University at Buffalo The State University of New York

Academic Excellence and Success Fee: 2015-2016 Report


In response to Governor Andrew Cuomo and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher’s NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant initiative in 2011, the University at Buffalo created a strategic investment plan to invest in and expand academics and research, need- based aid, and faculty and researchers. Fueled by NYSUNY 2020, the plan was leveraged by capital funding, a rational tuition policy, and the Academic Excellence and Success Fee (AESF).

The Academic Excellence and Success Fee program provides the crucial margin of resources that enabled the full realization of UB’s NYSUNY 2020 academic strategy. The first element of this strategy focused on the expansion of interdisciplinary faculty teams that provide new, relevant educational programs for UB students and that build UB’s competitiveness in attracting new research support to the university. This research support provides opportunities for graduate student research and an improved standing for UB in the national and international research community.

Second, UB NYSUNY 2020 built educational capacity at UB. With the addition of faculty, UB now offers more course sections in high-demand course areas. We also provide the advising, technical and facilities infrastructures that ensure more timely attainment of every student’s degree objective and a higher quality educational experience. UB has concentrated the investment of Academic Excellence and Success Fee revenue to build these infrastructures for our students.

Student Benefits/Impact

With this research and educational paradigm provided in part by the Academic Excellence and Success Fee, UB is steadily expanding our stature, renown and impact. The world’s best and brightest faculty are increasingly coming to UB because they desire to be part of the cutting-edge research discoveries and breakthroughs. At the same time, UB’s transformational education is preparing our students to face the challenges confronting our world and to become the future leaders in their professions and communities. UB is steadily attracting more high-caliber students who are drawn by the unique opportunity to work directly with faculty at the forefront of their fields. For our graduates, the investments made with Academic Excellence and Success Fee revenue only further strengthens the value and distinction of a UB degree now and in years to come.

The Academic Excellence and Success Fee seeks to support innovative university initiatives that accelerate UB’s efforts to be recognized as one of the leading public research universities in the nation by strategic investments to support our faculty, students, staff and the entire academic enterprise.

Contact Information

Office of the Provost
562 Capen Hall
Monday - Friday; 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Specific Initiatives
AESF budget graph by functional area AESF budget graph by initiative area

The Academic Excellence and Success Fee generated $9,030,700 in revenue in 2015/16.

Expenditures – Building Key Student Service and Academic Infrastructures:

Student Services:

  • UB Finish in Four - UB instituted a Four-Year Graduation Plan to improve four- and six-year graduation rates. The plan included increasing the availability of high-demand, bottleneck service courses, enhancing advising, and rigorous monitoring of these students to track and enhance student success and the attainment of their degree objectives. To provide the services available under this Finish in Four Initiative, UB hired three additional academic advisors to monitor student progress and provide partial support for faculty, freeing these faculty to offer more course sections.
    • Half of UB students overall graduate debt-free – twice the national average.
    • Four in five freshman in the class of 2016 signed up for Finish in Four (double the rate who signed up in 2012, the program’s first year).
    • Among the students who signed up for Finish in Four in 2012, its inaugural year, 60% graduated on time (the national four-year graduate rate for public institutions is 34%).
    • Read more about the success of the UB Finish in Four Program:
  • UB’s Center for Excellence in Writing - UB hired faculty and support staff partially funded by AESF fee revenue to support specialized courses that improve writing skills of students engaged in a wide range of academic programs. The Center serves as an intellectual foundation for writing research, teaching, practice, and assessment, and for providing tutorial and workshop assistance to students.
  • Extended Library Hours – UB made undergraduate library facilities available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week by hiring the necessary support staff to supervise library facilities at all hours of the day.
  • Upgrade Classroom Facilities – The AESF has made it possible to add and upgrade technologies in centrally scheduled classrooms.
  • Heart of the Campus – UB has redesigned facilities at the center of the North Campus that once housed library books to create a new and integrated student service delivery model. A one-stop service counter and new teaching and learning facilities arranged in a fashion consistent with 21st century national best practice learning landscape precedents is currently underway. Fee revenues will fund new cybrary equipment, staff servicing for new facilities, and learning landscape furnishings and technologies.
  • Strategic Enrollment Management – UB has created and continues to enhance an enrollment management organization that strengthens the recruitment, retention, advisement and financial aid strategies of UB’s larger enrollment plan. Fee revenues support the infrastructures that analyze student flow through degree programs, changing trends in demand for degree programs, impact on the admissions funnel of new recruitment and financial aid strategies, and the reasons for student attrition or untimely graduation.

