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Simpson shares concerns about UB2020

(03/26/10 4:00am)

Although the UB 2020 plan is still in the works, its future looks bleak due to the New York State budget cuts, President Simpson told UB Council members on Monday. UB 2020 offers hope to the Buffalo region and will bring about an increase in jobs in all sectors, Simpson explained, but it is not guaranteed. "UB 2020 is further away today than it has been before," Simpson said. "If we maintain the status quo, [that's] a recipe for disaster." Simpson said that UB 2020 will require funding from the state and from money to be earned by the university – both of which are currently limited. He added that the state has cut UB's funding and constantly pursues outdated policies that prevent the university from improving its revenues. Simpson explained that much of the debate in Albany centers on the issue of tuition and who gets to govern it. He added that public education should be affordable. "We have to ensure that we are able to apply as a public university that is of the highest quality," Simpson said. Although the magnitude of the cuts at UB have been subtle and not as catastrophic as expected, Simpson pointed out that UB may not be able to handle the more severe cuts that it will have in the future. Student representative John Martin shares Simpson's concerns. "Students are really starting to feel the cuts," Martin said. The UB Council also approved the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, a plan intended to strengthen public higher education in New York State and provide a much-needed boost to the state's struggling economy. Through the act, investments in SUNY public research universities like UB will help renew the economies of various New York regions. Simpson is confident that Western New York residents will continue to support and invest in UB, calling them a "beacon of hope" for the university. E-mail: news@ubspectrum.com


Changing role

(03/17/10 4:00am)

After five years of serving as the vice provost and dean of undergraduate education at UB, Michael E. Ryan is stepping down and will begin his new role as the director of university accreditation and assessment on June 1. An internal search will be conducted for Ryan's successor as vice provost. Ryan will be involved in preparing self-study materials for the review of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a department of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region. This position is typically granted to a senior official with extensive experience in university education. This accreditation is essential, as it determines whether or not institutions are meeting fundamental academic standards. UB is beginning the extensive process of reaffirming its own decennial accreditation, which will expire in 2013-14. The reaffirmation process involves making a self-study report in which the university summarizes its institutional goals and the steps it has taken to reach them. "The accreditation process is an opportunity for us to examine our goals and objectives – whether we are meeting them or falling short," Ryan said. Ryan believes he is prepared to handle the responsibilities that go along with this process. "I have a broad knowledge of university programs and of the accreditation process," Ryan said. "I've been an evaluator for the Middle States. I've been on the other side." Provost Satish Tripathi, who initially announced Ryan's new position, agrees that he is well qualified for it. "As an external reviewer for Middle States, Professor Ryan has a unique perspective on the reaccreditation process," Tripathi said. "He knows the process well, and the key areas that Middle States focuses on in terms of institutional review, specifically institutional assessment and student learning assessment and outcomes." Tripathi added that Ryan's earlier experience as a UB faculty member helps him to understand the standards that the university needs to reach. "His understanding of the entire university enterprise and the undergraduate experience, as well as his first-hand knowledge of faculty research and creative activities, make him ideally suited to lead this critically important institutional endeavor," Tripathi said. Ryan has been on the UB faculty since 1976. He has served as the associate dean for student services in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the director of the Business-Industry Affiliates Program in the New York State Center for Hazardous Waste before he was promoted to vice provost and dean of undergraduate education in 2005. Ryan has grown in his appreciation for UB over the years and believes that there are many factors that set it apart as an exceptional institution. "We're a selective research university. Our faculty [members] are engaged in exploration and discovery of knowledge. This benefits the undergraduates because the professors will bring this knowledge into the classroom," Ryan said. "Despite the [current] economic climate, we've managed to be successful and continue to move ourselves forward as an academic institution." Ryan considers his work at UB, especially the vice provost position, a learning experience. "The position has been a positive and rewarding experience," Ryan said. "The opportunity to serve at the university level has exposed me to a broader array of issues [and helped me to] understand the educational experience and the needs of students."