Though it was the ninth time he has delivered a State of the University address, it was the first time Dr. Satish Tripathi did so online. The University at Buffalo president, in recognition of the COVID pandemic, released his address in a recorded video message Friday morning.
Dr. Tripahti's first topic was the very reason why he was delivering his speech online, the pandemic. After explaining the steps taken by the university to promote social distancing on campus and promote continued safety measures, he then discussed UB's participation in taking on COVID-19 and presented video of Dr. Tim Murphy, an infectious disease expert with UB's Jacobs School of Medicine, providing some examples.
"UB researchers are conducting 52 studies right now, related to the pandemic, looking at new ways to test for coronavirus, new ways to prevent Coronavirus infection, and then also interventional clinical trials," said Murphy in the video. "I think some of the more promising studies are the studies that are looking at how the virus is transmitted in our community. Also, studies that are looking at new treatments. Everyone's paying a lot of attention to clinical research nationally and locally. This is what is going to contribute, importantly, to the solution to the pandemic."
When discussing finances, Tripathi said the university was on solid ground before the pandemic. But the university is anticipating as much as a $40 million drop in state aid in light of the state's fiscal woes. The university president then explained measures being taken to ensure the university may emerge from the pandemic on solid ground again.
The first step is every department was assessed a 10-percent reduction in their operating budgets.
"In addition to this one-time reduction, we have directed units to significantly reduce all state expenditures. That is why we have instituted a hiring pass across all funding sources," Tripathi said. "While we have taken these steps, we also continue to fiercely advocate for the public good that our great public research university serves. It is our collective imperative to emerge from this crisis a stronger, more resilient institution."
That advocacy, he stated, includes racial and social justice. He recognized the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Daniel Pride, stating those deaths and others have increased the university's commitment to addressing racism, injustice and violence.
"We know we can affect the real and meaningful change more than ever. UB should serve as a bastion of hope and a community of action compelled by the greater good," he said.