Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.58
Liaison Derek Nichols
Submission Date Dec. 14, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University at Buffalo
PA-3: Participatory Governance

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.50 / 3.00 Ryan McPherson
Chief Sustainability Officer
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Do the institution’s students have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a student council)? :
Yes

Do the institution’s students have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body?:
Yes

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which students are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

The main governing body of the university is the University Council. Each state-operated campus of the SUNY system has an oversight Council, appointed by the Governor. This body supervises the operations and affairs of each state-operated campus. Nine of the ten members of the Council are appointed by the Governor for seven year terms. The tenth member is a student, who is elected for a one-year term by and from the students enrolled at the institution (this includes UB).

All undergraduate students are eligible to directly elect key leaders of the UB Student Association (SA). The SA represents undergraduate students before the university administration, continuously advocating for their best interests. They also provide a wide range of services, oversee an ever-growing roster of clubs and organizations, and put on memorable events all year long.

The University at Buffalo’s Student Association is unique amongst SUNY schools in that they are entirely student run. SA is funded through student fees and ultimately overseen by executive officers, the SA Senate, and the SA Student Assembly all of which are comprised entirely of undergraduate students. We are your Student Association.

The Graduate Student The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is the representative body for graduate students at the State University of New York at Buffalo and leaders are directly elected by their peers. Its two key purposes can be divided into representation and services. Its funds are derived from the Mandatory Student Fee and are used to pay GSA staff and fund numerous programs and services offered to GSA members.

The GSA President is the key representative to all of the administration, such as the Dean of the Graduate School, the Provost and the President of the University. GSA also represents graduate students beyond the University. The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, of which GSA is a member, is an organization that exists across the country to represent the needs of graduate and professional students.

The Graduate Student Association was created in 1962 to give graduate students a voice. In the 1960s, it was the creation of a student lounge in the New Norton Union (today Norton Hall) that originally got GSA on its feet. From that beginning, GSA expanded to providing services for graduate students as well. It also became what as known as “the great experiment.” This “great experiment” was to allow students to control their own Mandatory Student Fee, that is its collection, amount and disbursement, for programs that the students feel they need.


Do the institution’s staff members have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a staff council)?:
Yes

Do the institution’s non-supervisory staff members have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body?:
No

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which staff are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

The Professional Staff Senate at the University at Buffalo exists to look out for the interests of all staff working within State, UB Foundation, and Research Foundation lines. The PSS actively participates in the policy decisions of the University and promotes individual professional development.

The Professional Staff Senate (PSS) was officially organized and named in 1972, although the groundwork for the organization was laid beginning in 1969. The State University Professionals Association (SUPA) was organized to represent non-teaching professionals throughout the SUNY system. During its first two yeas, SUPA was active in developing grievance procedures and examining employment conditions, and interacted with the SUNY contract negotiating team.

On June 1, 1972, the members of SUNY Buffalo Chapter of SUPA voted to establish the PSS which would in effect take over all functions of SUPA on a local level. The “new” PSS ratified a constitution during the summer of 1972 stating its purpose and function: “PSS shall seek an active role for the professional staff in the governance of the University; shall provide advice and counsel in administrative matters and shall assist in the development of administrative policies and procedures.”

The PSS still maintains and follows its established role of participating in the governance of the University at Buffalo in the current constitution and bylaws.

In addition, The Professional Staff Senate, Faculty Senate and various unions across campus have launched a Shared Governance initiative designed to bring together diverse voices to increase input and engagement across the campus thereby increasing representation and diversity in campus decision making.


Do the institution’s teaching and research faculty have a representative body through which they can participate in governance (e.g. a faculty senate)?:
Yes

Do the institution’s teaching and research faculty have an elected representative on the institution’s highest governing body? :
No

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which teaching and research faculty are engaged in governance, including information to support each affirmative response above:

The Faculty Senate of the University at Buffalo is the University’s deliberative and democratic faculty governance body. Senators representing UB’s colleges and schools are elected by and from the faculty of each, independent of rank and discipline. Through the resolutions it passes, the reports it creates, and its permanent and ad hoc committees, the Faculty Senate represents the official viewpoint of the faculty on issues pertaining to the academic, research, public service and co-curricular programs and activities of the University. Underlying its activities is the recognition of the faculty’s responsibilities for the excellence of the University. The Senate is consultative to the President on all matters that may affect the University’s objectives and operations.


Does the institution have written policies and procedures to identify and engage external stakeholders (i.e. local residents) in land use planning, capital investment projects, and other institutional decisions that affect the community?:
Yes

A copy of the written policies and procedures:
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The policies and procedures:

There are two key principles that inform our engagement of partners locally and around the world. The first principle is that engagement is essential for our ability to achieve the overall purpose of the university. The university, within the broader social system, has the fundamental responsibility to fuel knowledge creation and application to enhance societal purposes.

The second principle is that improving the life of our communities will lead to excellence in the core missions of our institution – research, teaching and service – and, at the same time, enhance the quality of life in the communities we engage. As an engaged university we cultivate reciprocal relationships with our surrounding publics through shared tasks that help faculty and students learn and the community grow stronger. These efforts support and promote a more extensive engagement culture on our campus, create curricular opportunities and develop our students’ civic competencies and habits. Engaging our community provides students exposure to new ways of learning, including involvement in faculty-led research that is relevant, grounded in community problems and rigorous in method.

