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Simpson Quits

UB President John “Suitcase” Simpson is calling it quits after seven years in the position.

Not quite a year ago, he delivered a speech at Babeville quoting Teddy Roosevelt: ““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.”

So much for that, I guess.

In the interim, Scott Nostaja will be the SUNYAB president. Sure, why not, the guy’s been on the state payroll since July, let’s make him president.

The real paycheck for these guys doesn’t come from the state anyway, but from UB Foundation Activities, Inc.

Click here to read his farewell letter to UB Believers. “Thank you for helping to make the past seven years such richly rewarding ones.”

You can say that again.


  • Peter A Reese

    Best news today! We are free from a whiny, incompetent little weasel with a Napoleon complex. Hooray! Too bad he is staying until January.

  • Sad Grad

    Like the commander of a sleazy tourist ship, Cap’n John hits the lifeboats first. Simpson comes from money, breeding, and enlightenment and runs like a little mousey after a few rounds with Albany. Even George W. Bush held on to the last when he fought with Congress.

    Now about UB. This is a place that shafted the City of Buffalo in 1970, and will shaft it again under 2020 without adult supervision in Buffalo, Albany, and Washington. I’m just one of those doubters who sees a money blizzard for some that destroys low income housing, raises tuition, and does nothing to better the lot of Eastside residents. Unless education, research, and expansion are not tied to big bucks from which to skim, UB doesn’t get involved. What a wreck!

    The level of dysfunction in all of Buffalo’s institutions–even the retrenching Catholic Diocese–that it truly doesn’t have a prayer.

  • UBProfessor

    I have to agree that Simpson was all about show, marketing, and PR, with little substance. He played a shell game with campus resources and neglected academic programs. Not a surprise, since the bulk of his paycheck came from the UB Foundation (a nonprofit that has heavy banking and real estate development ties, and few educators on the board). So, Simpson tried to turn UB into a capital program for Buffalo at the cost of education for students. Lucky for us all that he failed to tax students for his plan to create building projects for his developer friends. It is a classic example of forgeting the core mission of the institution (education) and trying to use it to subsidize local developers.

    The sad thing is that Nostaja was given the keys to the shop for the time being. There is no reason to believe that he is qualified or capable of running a university. He is a Madison Av. PR guru with no educational experience. He holds no doctoral degree and has never set foot in a classroom or research lab. He is just another empty suit. Hopefully, the Nancy Z. will step in and fix this mess soon. Right now, UB is drifting without any direction.

    One other thing. The idea that UB shafted the City of Buffalo is foolish. The University is still heavily invested in the City. What would the alternative have been to bulldoze neighborhoods in order to expand UBs footprint? Or, to drain educational resources out of UB in order to prop up a failing downtown? What do people thing UB is, Bass Pro or the Chop House?

  • exUBprof998

    The glory depends upon whether the “dust and sweat and blood” on one’s clothes are one’s own. Perhaps those predominantly female professors, who were mysteriously denied promotion and tenure during this president’s stay, might have different takes on the “richly rewarding” recent past.

    So might the employees of the former School of Informatics, one of the first two so-named in America, which his administration dismantled. There are now about 25 iSchools in the US and Canada; the number is growing, and UB lost its lead. In this case, somebody’s “vision” was obviously myopic.

    Arguably, the major casualty at UB has been the concept of ‘faculty governance’ – the notion that scholars have a better idea of what to teach, and what topics to research, than do administrators. On this president’s watch, faculty spirit at UB declined to the point at which Faculty Senate, the university’s nominal academic governing body, contemplated drastically reducing its seats, because nobody showed up to meetings.

    Perhaps that’s a consequence of having a “strong-man”, instead of a first-among-equals, at the helm. To be generous, credit is due to Simpson for acknowledging, however unwittingly, that he had fallen short.

  • Sad Grad

    “One other thing. The idea that UB shafted the City of Buffalo is foolish. The University is still heavily invested in the City. What would the alternative have been to bulldoze neighborhoods in order to expand UBs footprint? Or, to drain educational resources out of UB in order to prop up a failing downtown? What do people thing UB is, Bass Pro or the Chop House?

