Of all the duties I have as president of UB, one of my favorites is welcoming new students to campus at the beginning of the school year. This fall we anticipate to continue as a vibrant global community: domestic U.S. students will make up about 75 percent of our classes, while 25 percent of students will come from more than 80 countries around the world.
Our diversity is just one reason UB is unique—and enviable. Colleges and universities across the U.S. now devote much energy to attracting students of different backgrounds. With good reason: we live in an increasingly complex and international world. It’s no longer enough to know a second language; today’s young citizens must be “fluent” global citizens, able to collaborate with people from vastly different backgrounds, faiths, and political cultures. Only then can they bridge differences and build trust needed to solve our most pressing problems—which are increasingly transnational—from tackling global debt crises to finding solutions to environmental issues to brokering peace in places of seemingly intractable conflict.
This kind of global fluency only comes from the kind of face-to-face experiences that are so abundant at UB. As I watch freshmen introduce themselves during the New Students Barbeque each year, I can’t help wondering what these new friendships will yield: a new interest in other cultures? Collaborative research with a classmate who grew up halfway around the world? Perhaps it will be the start of a long-standing friendship that matures into an important professional partnership that spans years and miles. As many of our alumni can attest, UB’s campus is an immediate, accessible gateway to a world of possibility, and students enter it the moment they arrive on campus.
This gateway reflects our mission to get students into the real world as quickly and often as possible. Yes, important learning takes place in the classroom, under the guidance of our dedicated faculty, but UB is an institution that defies traditional walls. As you’ll read throughout this issue, our students have myriad opportunities to enhance their formal learning through paid internships, work-study jobs, research, and travel, and they’re encouraged to pursue them. Consider undergraduates like Tasnah Moyer and Rebecca Ward from the International College. They both won highly competitive Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. State Department, and as I write this, they are in the Middle East and Asia taking immersion courses in Arabic and Korean. Meanwhile, a group of our interior design students from Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD) devoted their class project to helping Bridgeport Library redesign itself so it better serves its 500,000 patrons a year. Other SASD students spent the summer creating products for top companies like Safety First and Disney. At the same time, working professionals turn to UB time and time again to hone their skills and remain as competitive as possible. This summer, for example, we opened our new Human Anatomy Lab to professionals working in the field of allied health care so they could gain a deeper knowledge about how the body works. This innovative workshop, described in this issue, is just one of many opportunities UB provides to students and the larger community throughout the year. The gateway to a world of possibility remains open to all.