In early 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul named the University at Buffalo one of two flagship universities in the state — along with SUNY Stony Brook — and challenged it to reach $1 billion in funding from research by 2030.
In his State of the University address on Friday, UB President Satish K. Tripathi said the university is on track to achieve this goal and many others, including becoming the a top 25 public research university and achieving carbon neutrality ahead of its 2030 goal.
“I would say the Flagship designation put the wind in our sails because it underscores UB’s reputation as a premier public research university,” Tripathi told a packed auditorium at Slee Hall on North Campus. ‘UB.
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Tripathi used his annual address to highlight several UB firsts, describe the university’s impact on the wider community and region, and highlight UB’s achievements in promoting sustainability, excellence, diversity and social justice, and to foster the entrepreneurship that fuels the growing economy of Western New York.
The former included the $200 million overrun in federal research spending — which rose 7% over the past year, Tripathi said. He challenged the university community to double its spending on federal grants per year to $400 million by 2030.
UB’s Office of Business and Entrepreneurial Partnerships has reached the milestone of supporting some 200 startups that have raised $327 million and created more than 2,500 jobs. More than 24,000 UB students have been involved in entrepreneurial programs like UB’s Blackstone LaunchPad and the new Cultivator program, which invests in UB start-ups and mentors their founders, Tripathi said.
When Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Western New York to promote the Biden administration’s recently passed Cut Inflation Act, she chose to do so at a flagship SUNY university that is at the forefront of climate change research and sustainability practices.
The university also hosted its first visit from a US Vice President when Kamala Harris chose UB as the stage to highlight new health and climate change legislation due to its contributions to fighting climate change. and sustainability, Tripathi said.
“At UB, we don’t just study the climate, we model the most sustainable practices,” he said. “From our green buildings to our popular bike share program, to our law school’s environmental justice clinic, to our recently completed solar shutters that offset the energy use of 2,000 homes per year, we are internationally recognized for our climate action.”
UB has also received state, federal and foundation grants to pursue its research and education missions, including $102 million pledged by Hochul to build a new center for its engineering school, $600,000 from the NASA to develop a spacecraft that could explore Venus and the lead role in a $10 million National Science Foundation project to develop and maintain advanced supercomputing infrastructure.
UB has also received recognition for its faculty and students. More than 20 UB faculty have received top awards in their fields over the past year, and nine have been promoted to Distinguished Professor by SUNY.
Tripathi said the university welcomed 130 new faculty members this year and received $12 million from New York State to recruit 70 more in addition to its regular annual hiring.
It has also achieved greater diversity. “In fact, from 2019 to this year, the percentage of faculty hires from underrepresented minorities has increased from less than 10% to almost 35%,” he said, adding that he is committed to doubling the number of faculty from historically underrepresented minorities by 2025.
UB has enrolled over 32,000 students from over 100 countries, including 1,500 at partner institutions in Singapore. Many have won major awards, fellowships and research grants, and one of them, Dr. Aaron Epstein, a resident at UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, won the civilian equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his work training combat care in war zones, most recently in Ukraine.
Tripathi said UB will invest $1 million next year in a new graduate scholarship that will award scholarships to top doctoral students for their academic pursuits.
UB students and faculty are also driving economic vitality across WNY and beyond, Tripathi said, with some of their startups enjoying “historic success.”
He cited startup UB Garwood Medical, which raised $14 million for a medical device to help hip replacement patients avoid infections and received “breakthrough” status from the FDA.
The University at Buffalo and the UBMD Group of Physicians have launched a Long Covid Registry, a questionnaire open to adults in Western New York who have, or think they have, Long Covid.
UB’s partner company, POP Biotechnologies, has launched the first-of-its-kind antibody test to detect immunity to Covid-19, and is currently working to develop a platform for the delivery of cancer vaccines.
In addition to contributing inventions, research, businesses and investments, UB also works to advance social justice, equity and access, Tripathi said. With a new scholarship, UB will serve as an academic sanctuary for “scholars facing threats to their life, liberty, and well-being,” he said.
Over the past academic year, UB has partnered with Kaleida Health and Mission Ignite to “bridge the city’s digital divide” by providing free Wi-Fi to more than 100 homes in the low-income Fruit Belt neighborhood. in Buffalo.
UB already has a student-run program that wraps up food scraps from dining halls to donate to area nonprofits, a project that trains formerly homeless people for food handling jobs, and a urban planning effort to make improvements to the intersection of Broadway and Fillmore Avenue on Buffalo’s East Side.
Tripathi said his future challenges include raising UB’s sophomore retention rate to over 90% and helping students ensure they “don’t fall through the cracks.” He said Hochul has earmarked $1.7 million to help UB improve student success through new initiatives in the near future.