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Simpson Speechifies

STA_1385If you couldn’t get into your usual parking space at the Buffalo Club this morning, blame it on UB President John Simpson, who held his annual community address across the street at Babeville. I think I was the only sucker who put a quarter in a meter on the street. And I’m lucky I had a quarter, because the automated kiosk on Delaware Avenue was broken and wouldn’t accept credit or debit cards.

This year’s speech, “Buffalo-Niagara at a Crossroads,” riffs on themes borrowed from bluesman Robert Johnson and poet Robert Frost.

Teddy Roosevelt also received major props in the address, as Simpson reminded us, “If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk big; we must act big.” As in UB2020, get it?

Simpson also borrowed Roosevelt’s warning to skeptics: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Dust and sweat and blood, people. You can’t make this stuff up. He even threw in a reference to the Russians and Sputnik. But don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself by clicking here.

And for the heck of it, I’ll offer another Teddy Roosevelt quote, for your edification: “A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.”


  • Peter A Reese

    UB2020 is dead. RIP. John just can’t seem to get it. You cannot get public money without any plan or commitment to perform. Or without transparency and accountability. His deep seeded need to do everything in secret exposes a pathology that is truly frightening.

  • A_UB_Believer

    On the contrary, UB 2020 is alive and well. Look at the recent investments in downtown with the construction start on the Global Vascular Institute/Center for Translational Research, the progress underway at the new Downtown Gateway, or last Friday’s “groundbreaking” for Kapoor Hall (new home for the School of Pharmacy) on the South Campus in the City of Buffalo. These are just a few examples of both a plan and of commitment (from state capital dollars to significant philanthropic investment) from individuals and entities that recognize the great potential of UB 2020. It’s not John Simpson’s plan; it’s a plan developed by the faculty at UB that has become the community’s plan.

  • lawprof

    Nobody consulted with the law faculty on the plan to move the law school to south campus; we were simply told that’s where we’re going to be, if UB2020 ever comes to pass.

  • AnotherUBProf

    All the talk at UB is about hiring freezes, budget cuts, and permanent reductions in the size of departments and schools. So, the UB2020 propaganda is just that, propaganda. Simpson wants to Build a new campus, and lots of other stuff, but the money is not there and on campus we just see budget cuts.

    Simpson may build some new things on campus, but it will likely just be a campus full of empty offices and work stations (since the faculty and staff numbers are dwindling by design at UB, student numbers are flat too).

    It will be a problem for the next president to deal with. That is, how to justify 3 campuses with fewer students, faculty and staff.

    Simpson needs to take a tour of the departments on campus and have an honest discussion about where the next round of cuts will fall. My guess is that the next steps will involve mergers and consolidations of departments and entire schools to cut back on administrative overhead. The savings may keep the university afloat for a while.

    We all know the cuts will disproportionately hit the non-sciences and non-medical fields. That is where the hits have come since Simpson arrived. WNY residents, businesses, and students considering UB should be made aware of this. If you are not in these fields, UB should be off your list for recruiting employees, enrolling in college, or just looking for answers.

  • Peter A Reese

    Did anyone ever check to see if the resurgence of Seattle corresponded with Simpson leaving? Isn’t it nice to see that the UB is so political that professors are afraid to use their names when criticizing the place? Must be modeled on City Hall. And the Buffalo Club continues to be the center hub of everything despicable in WNY.

  • lawprof

    “UB is so political that professors are afraid to use their names when criticizing the place”? What does that mean? What does “political” have to do with it?

  • Peter A Reese

    Gee maybe “political” means that people are afraid to use their real names for fear of retaliation? Some purists might think this is a serious limit on academic discourse. I guess UB has given up on such antiquated concepts in order to better serve the needs of the local elite.

  • James Kistner

    With the defeat of UB 2020, the resignation of UB President John Simpson, and the general confusion about what comes now for the future of the University, one of this area’s largest employers, I thought a few words are required to mention some other casualties. If you were worried about the future, consider the present perspective for some students at UB.
    The planning that produced UB 2020, was largely a product of staff at UB who the President called upon to provide skilled guidance in the process of developing the University facilities. This was largely achieved through the use of School of Architecture, Department of Planning involvement. As of September 2, 2010 here is the list of major casualties: UB President Dr. J. Simpson resigned, Dean of the School of Architecture Dr. J. Carter resigned, Chair of the Department of Urban Planning Dr. N. Verma resigned (without notice), two professors (both brought into the department during Verma’s 3 year tenure) taking extended sabbatical s (one of these without notice). The acting chair of the planning department, a professor who is generally on time, cancels his presence at the first day of instruction on senior project preparation.
    Now picture that you are a student in the Urban Planning Department. With all the attention to UB 2020 the general public might not have remained aware the staff Simpson used to develop his failed new religion (‘believers’), actually had previously been hired to teach planning. So these student now have no president, no dean, no department chair, are educationally crippled by a shortage of instructor, many of who are effectively ‘running for the hills’. Alliances can be everything in higher education. Additionally, aside from educational and administrative continuity problems, the example of failure represented by the outcome of UB 2020, has not been a learning experience; rather it had always divided the Urban Planning Department.
    ‘Conducive to education’ , hardly. From the time 4 years ago when Dr. Verma was brought into the Chair position the catch word has been sickness and alienation. The incidence of Urban Planning students seeking mental health counseling at school clinics, has increased to many times the average in other departments school wide during his years of management. There were professors at the School of Urban Planning that refused to speak to Dr. Verma unless witnesses were present because Verma was notorious for telling lies. One professor lied to a student regarding a grade, and the action was later given Verma’s blessing. The Department was split virtually down the middle, by Verma’s positivist essential tension, versus the traditional humanists.
    If you were a humanist professor’s protégée, then Verma positivists professors gave you poor grades. The newest hires were consistently from the subcontinent, Verma’s neck of the woods, The latest, a precautionary principle disciple, as yet without his PhD., but tenure tracked never the less.
    If you were a professor, and you did not see eye to eye with the chair, well I know one professors that has not had any assigned a TA, a fresh rug, or a rotation onto the final senior project grading team, in too many years.
    If the passing of UB 2020, Simpson, Verma, Clark, or the others scattering to the hills, produces a better learning environment in this department, well, it should only have come sooner.

    Signed,
    Planning Student