Couple's Bequest Will Make a World of Difference at UB
Roberta, MLS '74, BA '70, and George Stevens have two reasons for giving to the University at Buffalo: To help students experience international travel and to help future ophthalmology patients also be able to see the world.
The couple recently made a $2 million bequest commitment, also known as a gift in your will or trust, to UB. Once realized, half of the bequest will go toward vision research — particularly studies of macular degeneration, which is prevalent in Roberta's family — in the Department of Ophthalmology.
The other half will be designated to support study abroad for students in the College of Arts and Sciences.
'Understanding Our Place in the World'
Travel has competed in the past with the couple's busy schedules. George works for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Roberta, a former president of the American Library Association, recently retired as an outreach officer at the Library of Congress. But they found time to visit many nations around the globe and can attest to the importance of seeing the world.
"Experiencing other countries firsthand," Roberta says, "is the most direct route to fully understanding our place in the world. It allows us to get to know the business, culture, intellectual dynamics and physical surroundings of these countries. To be competitive, we cannot rest on our laurels. We have to understand how we compete with other nations, and to do that, we have to know how they function."
For that reason, she adds, the couple is giving to UB students, who especially need to experience actual – not virtual — travel.
"This gift is aimed at ensuring UB students will become more aware of the world around us and not just through social media, that they can go and see how nations function," she says. "We hope the fund this gift establishes will allow students to broaden their educational experiences and enrich their career opportunities through study outside of the United States."
A Disease That Hits Close to Home
Giving to the ophthalmology department also has special meaning for Roberta, who witnessed family members struggling with hereditary retinal and macular degeneration. She, along with George, hope to "lessen the likelihood of others experiencing its effects."
"My father and all of his siblings have suffered from it. So I've been very aware of the research in that area because it affects such a large number of individuals in their later years. We have more people living to advanced age and it has become a concern for more people," Roberta says. "The goal of this gift will be to establish a fund that supports vision research leading to treatments that reduce or eliminate these diseases."