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INSIDE UB

The main sponsors of the University at Buffalo's Distinguished Speakers Series say they would welcome an appearance by former President Bill Clinton as part of the lecture series.

"I think it's a good idea, if you can get the details together and find out how much it's going to cost," Donald L. Davis, the retired owner of Don Davis Auto World, said this week.

"I myself had no objection to it," said Esther Davis, his wife. The Davises are the primary backers of the speakers series and have donated more than $1 million to UB.

A small campus controversy flared two weeks ago when student leaders told The Buffalo News that university officials didn't want to invite Clinton to be part of the series.

The Student Association president and vice president said top UB officials deemed Clinton "too controversial" to speak.

UB officials said Clinton wasn't invited to speak this school year because they'd prefer to have him speak closer to the 2004 presidential election, when his fee might be lower.

Davis said university officials always inform him of the slate of speakers ahead of time, though he has never vetoed a selected speaker.

He said he informally discussed with university organizers the possibility of inviting Clinton, and he agrees with UB officials that 2004 might be better -- and cheaper.

However, a spokeswoman for the former president said Clinton would consider waiving his fee -- reported to be $125,000 -- to speak at UB this semester.

UB President William R. Greiner responded to this overture by saying he will extend a formal invitation to Clinton.

Where there's a Bill, there's a way, it seems.

UB on Thursday kicked off its 2001 State Employees Federated Appeal, a fund-raising campaign by state agencies and institutions that benefits local United Way chapters.

UB ranked second in the nation last year among colleges and universities in total money contributed to the United Way -- $763,247.
e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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