The University at Buffalo will lead the fight against diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis, while helping to frame the national conversation about the value and relevance of higher education, UB President Satish K. Tripathi said Friday in his annual state of the university talk.
In a 40-minute address, Tripathi presented a relentlessly upbeat portrait of a university on the rise in national rankings and in other measures, such as:
• Growth in federal research expenditures, from $156 million per year to $184 million;
• A steep rise in scholarly citations;
• More graduate degrees earned;
• More awards for student academic performance, including eight National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships, the most ever in one year at UB and more than the total awarded to all other State University of New York campuses combined; and,
• A dramatic increase in four-year graduation rates from 35 percent in 2005 to 55 percent in 2015.
Tripathi credited the launch of UB2020 more than a decade ago for “setting in motion an institutional transformation that continues today.”
Tripathi, who is in his fifth year as president of the largest institution in the SUNY system, said that alumni visiting for homecoming weekend often tell him “they are amazed by how much has changed since their student days, but they are just as excited by what has not changed – the UB spirit they know and love.”
Several hundred members of the university community, along with area political leaders such as Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown and state Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, were on hand for the talk inside the Student Union Theater on UB’s North Campus. Tripathi did not announce any new initiatives, and he emphasized positive developments at the university.
His only reference to any potential obstacles came near the end of the speech, when he mentioned that “like all public universities, UB continues to be challenged by a nationwide trend of declining state support in the face of growing public need. At the same time the national narrative about the cost and value of higher education has shifted dramatically.”
Last year during his state of the university address, about two dozen UB students walked out in a silent protest that stemmed from the posting of racially-charged signs on campus and the university’s response to the incident. There were no such protests on Friday.
Tripathi said he believes UB can and will “lead the way” in discussions about the value of higher education, “with the liberal arts occupying a central place in preparing an educated and socially minded citizenry.”
And with a thriving new medical campus, he said, the university will be a leader in fighting cancer and M.S. and “preventing future health risks we can only imagine.”