Research & Academic Initiatives:

  • Formation of the Department of Biomedical Informatics – This department was formed to develop new information systems and expand knowledge in the biomedical sciences. Areas of research include designing clinical information systems, mining EHRs, ontology, systems biology, integrating clinical and biological data and facilitating multidisciplinary and translational science. New degree granting programs include bachelors, masters, PhD and advanced certificate level programs.
  • Infrastructure Support for Research Strengths – This includes the establishment of a Research Advancement and Coordination Team (RAC) to ensure that research priorities are understood and supported at the highest level and a Multi-Investigator Research Support team (MRST) to support pursuing large multi-investigator research projects in our research strengths.
  • Establishment of Material Science and Engineering Program – Fee revenue helped to fund a new, internationally recognized Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) graduate degree program (MS, PhD) between the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
  • Strengthening of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership – Funds helped to improve the High-Tech CEL Program by providing workshops and guest speakers; grow the Panasci Technology Competition; and build the consulting practice within the Center.
  • E-Textbooks initiative – A program for the purchase of electronic versions of textbooks that are used in highly-enrolled classes at the University at Buffalo with goals of improving student learning, success, and satisfaction.
  • Establishment of the Institute for Strategic Enhancement of Educational Diversity (iSEED) – A university-wide entity created to provide funding and educational opportunity for underrepresented and disadvantaged students in post-baccalaureate programs across the disciplinary spectrum.
  • UB Energy Diversification Initiative – Funds supported marketing of the UB’s existing focus on energy research and ensured that the energy theme permeates all aspects of research and education at UB (degree programs, undergraduate research, work-force development, etc.).
  • Forming of A Human Capital Agenda for Educational and Economic Development Program – An innovative MA program in economics and educational policy was launched, with an international orientation designed for education leaders, as well as a visitors program. Resources from AESF were used to launch these projects and enable coordinated hiring of new faculty that would contribute to the project and its sustainability.
  • Establishment of the Built Environment, Health Behavior, and Health Outcomes Initiative - This project resulted in enhanced sponsored research, the launch of an innovative cross-school dual degree in planning and public health, and accelerated publications by faculty.
  • Center for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness – The Center produces top-quality research in organizational leadership and innovation, helps the School of Management attract and retain accomplished and promising researchers in the field, fosters research-practice collaborations with dynamic industries in Buffalo/WNY, and provides educational programs and opportunities for students at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels.
  • Formation of the Institute for Sustainable Transportation and Logistics (ISTL) – Fee revenue allows for faculty and students to research problems of direct relevance to society, while providing numerous opportunities for hands-on experiences. ISTL hosts a signature Master’s program, which offers a joint degree between SEAS and SOM, as well as a certificate in transportation, logistics and supply-chain management.
  • Establishment of Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering – The Masters + PhD program fills the pressing need for computational and data sciences as critical elements of scientific progress, economic competitiveness, and national security. Funds helped to engage and increase research/funding opportunities, hire two senior faculty of international stature and six junior faculty, and organize annual workshops and summer schools to develop a vibrant research and education program on campus.
  • Joining Forces: UB Partnership for Excellence in Veteran Care – This initiative created a collaboration between the UB Master of Social Work students and Doctor of Nursing Practice students to focus on training students interested in working with veterans and military families.

Is the Academic Excellence and Success Fee part of the Comprehensive Fee?

The Academic Excellence and Success Fee is not a part of the “bundled” Comprehensive Fee, however is considered a “broad-based fee.” Broad based fees are generally charged to all enrolled students to finance discrete activities that benefit the student body, excluding those activities that are a part of the core instructional program.

Is this fee included in the Broad-based Fee Student Consultation?

Yes. During the student consultation, there are many ways to become involved (MyUB, survey, Facebook, and your student representatives). Students have the opportunity to express thoughts regarding any of the broad-based fees at any time.

In the formative year of the UB NYSUNY 2020 program, multiple correspondences were sent to students in fall semester billing communications that announced the AESF program and its linkage to the larger NYSUNY 2020 program. The Vice President for University Life and Services and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education held an extended forum with student leaders in early December of 2011 to discuss UB NYSUNY 2020 and the Academic Excellence and Success Fee. The input from that meeting was that student leaders actively engaged in the discussion were supportive of the UB NYSUNY 2020 approach and encouraged continual, active dialogue with students in constructing future plans for tuition and fee revenue use. For UB students, the AESF was first charged in 2011 at an annual rate of $75 and was increase by $75 annually through 2015/16. The proposed annual increase for the 2017/18 academic year is $100 to the existing rate of $375.

Questions and comments regarding Broad-based Fees may be emailed to

Last updated: August 29, 2017 1:24 pm EST