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.


  1. I share your sentiments about President Greiner. I worked at the Great Lakes Program, at the University at Buffalo as an Administrative Assistant from 1989-2006 under several Directors. Mr. Greiner was the President for a good portion of those years. He was always someone that went out of his way to call you back, write a letter, and take time to acknowledge you - especially Administrative staff like me. During an especially difficult time when an internal investigation was going on because of suspected "double dipping" by a former boss, President Greiner sent a very touching letter of appreciation to me, thanking me for my integrity and dedication to UB and courage for taking a stand. I will never forget how much that meant to me, as a single mother of three and support staff member that loved her job.
    Once President Greiner left office, everything changed in UB Administration and the high standards, and approachability that were once there was gone. The Ivory Tower was back. After I filed a complaint of harassment against a professor in the Dept. of Civil Engineering, my position of nearly 17 years suddenly ended. I know President Greiner would not have allowed this to happen. President Greiner is a man that is missed. He will always be held with the most high regard in my life.

  2. I recently learned that UB will be dedicating and opening a new undergraduate living and learning center in August. It's name: William R. Greiner Hall.