There are many ways in which UB works with partners in our region and around the world. When it comes to land use planning and capital investment projects both our comprehensive physical plan (Building UB) and our strategic plan (Realizing UB2020) are clear and we are “responsible for the stewardship of our relationships with our neighbors and our mutual obligations to society.” We specifically do this through:
• Collaborating with our Neighbors: at each campus, UB and our surrounding neighbors are working together toward a shared vision of a healthy and vibrant community for all. Our work focuses on creating more university facilities on each campus open to community use, improves pedestrian bike connections, identifies mutually beneficial development opportunities and addresses mutual concerns such as traffic and parking, access to transportation, and safety and security. We continue to engage in this work on a project-by project-basis in alignment with our larger policy objectives.
• Strengthening relationships with local and regional government agencies. UB has strong working relationships with the City of Buffalo, the Town of Amherst and the County of Erie, including official memoranda of understanding that outline shared interests, mutual oblations and common approaches to policy making and problem solving
• Inviting input: we consult widely, systematically, and persistently with a broad array of partners, stakeholders and interested parties explaining the intent of our larger strategic plans, listening to their concerns, and speaking about the role UB can play in the city and region with their help. These consultations have involved neighborhood organizations, faith based groups, business associations, elected officials and civic organizations
• Coordinating with local and regional plans: UB staff and municipal and regional planning staff around our community work together constantly within the framework of a shared understanding of what the Buffalo Niagara region requires to achieve a more sustainable and higher quality of life. Recent comprehensive plans developed for the City of Buffalo, the Town of Amherst, the County of Erie and the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transpiration Council and the Niagara Frontier Transpiration Authority share with UB’s Comprehensive Physical Plan a common outlook and direction with regard to the challenges of economic development, transportation, energy, land use and sustainable development.

The University has been and continues to take specific actions to ensure that the impact of our growth is more equitably enjoyed. These include collaborative neighborhood redevelopment efforts with citizens in University Heights, the Fruit Belt, and Allentown; the development of programs in association with organized labor to ensure broad participation in the construction and operation of new UB facilities; and the expansion of core programs such as UB’s Educational Opportunity Center that help prepare educationally disadvantaged individuals for jobs or further education.


Does the institution have formal participatory or shared governance bodies through which community members representing the interests of the following stakeholder groups can regularly participate in institutional governance?:
Yes or No
Local government and/or educational organizations Yes
Private sector organizations Yes
Civil society (e.g. NGOs, NPOs) Yes

A brief description of the bodies and mechanisms through which external stakeholders are engaged in institutional governance (including information about each stakeholder group selected above):

The University’s Shared Governance model is illustrated here and extensively in the questions contained in this credit: http://www.buffalo.edu/facultysenate/SharedGovernance.html and https://www.buffalo.edu/pss/about-us/focus-areas/shared-governance.html

The University has led a robust conversation with local government leaders around the concept of not only creating but implementing a sustainable development plan. The initiative known as One Region Forward is a broad-based, collaborative effort to promote more sustainable forms of development in Erie and Niagara counties--in land use, transportation, housing, energy and climate, access to food, and more. It combines research and public engagement with planning and action to help us meet the combined economic, environmental, and social challenges of the 21st century. The University at Buffalo has been at the core of this plan since it's inception and continues to play a pivotal leadership role with the towns and cities that make up Erie and Niagara counties. More information can be found here: http://www.oneregionforward.org/

The University also continues to engage heavily with the private sector through a series of initiatives across the campus. Since our last STARS submission UB has created a new position of Associate Vice President for Economic Development who spends the vast majority of her time engaging the private sector for direct input and engagement to increase positive impact across the Western New York business community. In addition, President Satish Tripathi played a key leadership role as co-chair of the New York State Regional Economic Development Council. Finally the University continues to engage with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and other initiatives that increase collaboration and connectivity between UB and the business community.

The university also has multiple avenues for civil society to regularly influence and participate in university direction. The President regularly meets with the not-for-profit community throughout Western New York and solicits input and engagement into university governance. UB also works very closely with the United Way (the umbrella organization for civil society in Western New York) as they provide insight and counsel on emerging trends and needs throughout the community. This information is then acted upon by our campus through the Campaign for the Community which contributes just under $1M dollars in direct assistance to civic organizations throughout the region as well as countess volunteer hours.

In addition to these vehicles the members on the University Council also represent a diverse array of healthcare, private sector and civil society. For example:
• Business—is represented by Jeremy Jacobs of Delaware North, Robert Brady of Moog Inc. and Christopher Koch of New Era Cap Company
• Health Care— is represented by June Hoeflich of Sheehan Health Network and Michael Cropp of Independent Health
• Civil Society is represented by John Dandes who serves on a number of civic boards and Pam Heilman who also has extensive experience in the cultural and civic sector


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Please see Building UB and Realizing UB2020 at the following links (both documents are too big to upload and are best viewed via the web) for a copy of the written policies and procedures in section II
* http://www.buffalo.edu/ub2020/archives/strategic-initative-archive/building_ub/building_ub.html
* http://www.buffalo.edu/content/www/ub2020/archives/archives/realizing-ub-2020/_jcr_content/par/download/file.res/Realizing-UB2020-Final-2013-10-7.pdf

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.