At a public memorial that drew more than 1,200 people to the Center for the Arts on Tuesday, colleagues, friends and family paid respects to UB’s 13th president, William R. Greiner, as a man who “dreamed big” and encouraged those around him to do the same.
Speakers at the two-hour event ranged from Greiner’s children to a former student and two UB presidents—Greiner’s successor, John B. Simpson, and his predecessor, Steven B. Sample, who left UB to become president of the University of Southern California.
Thomas Headrick, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, remembered Greiner, a friend for more than 50 years, as vastly knowledgeable, curious, serious, funny, forthright and empathetic, a man blessed with prodigious energy and common sense. He loved the Bulls, the Red Sox and sports in general. In golf, he had a long, flowing swing. In life, he had a big heart and sense of humor.
In all, more than a dozen people stepped to the podium on a stage adorned with sprays of blue and white flowers to honor the man whose leadership transformed the institution he had served for 42 years as president, provost and law school faculty member.
Among those who took the microphone was Jeremy M. Jacobs, chair of the UB Council, who announced that the university would name its newest student housing project after Greiner. William R. Greiner Hall, formerly known as South Ellicott Suites, will blend residential, academic and recreational areas—a fitting tribute for a man who worked tirelessly to enrich the community life of the university. At a reception following Tuesday’s formal program, guests lined up to sign a structural beam for the new building on the North Campus adjacent to the Ellicott Complex, which is expected to be ready for occupancy in fall 2011.