    Comment by UBProfessor”

    Oh, I see. When UB built the Amherst Campus in a swamp and threw gasoline on urban sprawl, it was a good thing–promoting the general welfare. Just a nice, unwalkable suburban masterpiece crisscrossed by highways and even an Interstate. In the meantime, the South Campus and its neighborhoods languished. It’s also good that the UB Law school is nowhere near any of the major courthouses, with the exception of Amherst, just a short drive down Audubon. Good place to learn about the law if burned out headlights and shoplifting are your cup of tea.

    Sorry kids, but if you are in for a penny, you are in for a pound. UB uses the State pool of funds to subsidize tuition, so yes, everyone who pays NY taxes is a stakeholder. Bonds that pay for new UB projects are backed by the State’s credit rating and the State’s ability to tax in order to make payments. Without the double-edged “help” of the State, UB “just wouldn’t be.”

  • UBProfessor

    Cry me a river. The silly-talk that building the Amherst campus killed buffalo is about as crazy as Japanese fishermen saying that declining ocean fish numbers are due to too many dolphins and whales eating all the good fish. UB caused sprawl, right. Try HSBC and all the builders who redlined housing to scare people out of cities. Try big oil. UB is a small fish in the pond.

    Facts are facts. If the South Campus was expanded in the 70’s that would have meant that all of the surrounding neighborhoods whould have been leveled to make way for the expanded footprint of UB. Look no further than other cities where campus expansion has cleared neighborhoods and displaced residents. Without the North Campus, most of the housing around South Campus would be gone, and in its place would be parking lots and, buildings like Crofts Hall.

    Also, look at the “medical campus under UB2020” it was all about moving the McCarley Gardens people out and buying up the Fruit Belt, not fixing neighborhoods.

    The nutty idea that a Law School needs to be near a court house is simply stupid. How many of the top law schools in the country are connected to a court house? Stop watching the Paper Chase and start looking at facts. The whole gripe about moving the law school downtown is based on the fact that vacancy rates are rising downtown due to real estate speculation and building owners want the state to bail them out with a UB tenant. It is about subsidizing bad real estate developers and not training lawyers. Besides, UB’s law school could benefit from downsizing. Far too many ‘law student’ at UB are ONLY there to stay off the job market and never plan to practice law in the first place. About a 50% reduction in admissions would do wonders for UB Law.

    Back to the original topic. Yes, Simpson crushed faculty governance at UB and ruled with fear. Can UB recover from that reign of terror or is it stuck in the mode of being run like a Latin American dictatorship. Only time will tell. The good news is that Simpson is leaving. Hopefully he will take his entire crew with him.

  • pinheads think small

    “…If the South Campus was expanded in the 70′s that would have meant that all of the surrounding neighborhoods whould have been leveled to make way for the expanded footprint of UB.”

    Ummm I kinda think it could all have fit into Grover Cleveland Golf course and there could be buildings on top of the blacktop parking lots all over the Main St. Campus.

  • UB Professor

    Not even close, the Amherst Campus alone is 6 times the size of the exisitng South Campus. So, they would have had to demo ALL the neighborhoods around South Campus to make room for what is on the North Campus. Recall that the South Campus is fully occupies now, so the North Campus is on top of that. Expanding UB inside of Buffalo during the 1970s would have required displacing thousands of people at that time. Recall that the city had many more people then, and UB expansion in the city would have meant massive disruption of residents. UB expansion where there was land to build on made perfect sense back then, and still does now.

    Nice try, but history doesn’t lie, math is what it is too, especially when we are looking at how much land UB takes up.

    Following up on the silly need for a downtown law school argument. Ever heard of Berkeley Law, Stanford Law, Michigan Law, UVA Law, Cornell Law, etc.. etc… All in the top ten. None next to a court house. The reasoning for locating a Law School in downtown Buffalo is illogical. Under that logic, the US military academies should be moved to Iraq or Afgan. Under that logic, UBs business school should be moved to a shopping mall. Under that logic, the UB Law School should be next to Geico in CrossPoint business park, since most practicing attorneys never see the inside of a court, they negotiate settlements with insurance companies. Get a grip pal.

