Promoting Global Conversations

The UB Foundation provides critical support to UB’s renowned Distinguished Speakers Series.

The Distinguished Speakers Series brings speakers of national and international renown to campus several times a year to share insight, provoke thought and stimulate conversation about some of our time’s most compelling issues, stories and events.

The series is supported in part by the Donald L. Davis Lectureship Fund, an endowment created exclusively to support the series. This endowment is managed by the UB Foundation.

Bill Regan, Director of UB’s Office of Special Events, recently answered some questions about the Distinguished Speakers Series; here’s what he had to say.

What impact does the Distinguished Speakers Series (DSS) have on UB and the community?

Regan: The series serves as an important touch point for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community to advance the national and global conversation about the issues shaping our world. UB is fortunate to be able to bring in the leading thinking and action figures who are driving these conversations. Our association with these leaders through the series enhances the stature of the university and helps distinguish our standing as an elite (public) university.

How does the DSS improve the quality of life for students, and help the university achieve its mission?

Regan: The impact on the quality of student life is immeasurable. The series is now a well-established program for students, as both the undergraduate and graduate student associations (SA and GSA) are long-standing major sponsors of the series. The SA and GSA have the opportunity to actively participate in the speaker selection process for the series, and to identify their own “student choice speakers.” The SA and GSA sponsorships provide students with tremendous access to all the lectures which are hosted predominantly in the Alumni Arena.

“So many students come away from our Distinguished Speakers Series events motivated, and with a greater sense of purpose and confidence about where they want to go in life.”

Bill Regan, Director, Office of Special Events

How do sponsorships, the Donald L. Davis Lectureship Fund and the endowment support the DSS?

Regan: These funds are critical to the prosperity and success of the series. These resources put UB in position to invite the most sought-after global leaders, newsmakers and thought-leaders, including former heads-of-state, Nobel Peace Prize winners, celebrated authors, scientists, and media celebrities among others. While revenue from ticket sales is certainly a critical piece in covering expenses, our ability to secure the best speakers would not be possible without these ancillary funding streams.

Why is private support so important to a public institution like UB?

Regan: In the case of the series, private support allowed this program and the university to stand out and be more attractive as a place to study, work and invest in. As the series has developed and become successful, the interest level has grown and attracted more resources to work with to make the series even more effective as an advancement and development vehicle for the university. Private support can be credited with catalyzing interest, growth, and prominence for the series, which in turn has led to greater institutional success on many fronts.

What are the benefits of donors being able to direct their funds for a specific purpose, like the DSS?

Regan: By helping to fund the series, a donor can take enormous satisfaction that his or her gift is making a difference in the way students in particular are setting life goals and career paths. Almost all speakers reflect back on ‘when they were young,’ and what led to their success. In doing so, speakers allow students to understand that they too can become whoever they want to be. By scheduling diverse lineups of speakers year to year, the series puts itself in position to impact all students over their UB careers, regardless of their backgrounds and fields of study.

What would you say to the donors who have helped support the DSS?

Regan: Thank you! You are making UB a better place to study, work, and play, and—most importantly—you are giving our students every advantage to be successful.

About the Donald L. Davis Lectureship Fund

In 1989, a gift from Donald L. Davis, the retired founder of Don Davis Auto World, Inc., created the Don Davis Auto World Endowed Lectureship Fund, which supports the annual Distinguished Speakers Series. A retired business executive and Western New York community leader, Don and his wife, Esther, have made numerous gifts to the university.