When I think of Carol and Bill Greiner, I have fond memories of my interactions with them while I was an undergraduate student at the University at Buffalo (UB). Studying psychology, political science, and music performance at UB for three and one-half years provided me with many opportunities for interactions with the Greiners. It enriched my life to have them there, to be excellent role models, to experience their interest in and compassion for students. As I walk down my nostalgic memory lane, I can accept and be happy with the interactions that I had with the Greiners at many university events, though I will always feel a sense of “unfinished business” due to the things that I was unable to bring myself to say to them.
For that, I wish I had been more mature, more open, more able to trust that I would receive a response from them that I desired. Of all of the wonderful events and experiences that I had as a student at UB, there was one situation that occurred about which I was unable to speak with them – being the victim of a crime on campus. I still wish I could have had more time to speak with them, and be able to open up to Carol about it, in particular, but at the time, it was too recent, too painful, too embarrassing and humiliating. It took me years to fully address and come to terms with what had occurred, and to receive the support that I needed. And, it was years later when I was able to disclose to Carol, anonymously, about my experience, which was helpful, but still not the same as speaking about it in person.
Something in me needed Carol to know what I experienced; I had hoped the Greiners might be able to implement programs or policies that would have better-protected students such as myself who had experienced what I did. Never having shared about what it was provided no potential for change, improvement, or support for other UB students who had the same experience. Perhaps, one day, I will not feel that sense of regret and loss about being unable to speak with the Greiners about the traumatic and life-changing crime that I experienced in my last semester as an undergraduate student at UB.
I first met Bill Greiner when he was the University Provost and I was a freshman, just taking flight as a student at UB. He was at an event that welcomed students who were new to UB; my parents were there too, and my mom encouraged me to speak with him, and I did. At first, I was intimidated about speaking with him, though when I did, he made me feel comfortable and welcome; he made me feel understood, appreciated, and respected. The highlight of the event, in fact, was personally speaking with Bill. I still remember the confidence he instilled in me in only a few minutes of conversation that I would do well and be successful at UB; I appreciated that.
Within two years, Bill was appointed President of UB. That semester, I saw and spoke with him again at Homecoming. At that time, the Homecoming parade was organized at the Main Street Campus in Buffalo, and the floats were driven to the Amherst Campus. I was a representative of the UB Irish Club for Homecoming that year, in 1991; and was pleased to see and speak with Bill there. His presence reflected his interest in and concern for students; that was evident and obvious, and again, was something for which I was appreciative. As time progressed, I determined that these qualities were infused in his character and personality. He did not just go to some rare event on occasion; he was actively involved in attending and participating in UB events, many of them, jointly, with Carol.
That year and the next, I saw both Bill and Carol at the Homecoming football games; and I saw and/or spoke with Bill on at least three other occasions on the Amherst Campus during my last semester. On one occasion, I saw him while he was being interviewed in the Plaza by a TV reporter; on a second, I overcame my nervousness and visited Bill at his office, taking many gladioli from my family garden; and on the third, I spoke with him as we happened to be leaving Capen Hall at the same time one evening. ‘Team Greiner’ was always there, doing more than their part to make UB even more of a success.
In my last semester at a senior at UB, Bill was inaugurated as President, and I saw alot more of the Greiners. In fact, I saw them at so many events that I looked forward to seeing and speaking with them, and I actually expected them to be at the events that I attended. It seemed that everywhere I went, ‘Team Greiner’ was there, too. The supportive actions of Bill and Carol toward UB, and the students, faculty, and staff were warmly-welcomed and appreciated by so many.
In September 1992, Bill’s Inauguration Week as President of UB provided opportunities not only to speak with Bill and Carol, but also to experience the happiness and joy of those events with them. There was a Roman Catholic Mass performed at St. Joseph’s Church, right next to the UB Main Street Campus in Buffalo to essentially “kick off” Inauguration Week. I made every effort to attend because it had been the night before that I had experienced crime victimization at UB; I was already traumatized from it, but did not realize or deal with it.
Additionally, at St. Joseph’s Church following the mass, I was also able to meet and speak with certain other members of the Greiner Family, including his sons and their wives and/or significant partners. It was wonderful to have the feeling that the qualities of both care and compassion so evident in Carol and Bill had also been transferred to their admirable offspring. In speaking with their adult children, one immediately knew that they did a fine job at parenting.
As Bill’s Inauguration Week progressed, I attended what I recall as being a symphonic concert on campus to celebrate his achievement; it was beautiful. And, I also attended Bill’s Inauguration as the 13th President of UB, an event for which I remember arriving very early because I wanted my choice selection of seat, as well as to scope out the best locations to take pictures to add tangibility to my fond memories. Again, I had opportunities to see and speak with members of the Greiner Family.
Following the actual Inauguration was a reception that was held in the new Student Union building, one of many major projects that Bill influenced and completed at UB. By this time, I really felt a connection with the Greiner’s and their family. I had seen and interacted with them at several events, and believed that I could trust being more openly, emotionally vulnerable with them. I had particularly wanted to share about the crime that I had experienced only a few days prior to the Inauguration. I tried to do so at the reception, separately, with Carol, and with Terry, one of the Greiners’ sons, but I could not bring myself to do it. I had psyched myself up for it, but talked myself out of doing it, and have always regretted it; it was just too painful and traumatic.
