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If University at Buffalo alumni think that graduating is going to put distance between them and the university, they'd better think again.
UB President Satish K. Tripathi is going after them, traveling around the world to personally keep them informed about progress being made in a variety of endeavors at the institution, and soliciting advice from alumni on how UB can be improved.
Having completed the first leg of a 20-month, 20-city tour, Tripathi was back in Buffalo to address about 350 UB alums and more than 200 faculty, staff and other guests during a reception Thursday night at the Hotel Lafayette. Tripathi's tour has already taken him to such far-flung places as Palm Beach, Fla., and San Francisco, and even farther, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Beijing, in order to share his vision of the university's future with UB alumni.
He estimated that there are roughly 220,000 UB alums in more than 100 countries around the world.
"People who have lived [in the Buffalo area] have a very fond memory of this place, so [making a] connection is not hard," said Tripathi, following his address.
It certainly wasn't difficult making that connection locally, where the former UB provost and 15th president of the university estimated that about 70,000 UB graduates remain.
Tripathi shared with those present at Thursday's reception his long-range vision for the institution, as well as plans to strengthen its impact on the local economy and culture, and efforts to increase UB's global reach.
He noted that 85 new faculty have been hired at the university and spoke briefly about how UB 2020 will raise the university's profile and about new physical developments at the university, such as plans to relocate the medical school to the downtown medical corridor and the opening of the environmentally-friendly William R. Greiner Residence Hall.
"We cannot do this by ourselves. We need your help to lobby. . We need your money. But more than that, we need your opinion and involvement," Tripathi said.
Tripathi later added that in his visits to 11 cities so far, he's received a range of advice from UB graduates.
"Many of the alumni, for example, want me to raise money for scholarships so the students can graduate on time. . They're also looking at the facilities we have and how we can improve those facilities. They also want us to improve the quality of faculty so we can be ranked better. The higher ranking we have, the more valuable the degrees are," Tripathi said.
"We're not going to wait 20 months [before acting on suggestions from alumni]. As we collect information, we're really working on it," he said. "We're trying to get them involved to help us, too."

email: hmcneil@buffnews.com