The University at Buffalo will “stay the course,” its president said Friday.
“Clearly, our guiding principles steered us well,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi, noting they have guided UB for more than a decade and pushed it up the rankings among the nation’s public research universities. “So, as we look to the future, we will stay the course.”
“We know we are on the right course,” he said during his eighth annual state of the university address. “We know it by our research and scholarship. We know it by our student outcomes. And we see it reflected in our institutional ranking.”
That was the upshot of Tripathi’s upbeat message to several hundred members of the UB community, as well as local officials, including Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
Tripathi – in a 45-minute speech at the North Campus in Amherst – provided a look back at the university from more than a decade ago when it chartered a course for where it wanted to be by the year 2020.
That “UB 2020” strategic plan set out with a goal of turning a “very good institution” into a top public research university.
“Today, we are,” Tripathi said.
He pointed to:
• A rise in research expenditures.
• A rise in the four-year graduation rate: The four-year graduation rate at UB is at 60 percent today, compared with 35 percent during the early days of UB 2020.
• Interest in enrolling at UB: The university received 31,000 applications for freshman admission last year – the most ever.
• UB’s rise in the college rankings: UB ranked No. 31, its all-time high, among public universities in the nation on the latest list of “Best Colleges” from the U.S. News & World Report.
The UB president on Friday set a new goal for the university: to rank among the Top 25 public research universities in the nation within the next decade.
Tripathi said the university will continue to hone how it articulates its goals during this next phase, but said UB 2020 has provided a good template.
“UB 2020 was not about a date on the calendar,” he said. “It was never about a fixed point in time. It was about keeping our sights set on our goals."
There will be challenges, he said.
State dollars, for example, have remained flat for higher education. And colleges and universities are all competing for the best students, while the number of high school graduates has continued to slide across the Northeast.
As for research, UB ranked No. 59 in total research and development expenditures among both public and private universities in the United States, according to the most recent figures from the National Science Foundation. Among public universities, UB ranked No. 37 in 2017 with $401 million, according to the foundation.
The average among the Top 25 public universities was $879 million.
“To be sure, a Top 25 ambition is a bold ambition,” Tripathi said. “But it is an achievable ambition.”