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$40 million gift from Russ Agrusa to University
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$40 million gift from Russ Agrusa to University

At his annual State of the University address, University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi announced today that UB has raised more than $1 billion through a comprehensive fundraising effort.

“I would like to especially acknowledge our campaign volunteers and donors for your commitment to our boldest goals,” said Tripathi. “Everywhere you look, you can see how philanthropic giving to UB is catalyzing student success, accelerating faculty research and impacting the world. And our donors are proud to see the very same thing.”

Boldly Buffalo originated in 2013 and launched publicly in 2018. Since then, nearly 80,000 donors have committed $1,005,812,481 to fulfill UB’s three key campaign priorities — supporting student success, empowering faculty research and scholarly activity, and making an impact on the world.

UB has surpassed its billion-dollar goal with eight months to go until its official close date of June 30, 2024.

Buoyed by record fundraising outcomes in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, Tripathi also announced today a $40 million commitment from longtime UB benefactor and alumnus, Russ Agrusa.

His gift, which pushed the campaign over the billion-dollar mark, will help elevate engineering education and the student experience in UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The initial $20 million of Agrusa’s gift has been designated to kickstart the construction of a new student-focused engineering building on the North Campus, which will be named Russell L. Agrusa Hall. The balance is allocated for the long-term needs and priorities of engineering and computer science education.

Agrusa resides in the Boston area and is the founder and retired CEO of ICONICS, Inc. He and his late wife, Paula, previously made gifts in support of several UB projects, including a student innovation competition in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering; the Agrusa Auditorium in Davis Hall; and in 2021, Russ funded the construction of Paula’s Plaza, an exterior space beside the Jacobs Management Center honoring Paula, a 1978 School of Management alumna.

Through his philanthropy, Agrusa is committed to nurturing the next generation of students. Considering his own journey of discovery and leadership, Agrusa was excited by the idea of providing a physical place for students to take risks and collaborate across the many different disciplines within the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and across UB.

The new building will be uniquely student-focused, housing the many engineering and computer science-based student organizations and clubs. Equipped with the latest technology for hands-on learning, the new building will also serve as a meeting point for student activities alongside learning and enrichment.

“Everything about the new building will be designed to enhance the student experience,” said Kemper Lewis, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “It will be a central gathering point where all students are welcomed and supported in a space that encourages them to pursue their intellectual curiosity and tackle the grand challenges that we, as a society, face.”

“Our UB alumni, donors and friends have shown their commitment to the university throughout the entirety of this campaign,” said Jason Diffenderfer, UB vice president for university advancement. “Year after year our donors continue to enthusiastically invest in UB’s educational mission. They are supporting the promise and potential of our outstanding students by contributing the essential resources that are helping UB to pursue its ambition to be in the Top 25 of public research universities.”

The nearly 32,000 students who call UB home will benefit from more than $117 million invested in new scholarships and fellowships. Since the beginning of the campaign, more than 300 have been created or enhanced thanks to donor investment.

In addition, one of the key components of propelling UB to the upper echelon of public research universities is the ability to bolster faculty research that leads to real-world improvements and outcomes. Donors to Boldly Buffalo have contributed more than $62 million to faculty, with 41 new faculty positions established to date.

The university’s three campuses also have been transformed during the campaign period — donor support has helped build or renovate 21 signature spaces on campus, including the landmark home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in downtown Buffalo and the Murchie Family Fieldhouse on the North Campus.

Donor investment also has enabled UB’s acclaimed services for the community to be housed in the areas where they are needed most, including a second S-Miles to Go Mobile Dental Unit, providing much needed dental care to underserved individuals throughout the Western New York region.

The Boldly Buffalo campaign officially closes June 30, 2024, giving alumni and donors additional opportunities to show their support for the university and drive this historic campaign to even greater outcomes. At its conclusion, it will be one of the largest comprehensive campaigns by a public university in the Northeast and the largest campaign UB has ever undertaken, in both impact and duration.

“Although we are moving into the final year of this campaign, the university always values the incredible energy and momentum alumni and donors bring in support of UB,” added Diffenderfer, noting that donors will be incentivized to contribute in this last year to take advantage of programs like the SUNY University Center Endowment Match. This program will help donors amplify their support when they invest in UB through this limited-time program.

“As the volunteer co-chairs of the Boldly Buffalo campaign, my wife, Gail (BS ’87), and I have been proud to provide leadership and energy to a committed group of volunteers who have helped to steer and shape this campaign for the last decade,” said Daniel Alexander, MD ’99, BS ’95, a prominent orthopedic surgeon and chief administrative officer at Auburn Community Hospital. “With our remaining year, I am challenging our alumni and friends to make their biggest and most prominent contributions yet,” he added.


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