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.