  • pinheads think small, still

    Building on Grover Cleveland golf course would not require demolition of University Heights neighborhoods. Amherst campus is 6x bigger in large part because of the surface parking lots, and that 6x would not be required in an urban campus.

  • UBProfessor

    Be serious. Add all the students, faculty, and staff to the city and there would need to be parking, more buildings, i.e. a much, much larger footprint. You’d have to put 30 story building on the Golf Course to squeeze it all in that tiny spot. And, technically, the golf course is located at 3781 Main St, in Amherst, NY. So you want to move the North Campus to another part of Amherst.

    You still will have the parking crunch. So, unless you spend a few hundred million dollars on commuter rail to the suburbs where everyone lives, or lots of parking structures, you will not get off the ground.

    Granted, your plan to relocate UB to the Grover Cleveland golf course in Amherst would still be 10 time less expensive than rehab in 1/2 of downtown Buffalo. Of course, just building out North Campus would make the most sense.

  • bud

    Ignoring the obvious seems to be a major talent for UB and UBProfessor. Now that we are stuck with that ridiculous North Campus, one way to minimize the cost and damage would be to actually acknowledge that there is a mass transit system on the doorstep of the South Campus and put UB’s weight behind a lobbying for a link to the North Campus.

    Come to think of it that $400 million that the UB Foundation has been squirreling away would make a great down payment. Now that’s a plan for 2020.

  • pinheads think small, still

    Amen, bud

  • UB Professor

    Hey Bud. No problem with expanding mass transit. That has been the trend in all growing regions around the country for over 15 years now. But, I am surprised in the inconsistency of people pushing form a link to North Campus at the same time they claim to want it shut down. A link to North Campus would just make it more relevant. Of course, a real mass transit system would have to be regional in scope. So, the train would need to connect Tonawanda, Amherst, Cheektowaga, Lockport, the Falls, Hamburg, Orchard Park, etc…. That is how it was and is being done all over the country (see Denver, LA, Phoenix, St. Louis, Chicago, Portland, Seatle, Boston, etc… etc…). Of course, Buffalo is not in the same league as any of those places. It is a small city and a shrinking one.

    PS: Let’s be honest about the mass transit system in Buffalo. It is a good bus system in the City, but weak in the suburbs. The train runs at a deficit, and is heavily subsidized by airport parking. It also only runs down main street and serves as a transfer hub for the bus. Also, mass transit can’t even keep its foothold on Main Street in an empty downtown. In fact, it has been blamed for the decline of downtown and its opponents fought to get cars back on main street so people would come back. Hypocracy, but I am sure some would fight mass transit expansion for the same crazy reasons (i.e. arguing it will chase business away).

  • Bud

    More blah, blah, blah from university types, but I gues that’s what we pay you for. Wouldn’t want anything useful to come out of academia now would we.

    The dinky little mqass transit line already gets over 20,000 riders a day, more when gas prices go up as we all know they will again. Extending the line to the North Campus adds ten of thousands of more riders a day, not to mention the Kenmore, Tonawanda and Amherst types that might venture on to get a ride to work downtown.

    Extending the line makes the entire UB system more relevant, not just the Rez. I can picture an “education corridor” that extends from Amherst to downtown Buffalo, picking up Medaille, Canisius and ECC along the way.

  • UBProfessor

    I don’t disagree with you Bud. But, it is still a pipe dream since nobody is going to put the money on the table to build the rail line. Rail lines are being built all over the country in growing places, but Buffalo isn’t growing, so nobody will flip the bill for a train.

    However, there are fewer barriers to expanding bus service between North campus and South campus (as well as between the burbs and North Campus). A nice new bus hub on the North Campus would make sense, along with designated, express bus lanes on Bailey or Millersport Hwy between the two campuses.

    Ditto in terms of creating a system of express bus lanes on major arteries throughout the region.

    But, this is Buffalo, and it would be difficult to do. Groups would pop up to oppose it, etc…. It would go the way of UB2020, Bass Pro, and 4 Superbowls.

    I hope that isn’t too much of a “university type” answer for you, Bud. To me it is more of a reality check type of an answer.

  • 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