Thursday, September 8, 2011

Profile: University at Buffalo

Established in 1846, University at Buffalo, which is often referred to as UB, is a public research university and a flagship university of the State University of New York (SUNY) system.  Having multiple campuses and offering 84 bachelor’s, 184 masters, and 78 doctoral degrees, it is the largest of the four comprehensive university centers within the SUNY system.  UB is also considered the largest public university in the northeastern United States (comprising New York and the New England region).

The campuses are broken into North Campus and South Campus.  South Campus is much smaller than North Campus and is generally a medical campus.  The South Campus is also home of the WBFO radio station.  Even though most of the classes and activity occurs on the North Campus, about 20% of UB’s resident population continues to live in the original complexes located on the South Campus.
In 2004, President John B. Simpson created a massive strategic planning initiative called 2020.  Some of the goals are to add approximately 10,000 more students, 750 faculty members, and 600 staff members.  The strategic plan also recognizes the university’s contribution to the surrounding region, since most recent estimates report UB brings $1.5 billion into the local economy.
After having only been here a little over a week, I’m quickly learning how to get around the area.  The campus is very large! I’m not very impressed with it in terms of infrastructure or parking. Actually, the parking situation is nuts! I guess it’s not that much crazier than when I was in school, but I often times didn’t have to drive to campus and find parking in the middle of prime class hours—so maybe that has something to do with it. I was tempted to pull out my Penn State Faculty/Staff parking permit, hang it from my rear view mirror, and park in the faculty/staff lot, as if I were a special visitor. I would take the risk of getting a ticket if I believed even faculty and staff members have good parking available. It’s just crazy. 
In my opinion, the student culture here is much different than what I have been privileged to experience as an undergraduate.  One major way that it differs is that student organizations don’t seem to work together much; it seems more like one against the world.  I don’t think that was the case at Penn State Behrend -- most groups had members in other organizations and those in fraternity/sorority life were involved in many other groups.  The student life was pretty good at Behrend; it was -- and felt like -- an actual community. Perhaps the disconnect at UB stems from the large size of the school and the two campuses. Or maybe it is because they don't share a common pride for something.  From what I’ve heard, football games aren’t that big of a deal (and when you have a Division 1 team, they should be). I can’t put my finger on it, but I just thought I would see more happenings around campus considering the large amount of students here and the start of an exciting school year. Who knows... different folks, different strokes.
Like I said, Buffalo does have a Division 1 football team, which is exciting!  The Buffalo Bulls played (and lost to) the Pitt Panthers this past weekend, unfortunately at Heinz Field, but they will be hosting the UConn Huskies while I’m still here. I think it would be fun to go to a football game, even though the students say that football isn’t really taken seriously here.  But I would still like to experience it and see what all the fuss isn't about. So we’ll see what will shake out.
Oh, and University at Buffalo’s colors are blue and white. Awe.

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