Published August 30, 2012
As about 29,000 students arrived at UB this week for the start of the fall semester, 85 new faculty members—more than 50 of them in tenure-track positions—also joined the UB community, undergoing orientation, meeting new colleagues and learning about the university.
For some of the new faculty hires, their arrival at UB was made possible in large part by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NYSUNY 2020 bill, which became law last year. Over the next five years, the university plans to hire a total of 250 to 300 faculty members using revenues generated by the bill.
In addition to providing resources to move the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to the downtown Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, NYSUNY 2020 is enabling the university to advance key components of the UB 2020 plan for academic excellence: building new educational and research facilities, expanding course offerings and academic support for students, hiring new faculty across the disciplines and commercializing faculty research.
“UB now, for the first time in its history as a public institution, has the ability to plan on a five-year horizon, which is transforming the way we plan for our collective future,” said President Satish K. Tripathi. “And we are already putting these plans into action.”
About half of this year’s new faculty members attended an orientation program last week designed to acclimate them to the university and familiarize them with Tripathi’s vision for the future. Among the presenters at the orientation was Charles “Chip” Zukoski, UB’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Zukoski also is new to the university, having arrived at UB in June from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“You and I are joining the University at Buffalo at a watershed moment, catalyzed by our strategic plan, UB 2020,” Zukoski told the new faculty at orientation. “UB is already a strong institution. It is now on the verge of even greater national and international impact, and your cohort of fellow new faculty will set the tone for where—and what—UB will be in 30 years.”
Among the 85 new faculty arrivals, 23 are within the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 21 joined the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and 17 are within the College of Arts and Sciences. The others are spread out across the university’s schools of management, dental medicine, graduate education, nursing, law, social work, architecture, pharmacy and public health, as well as the University Libraries. Their academic disciplines include anthropology, biochemistry, communication, computer science, economics, English, finance, geography, history, media study, neurology, political science, psychology and physics.
Gil I. Wolfe, Irvin and Rosemary Smith Professor and chair of the Department of Neurology/Jacobs Neurological Institute, came to UB last winter from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. “Once I met the medical school leadership and faculty, heard their vision for the future and appreciated the unique era of growth commencing on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, my initial hesitancy about relocation to Buffalo was reversed and I was very excited by the prospect.” he said.
Other noteworthy faculty who are joining UB from faculty positions at other universities are Korydon H. Smith, hired with tenure in the Department of Architecture, who studies the role of housing design among marginalized groups of American society; Marla Segol, Department of English and Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage, who studies medieval Judaism, Kabbalah and gender and Judaism; Geoffrey Jacquez, hired with tenure in the Department of Geography, who is developing applications of geographic information science for public health; and Martica Bacallao, School of Social Work, who studies culturally competent mental health practices and Latino youth and families.
Several of the new faculty members are NSF CAREER-award winners who are “the rising stars in their fields,” said Lucinda Finley, vice provost for faculty affairs and the organizer of the two-day, new faculty orientation.
“It’s just a stellar group,” she said. “These new faculty members are extraordinary; they come from leading universities around the world.”
Lukasz Ziarek, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, came to UB after earning a doctorate from Purdue University because he was impressed with UB’s faculty and saw many opportunities for research collaboration. In fact, even before he arrived on campus, he began collaborating with UB faculty member Bharat Jayaraman on ways to better visualize safety-critical systems, including transportation.
Several of the new hires have previous connections to Western New York: Jacob Kathman, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, is a native of Jamestown; he studies international relations and comparative politics. Silvia Lloyd, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Library and Information Studies, is a native Buffalonian; she is returning to the region after supervising libraries in Rochester and the Bronx.
With the impact of new faculty and other key initiatives moving forward, Tripathi said, even in this time of nationwide economic challenges, UB and Buffalo are experiencing a period of “unprecedented opportunity.”
In addition to the NYSUNY 2020 legislation, Cuomo has made other historic investments in the region. The state awarded more than $100 million to implement the plan proposed by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, led by Tripathi and business leader Howard Zemsky, and the governor pledged $1 billion to invest in Buffalo’s economic future.