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UB Proposes Plan to Build Downtown Medical Campus

Published June 3, 2011

President Satish K. Tripathi, Dean Michael E. Cain, MD, and other UB leaders have submitted a proposal to the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program in support of a $375 million plan to relocate the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to downtown Buffalo.

Post-industrial cities have achieved “dramatic economic turnarounds by aligning university medical centers with community hospitals to build thriving biomedical industries that improve patient care.”
Michael E. Cain , MD
Dean, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Under the proposal, the university will implement the next phase of the UB 2020 plan for academic excellence. It is anticipated that this would spur rapid development of Buffalo’s biomedical economy by creating jobs, spinning off biotechnology companies and expanding educational opportunities for students.

Estimate of Jobs Created from Growth in Research

More than 3,000 new full-time jobs would be created in Western New York by 2018 under the proposal, the university estimates. This includes 1,325 new jobs at UB—410 faculty and 915 staff to support clinical care, service, teaching and research—as well as 1,740 new jobs resulting from UB’s research growth (based on U.S. Department of Commerce estimates).

Two hundred jobs would be created in 10 startup companies developed from university research and partnerships, and more than 1,600 construction jobs would be created to build the medical school on the downtown Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Financing Proposed from a Variety of Sources

The $375 million UB proposal, to be implemented over the next seven years, would be financed by a variety of sources, including:

  • $35 million from the governor’s challenge grant
  • $50 million to be raised in private gifts to the UB medical school
  • $50 million from private partnerships
  • $40 million in research grants
  • $100 million from UB capital and other sources
  • $100 million from medical school program fee

The medical school project would serve as a catalyst for additional development with Kaleida Health, Buffalo’s largest hospital system, and other private and public entities, making it a $655 million investment in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, according to the proposal.

Proposed Tuition Increases Scaled to Ability to Pay

UB also is asking the state Legislature to approve increasing tuition $200 a semester for the next five years to improve the academic experience for UB students while maintaining access for those from lower-income families. A financial aid program financed by the tuition revenues would guarantee minimal increases in tuition for students and families making less than $75,000 per year.

Under the program:

  • Tuition would not increase for families with annual incomes up to $40,000.
  • Tuition would increase $30 per semester for families with annual incomes between $40,000 and $60,000.
  • Tuition would increase $70 per semester for families with annual incomes between $60,000 and $70,000.
  • Tuition would increase $100 per semester for families with annual incomes between $70,000 and $75,000.

UB’s tuition is one of the lowest among the 60 U.S. research universities that make up the Association of American Universities (AAU). Even with the proposed tuition increase, UB would remain one of the most affordable major public universities in the U.S.

Facilities Have Already Begun to Move Downtown

UB already has begun moving medical research facilities to downtown Buffalo to help grow the city’s heath care and biotech industry. In 2005, UB opened the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. In June, the university will open the UB Institute for Healthcare Informatics, leveraging a $15 million investment from computer giant Dell. In the fall, UB and Kaleida Health will open a $291 million clinical care and research facility.

Leveraging the Challenge Grant

UB’s proposal was praised by SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher who, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, developed the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program to increase the economic impact of SUNY’s four university centers and to strengthen educational opportunities for students.

“I am impressed by the significant planning and analysis performed by the University at Buffalo to show how it will leverage this challenge grant to benefit students and the Western New York economy,” Zimpher said. “UB and all of SUNY’s university centers have tremendous potential to be even greater economic drivers in New York State. My hope is this challenge grant will give them the opportunity to do so immediately.”

Tripathi said the proposal would enable UB “to pursue its plan for academic excellence and contribute more significantly to Buffalo’s emerging biomedical economy.”

“It will create jobs in our community and greatly expand educational opportunities for our students,” he said.

“Our tuition proposal will give UB the means to pursue academic excellence while protecting students’ access to high-quality education, especially for the state’s neediest students.”

Benefits of Aligning with Community Hospitals

Cain said post-industrial cities like Pittsburgh, Cleveland and St. Louis have achieved “dramatic economic turnarounds by aligning university medical centers with community hospitals to build thriving biomedical industries that improve patient care.”

James R. Kaskie, president and CEO of Kaleida Health, noted that the momentum created by UB and Kaleida Health’s expansion in downtown Buffalo would make the region a national hub for patient care and medical research.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity before us to transform our region’s economy and pioneer new treatments and innovative health care,” Kaskie said.

Jeremy M. Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North Companies and chairman of the UB Council, said UB’s proposal has earned unprecedented support in the region—from business leaders to legislators to students to faith-based organizations.

“UB’s plan is a strategy for our entire region to move forward—economically, culturally and socially,” Jacobs said. “A better UB will yield a better, stronger Western New York.”

Added Robert Brady, a member of the UB Council and chairman and CEO of Moog Inc., a manufacturer of components and systems for aircraft, space, industrial and medical applications: “I’ve seen firsthand the value of partnering with a major research university. Moog is investing in Western New York precisely because UB is located here and can supply us with a skilled workforce and the innovations we need to advance our business.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said UB’s expansion into downtown Buffalo “will create new jobs and open up new opportunities that can revitalize neighborhoods and improve quality of life throughout Buffalo’s urban core.”