Thursday, February 11, 2010

William Greiner's Ten Life Lessons

As a follow up to my last post, I wanted to highlight a portion of a tribute delivered at William Greiner's memorial service. Judith E. Albino, one of the speakers and a President Emerita and Professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, gave a heartfelt and memorable speech in which she recalled ten life lessons she learned from William Greiner. I've reproduced her list below:
  1. Do the right thing, and if you do, you won’t need lawyers – at least not often.
  2. There are few real obstacles to reaching our goals, only different, sometimes circuitous – but often, far more interesting – routes for getting there.
  3. Ambiguity is good – it means that everything is still possible.
  4. Words are powerful – know what they mean; use them well, and use them precisely.
  5. The influence of history is real and undeniable; in other words, context is critical in every decision.
  6. There’s always another way to look at a problem, and the best solutions require multiple perspectives.
  7. People do the best they can – acknowledge that, and give them credit.
  8. The most important title you’ll ever have in a University is Professor – and Bill, of course, was the consummate professor.
  9. Buffalo, New York, is just about the greatest place on earth, and the University at Buffalo definitely is the greatest academic institution on earth.
  10. Finally, it is important to be fair, and to respect, love, and take care of your family, your friends and your colleagues (even if those colleagues are not always your friends), as well as your university and your community – and of course, your dog.
Note: The above list was part of a larger speech delivered by Professor Judith E. Albino and was delivered during the William Greiner tribute on February 2, 2010. It's likely that UB will be posting her speech in its entirety, along with all the other tributes, soon. When that happens, I'll link to her speech in its entirety.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

William Greiner

I attended the public memorial service for former UB President William Greiner this week, and it was a tribute and celebration I will not soon forget. The speakers ranged from former colleagues and associates of Greiner to close friends and family. All evoked the prodigious intelligence and big warmth of a man who left an indelible impression on all those who knew him and a lasting legacy on the university where he served as President.

While I was an undergraduate at UB when Greiner became President, it wasn't until much later that I had a personal encounter with him. It was actually only a few years ago, at one of my wife's Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG) events when many of the Kappa's brought their spouses. We were eating lunch, and I found myself sitting across from Carol Greiner (a Kappa like my wife) and her husband -- Bill Greiner.

Conversation flowed as my wife and I began to pepper Bill with questions. He realized we were very interested in talking to him and spoke at length, and patiently, about the early days of UB and the transformation of the school into a top-flight research university. I particularly remember him detailing clearly why UB's North Campus was built in Amherst and not in downtown Buffalo. I left that luncheon feeling buoyed from sharing space and conversation with Bill Greiner. It's hard to explain, but he seemed both larger than life and approachable and affable.

I felt the same way at the memorial service tribute. What a big life he had, I thought, after listening to all the speakers recount Greiner's accomplishments and all the people he touched.