Published April 30, 2018
UB launches a fundraising campaign today that is the largest in university history and the largest in the history of SUNY.
“Boldly Buffalo: The Campaign for UB” seeks to raise $650 million to deliver transformative changes for the public research university, Western New York and the world, according to President Satish K. Tripathi.
“Our historic campaign is taking place during an incredible regional renaissance — truly one of the boldest periods in the history of UB and the city of Buffalo,” said Tripathi. “With this campaign, we affirm our commitment to an even brighter future here and around the globe. As we look forward and consider our shared aspirations for UB and our students, we recognize inspiring generous support from our alumni, friends and community members is essential to helping us secure our vision.”
“Our Boldly Buffalo campaign will amplify UB’s mission of transforming ambitious, dedicated students into thoughtful leaders and change-makers who have an immeasurable impact on our region and the world,” he added. “It will further the work of our award-winning faculty, whose research discoveries made here in Buffalo will help millions of local and global citizens improve their environments, their health, their prosperity and their communities.”
Rodney M. Grabowski, vice president for university advancement, said the university already has secured more than $451 million through the campaign, and propelled improvements across the university.
“Boldly Buffalo is a campaign about impact, and it already has begun to benefit our students and faculty, our region and our world,” Grabowski said. “Gifts from generous alumni and donors have to date funded 109 scholarships and fellowships, and established 13 endowed chair and professor positions.”
One of these positions is the Peter A. Nickerson, PhD, Professor and Chair in the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences, established by the beloved longtime UB professor who died in 2017 and left a $4.5 million bequest to the Jacob School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Through campaign gifts, UB has constructed new buildings, including the downtown home of the Jacobs School — named to honor the Jeremy M. Jacobs family for lifetime giving and contributions to the university, including their historic $30 million campaign gift — and created new centers, such as the Stephen Still Institute for Sustainable Transportation and Logistics in the schools of Management and Engineering and Applied Sciences, established through engineering alumnus Still’s $4 million gift last fall.
“This ongoing effort truly is transformational for the university,” Grabowski said.
Noting that nearly 61,000 donors have made 160,000 gifts to the campaign thus far — ranging in size from $1 to more than $30 million — he emphasized that “each is as important as the next because they combine to make a tremendous impact.”
A total of 10,505 alumni made ther first gifts to UB. And more than 100 donors have pledged gifts of $1 million or more, “including several that came in this week as we prepared to make this historic announcement,” Grabowski said.
Saraswati and Om Bahethi made one of those gifts, giving $1 million to the UB physics department for student scholarships.
In 1967, Om Bahethi traveled to UB from Jodhpur, India, to pursue a PhD. He arrived with $7 in his pocket, three weeks into the fall semester. He had been hired to teach a class and, having arrived late, was afraid he wouldn’t receive the teaching stipend, leaving him with no income. But UB’s international student office hired an instructor to temporarily teach the class until Om reached Buffalo, and had his stipend waiting for him, a gesture Om said he has never forgotten.
Today, Om Bahethi is chairman of SSAI, which provides scientific and technical support services to federal science agencies including NASA, the NOAA, USDA and many others. His wife, Saraswati Bahethi, is SSAI’s corporate secretary and treasurer.
“We would not have a successful business today without the education and training I received at the University at Buffalo,” Bahethi said.
Gifts like these are what Boldly Buffalo is all about, Grabowski said.
“With this campaign we are encouraging our alumni and friends to think boldly, to act boldly, and to be inspired by what UB can accomplish with their active support and investment,” Grabowski said. ”There is so much at the university that engenders pride. The campaign will help us tell that story.”
Peggy and Jeremy Jacobs, a UB alumnus, are the honorary campaign co-chairs. Jeremy Jacobs has been chair and trustee of the UB Foundation, and chair of the UB Council since 1998. The couple and their family are the university’s largest donors.
“UB feeds Buffalo’s highly skilled workforce, it is the regional hub of artistic and cultural expression, and it is the engine of Buffalo’s thriving medical industry,” Jacobs said. “With this campaign, we have the opportunity to further magnify the university’s impact on Buffalo.”
The campaign launches publicly at a time of great momentum for the university. This year, in U.S. News and World Report, UB achieved its highest ranking ever among the nation’s best public national universities, at number 41. And, in the category of the nation’s best universities — public and private — UB has risen 24 spots over the past decade, more than any institution in the Association of American Universities.
UB students have won top academic awards in recent years, including Truman, Goldwater, Marshall and Udall scholarships; National Science Foundation fellowships; Fulbright awards; and the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
Several UB faculty have received prestigious awards of late, including membership to the National Academy of Engineering; a career award from the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics; and a National Science Foundation career award, one of the highest honors NSF offers to early-career faculty.
Campaign co-chairs Dan and Gail Alexander of Canandaigua, N.Y., are UB graduates who met as students, then married after Dan left the university at age 20 to become Buffalo’s youngest firefighter. After treating an injured man who urged him to become a doctor, Dan decided to return to UB, where he finished a BA and a medical degree. He went on to become an orthopedic surgeon while Gail, who graduated from UB with a finance degree, became his practice’s manager. The Alexanders gave $1 million to establish scholarships for Buffalo public school graduates and others who hope to attend medical school.
“Receiving the letter of acceptance from the Jacobs School changed my life,” Alexander said. “That’s why Gail and I gave to establish scholarships, particularly for students who couldn’t otherwise afford to attend medical school. Our hope is that the scholarships will attract inner-city kids — such as those from my alma mater, Hutch Tech — who want to become caring, compassionate physicians.”
More than 60 university alumni, friends and supporters are serving as UB campaign volunteers, actively partnering with the university to achieve the campaign’s bold and ambitious goals. They hail from across the country — from San Diego to Washington, D.C. — adding a national perspective to the campaign. A complete list of volunteers is available online.
In addition to student scholarships, campaign funds will be used to increase the number and quality of experiential learning opportunities — including study-abroad programs, internships and externships — so students can develop beyond the classroom. Gifts also will be put toward building new facilities and modernizing existing structures where students learn and interact, and will support faculty research and the creation of more endowed faculty positions to attract top professors and researchers to UB.
The campaign is the ninth in UB’s 172-year history.