As someone who was active in numerous UB clubs and groups, including ethnic/language-related groups and student government, I received invitations to attend the Student Association’s Christmas parties for two consecutive years, in 1991 and 1992. On both of those occasions, I saw Bill and Carol, but spoke with them only at the second such event. By then, three more months had passed, and I had mentally-buried and not dealt with the crime that I had experienced. It was also at this event that I asked Bill if he would write a recommendation for me. He asked me to see that he received my resume, said that he would write a recommendation for me, and he did. I still have and cherish it.
Prior to finishing the last of my classes as an undergraduate student at UB in December 1992, I again saw and spoke with Carol and Bill at a Christmas Concert, held in the Ellicott Complex, my group of dormitory buildings on the Amherst Campus. Following the Christmas Concert, Carol was very warm toward me, much as always, and spoke with me about alot in a short time. She made me feel important, valued, and accepted; she showed to me much warmth, understanding, and compassion, like one would receive from a good mother, and much as I do with my own son.
I felt such a connection with Carol during our conversation, and remember wishing that it could last forever. I needed the warmth and compassion of someone; and I privately thanked God for her, and for her to have treated me as kindly and lovingly as she did. Interestingly, Bill was somewhat of a sour puss that evening and I could tell that he did not want to talk, though I did not allow that to dampen my happy holiday spirits. I remember wondering how anyone could seem so grouchy after such a wonderful and festive holiday concert. It was a different side of him that I had not yet experienced and had not expected, but accepted on that occasion.
The last time that I interacted with the Greiner’s was when I returned to UB for my graduation in May 1993. I had completed my coursework for my two baccalaureate degrees in December, moved to and was working in Manhattan, and came back to participate in the graduation ceremonies. I’m glad that I did, and I have many wonderful memories of celebrating my accomplishment with many of my student colleagues as well as my family. Seeing the Greiners again at this event showed me how much I had grown in a few months of having finished my studies, though it also left me with a longing and nostalgia for maintaining a connection with them. It was difficult and painful to let go.
The final time that I saw the Greiners was at SUNY Day in Albany in 1999. SUNY Day is a day that is arranged for student delegates of State University of New York system to go Albany, New York – the state capitol – to meet and speak with state government representatives, receive tours of their offices, and hear lectures. At the time, I was taking undergraduate courses at Buffalo State College to complete my social studies teacher certification, and I was a student government representative to the event.
It was at SUNY Day that I met former Assembly Member Sam Hoyt from Buffalo; he invited me to intern in his Buffalo office, and I later did, having an outstanding experience. It was also on this occasion that I only saw Bill and Carol from a distance in a conference room as I was already seating in the back with my group when they entered with several UB student athletes. It was good to see them again, if only from a distance, and to know that ‘Team Greiner’ was still hard at work for UB.
I lost touch with the Greiners many years ago. They were people with whom I had hoped to maintain a connection, and to share about the traumatic crime that I had experienced. There was one occasion more than four years after I was victimized that I got the courage to go to the Greiners’ home. At the time, I worked just down the street from them at Key Bank.
This time, I had resolved that I would tell them about it, and had hoped and prayed that they would welcome me, but they were not at home. They had the power and influence to make change at UB to help other students who were survivors of traumatic crimes that occurred on campus, as well as to help see that such crimes were prevented and students were educated about them. I never got the chance to share my ideas with them.
Around that time, and due to being unable to speak with the Greiners about my concerns, I decided to take my concerns to their son, Terry, at his office in Buffalo. I am an individual who likes to get things accomplished, and to do so personally, and therefore, my aim was to personally-share information with him about what I experienced and request that there could be some way that improvements related to it could be made for other students at UB who had the same or similar experiences. It took so much courage and initiative for me to go to Terry’s office, but he turned me away, did not speak with me, and did not accept me into his office. I was devastated, and felt re-victimized all over again.
I do, however, fondly remember the many events and interactions that I shared with Carol and Bill; and I prefer to remember those. At the time of my writing of this article, it will have been nearly four years since Bill’s death. When I read the news about his passing in the UB alumni magazine, it was unexpected and saddening. To Carol, I mailed a sympathy card, expressing my condolences. I am sure that such a great man is missed by those who knew him, especially his family, who took priority in his life, much as family should.
So, I would like to think – at this time of the holidays – that Bill is looking down over us and helping us to spread holiday cheer to each other. I would like to think and remember that he would have been right in the mix of all that, and would not have missed it for anything. Thanks, ‘Team Greiner,’ for all you have done for me, and for all of your unfathomable support to UB. You are UB’s unsurpassed champions! 🙂
“Bill Greiner.” Wikipedia, 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Greiner
DellaContrada, J. (2009). William R. Greiner Dies. Buffalo, NY: UB – University at Buffalo: News Releases.
State University of New York at Buffalo Graduation, May 1993. Buffalo, NY.
This article was also published by both the UB Alumni Association on LinkedIn (December 2013). Mountain View, CA: LinkedIn; and by the State University of New York at Buffalo business group on LinkedIn (December 2013). Mountain View, CA: LinkedIn.