Buffalo State opened its doors as the Buffalo Normal School in 1871, thanks to the efforts of community leaders. Buffalo State has been paying the community back ever since.
When President Aaron Podolefsky declared academic year 2012–2013 the Year of the City, he provided Buffalo State with the opportunity to demonstrate its deep and longstanding commitment to, and cooperation with, the city that is its home. Besides maintaining a campus in Buffalo for 141 years, Buffalo State has provided essential services to the city’s residents, schools, cultural institutions, and not-for-profits through a myriad of partnerships.
Through service-learning courses, research, collaborative agreements, internships, and direct community involvement, Buffalo State has a symbiotic relationship with Buffalo that benefits both the city and Buffalo State.
"From the research at the Great Lakes Center Field Station on Buffalo’s waterfront to the support we commit to cultural institutions such as the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, our faculty and students learn from, and give to, this wonderful city," said Mark Severson, dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences. Severson is the chair of the Year of the City Planning Committee.
This semester, Buffalo State’s Professional Development School Consortium has 22 agreements with area schools, 13 of which are in the city of Buffalo. "Not only are we in the schools," said Wendy Paterson, dean of the School of Education, "we are in grocery stores and afterschool programs—anywhere there are kids and families who need support."
Paterson is referring to the Global Book Project, which begins its sixth semester this fall at Wegmans on Amherst Street. Through this project, Buffalo State students help neighborhood children develop their reading skills. At the Community Academic Center on Grant Street, Buffalo State faculty, staff, and students work with neighborhood youth and community organizations.
Students in Buffalo State’s dietetics and nutrition program undertake practicums as part of their preparation to become registered dietitians, and as a result, they learn—and help—at local hospitals and nursing homes. The social work program also requires students to complete fieldwork; this year, students will work in more than 20 Buffalo agencies including City Mission, the Northwest Buffalo Community Center, and People, Inc. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Buffalo State assists entrepreneurs in creating and maintaining small businesses. In 2011–2012, counselors at the SBDC provided one-on-one counseling to 895 entrepreneurs.
Buffalo State’s fine and performing arts departments present more than 30 concerts, plays, dance performances, and art exhibitions each year. The Art Conservation Department’s faculty and students work with area museums to conserve the treasures they contain, and art education students work on many projects, including Empty Bowls. In May 2012, Empty Bowls raised more than $3,000 for the Western New York Food Bank and Friends of the Night People.
In addition to the many collaborations between Buffalo State and its surrounding community, Buffalo State’s presence between Elmwood Avenue and Grant Street is an enormous economic boon for the city. Besides bringing about 13,000 people to Elmwood Village and the Grant/Amherst neighborhood for much of the year, construction projects on campus are employing more than 300 workers this year. And about 60 percent of Buffalo State alumni—more than 58,000 people—make Western New York their home.
"Every year at Buffalo State is the Year of the City," said Severson. "This year, we’re celebrating it."
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