UB President Satish Tripathi discusses UB 2020 in State of the University Address

Tripathi highlights UB as No. 31 research university, students protest climate change

state-address

UB President Satish Tripathi delivered his eighth annual State of the University address in the Student Union Theater Friday.

Tripathi discussed UB 2020, UB’s carbon footprint, research advancements and UB’s increased ranking as the No. 31 best public research university in front of roughly 350 students, faculty and community members. Tripathi also spoke briefly about the Ph.D. Excellence Initiative after the address. During the address, roughly six students protested the UB Foundation’s history of investing in the fossil fuel industry in the SU lobby.

During the speech, Tripathi reiterated that UB 2020, an initiative that began in 2004, was “never about a date on the calendar,” rather focusing on research and academic excellence to increase UB’s rank as a research university. He said since the initiative began, UB has designed an “innovative, student-centered” UB curriculum, enhanced the Honors College, increased global education, internships, entrepreneurial and clinical opportunities and launched ‘Finish in Four’ to ensure students graduate on time. Since 2004, the four-year graduation rate has almost doubled from 35% to 60%, according to Tripathi.

 Tripathi said he hopes, in the next decade, UB will rise from the No. 31 to No. 25 public research university in the nation.

 “For that, we need to get the best faculty and retain them,” Tripathi said. “We need to get the best students, graduate them on time and get them recognized nationally, for us really to make an impact in the society we live in.”

 In the last year, faculty members won 11 CAREER awards, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for early-career “teacher-scholars” and 77 faculty members are currently appointed to SUNY’s distinguished ranks, the highest in the system.

 Tripathi discussed UB’s leadership in environmental responsibility and climate change.

 “We are taking clear action to decrease our own carbon footprint,” Tripathi said. “More than a decade ago, UB was among the charter signatories on the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.” 

 He said the commitment puts UB on the path to “carbon neutrality” by 2030 and that UB plans to install solar panels on all three campuses by the end of 2020.

 While Tripathi discussed the university’s environmental progress, six students protested against the UB Foundation’s history of investing in the fossil fuel industry in the SU. The students walked in at the end of the reception hoping Tripathi would hear them.

 “We’re trying to get President Tripathi, who is an executive committee member of the UB Foundation, along with the rest of the UB Foundation, to commit to divesting from these companies and investing somewhere else,” sophomore economics major Brandon Hoolihan said.

 Tripathi said in the speech that UB is ranked third for climate action out of 250 universities worldwide, taking into account UB’s efforts to incorporate sustainability into all courses across the curriculum, along with plans to introduce a car-sharing program for staff and students. 

 Tripathi also briefly discussed the provost’s increased funding for Ph.D. student stipends for 2020-21, which he said provides deans with “more time” to discuss the future of Ph.D. programs with their departments. 

Tripathi says he hopes to keep improving UB’s ranking but could not be more proud of what the campus has become.

“Today, when I look across the university, I see an institution transformed,” Tripathi said.

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