Some UB graduate schools may move to South Campus

Graduate Schools of Education and Social Work may move to South

parkerhall

Approximately five miles separate UB’s North and South Campuses. To Christine Bork, those additional miles are the most frustrating part of her schedule.

Bork, a first-year graduate student in the School of Social Work, said because half of her classes are on North and half are on South, she has to devote a large amount of her time to commuting back and forth.

This may change if President Satish Tripathi’s proposal to move the Graduate School of Social Work and the Graduate School of Education to South Campus comes to fruition.

Tripathi spoke of the potential plan during his annual State of the University Address a few weeks ago. There are approximately 1,400 students in the School of Education and 450 students in the School of Social Work that would be uprooted to the South Campus if this change occurs.

As part of UB 2020, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is currently under construction downtown near Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood. The school will open in 2017, leaving a gap on the South Campus where the medical school currently is.

Nancy Smyth, Dean of the School of Social Work, said this proposal has been in discussion for quite some time, so she wasn’t surprised when the president announced it. The School of Social Work currently has classes divided on both campuses and Parker Hall is the building currently in use on South Campus.

“We actually already have classrooms [on South Campus] since the university has a shortage of classrooms,” Smyth said. “This would unite the campus.”

If the proposal goes through, Townsend Hall along with Parker Hall will be transformed into classrooms devoted to the School of Social Work.

This proposal comes after UB recently rejected a lawmakers’ proposal for UB’s Law School to move into the Michael J. Dillon Memorial U.S. Courthouse in downtown Buffalo, which is currently vacant.

UB said in a statement that the university “has no plans to move the UB Law School from North Campus. Isolating the UB Law School off-campus, away from UB’s other professional schools, is neither academically nor economically sound.”

Smyth said responses from faculty and students regarding the possible change of campus have been mixed. While some believe the change will be a good way in order to increase space for the school, some are concerned with how safe the campus will be, as the University Heights neighborhood around South Campus has high crime rates.

Although Smyth said she does not believe this is an issue that will pose problems, it is something that will be looked into and taken seriously.

Bork said her biggest concern is dealing with the drive to South Campus. For her, she said, driving to North Campus is more convenient.

“Driving to South Campus is just super annoying. There’s so many lights and so much traffic,” Bork said.

Jaekyung Lee, Dean of the School of Education, said he does not know details yet, including when the move will happen and the costs. But he did say he believes the potential move will benefit students.

“I expect that relocation will help address [the] crowding issue in the Baldy Hall and provide faculty and students with more adequate classroom and lab spaces,” Lee said in an email.

Both Smyth and Lee said they think the move will help bring more opportunities to the schools by being more immersed in Buffalo. Lee said the potential move would allow “educational innovations and engagement with the community and schools in [the] Buffalo area.”

Smyth said while the reactions from student and faculty have been mixed, many say they are excited that the schools would be “embedded into the community.”

“Out in Amherst we are in the community but not in the way we would be if we were on the South Campus,” Smyth said. “We like being closely tied to the community.”

Marlee Tuskes is a news desk editor and can be reached at marlee.tuskes@ubspectrum.com. Follow her on Twitter at @marleetuskes5.