiner responded "not really," but mentioned an alternative way for future students and their families to start saving for college, called the State Savings Plan. He also indicated that no predictable signs of tuition increases per year exist.

"A student who starts in September 2000 can't be guaranteed that by 2004 they'll never see a tuition increase," he said. "Not under current circumstances."

Another caller wondered about the possibility of a change from a bus to a rail system between the North and South campuses. Greiner replied, "It is a community decision that would and should be made in Western New York," and not the decision of the university. He said that environmental, economic and practical issues should be addressed.

"[We should be] open to working with the community on the resolution of those kinds of important and expensive public investment decisions," he said.

Greiner also discussed UB's recent decision to hand over the deed of the Darwin Martin House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, to the Martin House's Restoration Corporation.

For the bulk of the evening, Greiner discussed the university's contribution to the maintenance of the house and how it was formerly the residence of his predecessors. Over time, however, the building deteriorated and, said Greiner, "was not going to work as a presidential residence."

The house suffered some serious structural damage, which forced the building out of commission for several years and made it virtually unlivable due to "the ravages of the elements," Greiner said. Although UB retains the title to the house, Buffalo's Parks and Recreation Department will be given contract and management rights to the full restoration of the site. The university still plans to be a partner in the attraction as a recruitment tool, according to Greiner.

Greiner went on to discuss the recent reorganization of the Millard Fillmore College into an extension unit dealing with non-traditional, distance learning and certificate programs rather than simply a night school. The college is currently monitoring the needs of part-time students, although the university is gearing more towards full-time than part-time programs. Greiner showed concern for a caller wondering whether he can finish his engineering degree requirements under the MFC umbrella.

"We don't want anybody to fall under the cracks," Greiner said.

Another caller who only takes one three-credit course at UB asked if any consideration has been given to waiving non-tuition fees for adult commuter students who do not utilize the facilities of the university.

Greiner called this situation "one of our vexing, unresolved problems, and I think we really have to tend to it periodically." He said the fewer number of credits taken by a student, the more disproportionate the fee distribution becomes.

"It's something we have to keep working on," he said.