Campus News

Hundreds turn out at Buffalo stop on Tripathi's UB 2020 alumni tour

alumni tour

President Satish K. Tripathi and his wife, Kamlesh, talk to Joseph S. Testa, a 1957 graduate of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and his wife, Mary Ann, at the Hotel Lafayette. Photo: JOE CASCIO

By MARY COCHRANE

Published September 10, 2012

Now at the halfway point of his global “20 Cities in 20 Months” UB 2020 tour, President Satish K. Tripathi on Thursday brought the enterprise home to Buffalo for its 12th stop—at the newly restored Hotel Lafayette downtown, where he mingled with 600 university alumni, faculty, staff and friends.

An abundance of UB blue-and-white banners and décor transformed the historic setting into a kind of university pep rally, complete with pompom-waving UB cheerleaders at the hotel entrance, greeting and opening doors for arriving guests.

Inside, more UB students welcomed attendees at the check-in tables and throughout the elegant first-floor spaces, including the stunning Marquis de Lafayette grand ballroom, where the crowd listened to the president speak about the latest developments at UB.

In addition to new structures on all three campuses—including the William R. Greiner Residence Hall on the North Campus; the Clinical and Translational Research Center, set to officially open downtown on Sept. 20; and Kapoor Hall, the new home of the pharmacy school on the South Campus that will celebrate its grand opening on Sept 28—Tripathi emphasized how internal additions are improving UB, particularly the recent hiring of 85 expert faculty members, all ranked “at the top of their fields.”

With a global network of 220,000 UB alumni in 130 countries, Tripathi pointed out that those present and all 66,500 alumni who live in the Western New York region have the advantage of being able to drop by for a visit next time they are near one of the campuses.

He encouraged all alumni to get involved with UB, to share their ideas with him and to give in support of the university.

“You play a key role in providing opportunities to the students of today and tomorrow—and in helping UB advance the public good, here in Western New York and around the world. UB would not be the great institution we are today without your support,” he said.

While many alumni said they attended the program to hear what UB’s 15th president has planned for their alma mater, several—including James Lenker, BS ’97 & PhD ’05—admitted they also were on hand to see the Hotel Lafayette renovation.

“As a grad and as a current UB employee, I’m curious to hear the president’s message to the outside world,” said Lenker, associate professor of rehabilitation science in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Paul Synor, MSW ’69, came to “hear about the state of the university, especially about the medical corridor and the athletics program—and to see the hotel.” His wife, Mary Synor, who works at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, called UB’s plan to relocate its medical school downtown “just fabulous.”

Michael Zionts, MD ’98, a member of the Medical Alumni Association Governing Board, said he attended “to hear about the president’s vision for the whole university.”

Brian Melber, JD ’96, president of the Law Alumni Association, said he came to the event because “I’d like to get some insight into what’s coming next for UB.

“I support Satish and think he’s doing a great job,” Melber said, adding that the event also gave him a chance to assess the Lafayette for future law alumni events.

Lynn Oswald, BS ’85 & MBA ’99, said: “It’s wonderful to see how many people are here.”

Jordan Walbesser, BS ’07 & JD ’10, who works in the intellectual property area at Hodgson Russ, was “excited to hear the president,” as was Fred Brace, BA ’68, president of the University Heights Community Development Board, who said “I’m hoping he reaches out to the community.”

Longtime UB supporter Edmond Gicewicz, BA ’52 & MD ’56, said he came to hear the president report “where the school is and where it’s going, and report on the bigger projects like the new medical school.” His wife, Connie, also wanted to see the Lafayette Hotel. When they were younger, she said, “we used to party hard in here.”

Now at the one-year mark, the tour already has taken Tripathi to 11 cities throughout the U.S. and overseas, including Beijing, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The tour stops at the Finger Lakes on Sept. 30 before continuing on to Boston on Oct. 18. Visit the tour’s website for a complete schedule.