Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

New York Times Looks at UB Shale Institute (Again)

UB CLEAR has issued SRSI its first report card.

The State University of New York at Buffalo picks up another black eye from the New York Times today, thanks again to the school’s Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI). Click here to read the story by Mireya Navarro.

Undaunted, UB administrators are posting false or nonsensical statements on the UB website in defense of the institute, citing “academic freedom” for faculty members. Apparently, academic freedom now includes the right to publish flawed and regurgitated research put together by corporate shills under the SUNY Buffalo brand—never mind that the report’s authors aren’t UB faculty members.

In addition, Vice President of Communications Joe Brennan, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Bruce Pitman would not accept my phone calls yesterday—preferring instead to leave campus or hide in their offices—while allowing their assistants to deal with me. That’s why the state of New York pays them the big bucks, so they can dodge their responsibilities when the going gets a little bumpy.

All I wanted to do was pose one question, torn from the demands made by the UB Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research (UB CLEAR) at its first press conference yesterday afternoon: Would UB “release all documents bearing on the formation of the Institute, its staffing, governance, oversight, and funding”? But no. Neither Brennan nor Pitman would take my call. Brennan had to travel out of town today to lobby for SUNY tuition increases, apparently. (I’m not making that up. Listen to my conversation with his secretary.)

Here’s an email string, typos and all, comprising the sum of my communication with Pitman and Brennan, regarding SRSI, since they won’t talk on the phone. I received the initial email from Pitman on Wednesday, as a response to a phone message I left him on Monday. I sent the email at the top to Joe Brennan and Bruce Pitman, copying AV Editor Geoff Kelly around 6pm yesterday, after enduring an afternoon of typical shenanigans.

Hi Joe,

The link you offer names you as the contact person. That’s why I called you. You are paid a $170,000 salary to act as Associate Vice President for University Communications. Rather than return my call, all you can offer is this meagre email before running out the door until Monday?

On top of that, you directed me to call Bruce. I did, and told his assistant that you sent me. His assistant let me remain on hold for 25 minutes waiting for him, periodically checking back to say that he was still unavailable. Finally, she suggested I call you back. I explained that you wouldn’t talk to me and would not return until Monday, in any case.

I said I would like to continue to remain on hold. She hung up on me.

Is this your idea of public relations?

What’s even more ridiculous is that my inquiry——which neither of you nor Bruce had the inclination to hear——was very simple and straightforward.

You may read it tomorrow on the Artvoice blog, when I publish it along with an mp3 of the time I spent talking to your assistants and listening to the recording of Bert Gambini talking about UB. A full half-hour of runaround from UB Administration, with a reminder of the amount of money you both are paid by the state of New York.

Bruce, with your rate of pay listed at $237,350, you really should do something nice for your assistant after you made her get rid of my call while you hid in your office. Nice leadership.


Buck Quigley
Associate Editor
810 Main St
Buffalo, NY 14202
fax 716-881-6682

On Jun 28, 2012, at 4:11 PM, Brennan, Joseph wrote:

Mr. Quigley,

I received your phone message wanting to talk with me about the UB CLEAR protest today. The university’s statement is posted here:

The statement is UB’s full comment on this matter.

The message also said that you wanted to ask me about Dr. Pitman’s message to you. It would be better for you to ask you question directly to him.


Joe Brennan

—–Original Message—–
From: Pitman, E Bruce []
Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 5:47 PM
Cc:; Brennan, Joseph; Pitman, E Bruce
Subject: your phone call

Dear Mr. Quigley,

I received your phone message from the 24th, asking for my response to “the
investigation into the Shale Institute directed by SUNY Chancellor Nancy L.
Zimpher” in her appearance on The Capital Pressroom.
I have been tied up this week and am just now getting to email and

The Chancellor did not ask for any “investigation” into the Institute. If I
may recall that conversation for you:

 Chancellor Nancy Zimpher: “Well, I think I’ve asked, and they are
responding, the University, to counter these arguments, that’s
 I think we need to wait to see what they’re going to say about the
various criticisms. I think that the University at Buffalo has a very
 high standard for the review of their research. And I’m very confident
that they will step up and respond to implications about how the
 study was done, knowing, as you said, that this is a controversial issue,
and people do attack process, they do.”

 Ms. Susan Arbetter: “Of course they do, and it’s just part of a political
strategy, that if you don’t like the results of something, you
 attack the process.”

 Chancellor Nancy Zimpher: “So I expect UB to stand up and say what they
did in the process, and I’m sure they will.”

So the Chancellor did ask the University to respond to criticism of the
Institute’s report and to attacks on the process.
To that end I issued a statement:
I also appeared on The Capital Pressroom, and I am sure you can obtain a
transcript of that conversation from the Pressroom podcast archive.

I have nothing further to add at this time.

I hope this note addresses your questions.


E. Bruce Pitman
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
810 Clemens Hall
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260
(716)645-2711 (voice)
(716)645-3888 (fax)

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why.
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time.
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

                                    GREEN DAY
                           Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

And no, I didn’t add the Green Day lyrics. That’s courtesy of the Dean of Arts and Sciences himself.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, click the icon to listen in on what it’s like for a member of the press to try to ask a question of these fine public employees. It’s a half-hour of your life you’ll never get back, so I suggest letting it play in the background while you go about more productive activities, like watching paint dry.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Or, open another window in your browser and check out the Public Accountability Initiative’s take on things. Click here for that link.



  • Jim_Holstun

    When your income starts rising to absurd levels and for incomprehensible reasons,
    delusions of godhead can kick in, and you forget your ultimate responsibility to your employers–i.e., the citizen-owners of SUNY. If Associate VP Brennan and Dean Pitman get a spare moment anytime soon, they might want to read the SUNY Mission Statement–a beautiful short piece, available here:

  • Eric Ryan

    WOW. 237K? it’s not exactly pertinent information regarding the article but still. Wow. there is going to be some further developments in this story at be sure to check it out.