About > History
OUR HISTORY SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
Despite its small beginnings, the IELI entered a period of rapid growth during the
1970s, increasing annual enrollment to 1,000 students by the end of the decade. In 1975,
the institute was transferred from the Division of Student Affairs to the Division of Academic
Affairs, in recognition that the institute had a legitimate place within the academic structure
of the university. While its focus was on preparing international students for study in the U.S.,
the IELI also developed several major outreach programs to benefit the local community, including
programs to assist Vietnamese refugees, Polish immigrants, and Jewish émigrés from the Soviet Union.
Since its founding, the ELI has regularly provided scholarships to deserving refugees and
immigrants in the Western New York area.
The Intensive English Language Institute (IELI)—as the institute was known from 1971 to 1995—developed
from the university's Foreign Student English Program (FSEP), which was established in 1963 to meet
the needs of the growing foreign student population at UB. In 1971 Stephen C. Dunnett, an
administrator and instructor in the FSEP, was appointed to organize and direct the newly created
institute as a year-round intensive English program at UB offering non-credit intensive English
training and orientation to foreign students preparing for university study.
The institute assumed responsibility for the credit-bearing courses in the FSEP,
thereafter referred to as the English as a Second Language Program. In addition to
providing ESL courses—the goal of which is to refine students' reading, writing, listening,
and speaking skills for academic and professional purposes—the ESL Program offers assistance
to university departments and the Office of International Admissions in evaluating students'
English language proficiency and in recommending appropriate ESL courses to improve students'
THE INSTITUTE GROWS STRONG
In 1980, the IELI formally became part of the Faculty of Educational Studies,
later the Graduate School of Education (GSE). In 1981, the institute took up residence
in its current home in Baldy Hall on the North Campus. During the 1980s, the IELI took
on an increasingly important role in developing international programs for the University
at Buffalo . Not long after the full normalization of relations with the People's Republic
of China in 1979, the institute established its first branch center overseas at the Beijing
Normal College of Foreign Languages. From 1986 to 1991, the IELI had a major part in the $20
million UB Cooperative Education Program with the Institut Teknologi MARA in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, which provided undergraduate courses to students who transferred to UB and other
U.S. institutions to complete their degrees.
Other branch centers of the institute were subsequently established in Jakarta,
Indonesia (1988); Taipei, Taiwan (1991); Phnom Penh, Cambodia (1991); Riga, Latvia (1992);
and Tuzla, Bosnia (1996). Most recently, the ELI developed and staffed the English language program
for the Economics and Business Administration Program at Konan University, UB's exchange partner
in Kobe, Japan .
In the 1990s, the institute's Evening Program was established to better serve area
professionals who need part-time English language instruction suited to their needs. In
addition, the institute collaborated with various university departments to diversify its
professional development programming. In 1995, the institute's name was changed to the English
Language Institute to reflect its broader mission; however, the ELI preserved its commitment to
excellent teaching, innovative curricula, individualized service to students, and outstanding
academic and cultural orientation programming. Since 1971, the ELI has trained thousands of
students, many of whom have gone on to study at UB. The institute has also provided a professional
apprenticeship for staff and instructors who have gone on to found their own English language
institutes, either in the U.S. or overseas, using the ELI as their model. In all of its activities,
the institute has contributed in an important way to making UB and Western New York better known
overseas, and to fostering mutual respect and understanding among the peoples of the world.