In 1871, when the Buffalo Normal School opened its doors to its first class, the school's sole purpose was to train teachers to serve Buffalo's fast-growing student population in the public schools. Now Buffalo State University is known for its strong community connections and a continuing commitment to providing high-quality lifelong learning opportunities.

1871 On September 13, the first day of classes, the complement of the new normal school consists of 86 students (75 women, 11 men), Principal Henry B. Buckham, 15 faculty members, and 195 children in the School of Practice. All are housed in the three-story Victorian building at Jersey and 13th Streets (now Normal Avenue) on Buffalo's West Side.

1873 The first class graduates.

1888 To accommodate growing enrollment, a science building is constructed behind the school and connected to it by a second-floor bridge. The school is now called the State Normal and Training School.

1894 A separate residence is built for the principal, then James M. Cassety.

1895 The State Normal and Training School initiates a three-year primary and kindergarten course.


1901 In just 30 years the enrollment has increased nearly tenfold to 828.

1905 High school graduation becomes a requirement for state normal school admission.

1906 The Industrial Arts Department of the State Teachers College at Albany is transferred to the normal school at Buffalo, where it is called Manual Arts Department. The rationale for the transfer is that Buffalo is a larger, more industrialized city and therefore has a greater need for vocational training teachers.

1910 The Household Arts Department opens with 75 applicants.

1914 Classes are moved to a large new home on Normal Avenue, a three-story building reminiscent of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, that is today Grover Cleveland High School.

1917 The first summer session and Saturday extension classes begin for practicing teachers.

1919 Dr. Harry W. Rockwell becomes principal of the State Normal School. The Home Economics Program becomes a four-year course leading to a bachelor of science degree.

1925 The normal course becomes a four-year program leading to a bachelor of science in education degree. The school has a combined enrollment of 3,000 in regular, summer, and extension classes.

1926 Catherine Reed is appointed the first dean of women, a position she will hold until 1955.

1928 The name of the institution is now the State Teachers College at Buffalo, and it is accredited by the American Association of Teachers Colleges. The Normal Avenue building that was supposed to accommodate the college until 1964 has proven to be too small, and ground is broken for a new campus on Elmwood Avenue, just north of the Buffalo State Hospital.


1930 The Art Education Department, the only one in the United States maintained under state auspices, is established.

1931 Students and faculty move to the new, five-building Elmwood Avenue campus.

1939 The college is accredited by the American Association of University Women.

1944 The Exceptional Education Department is founded, focusing primarily on physically challenged children.

1945 The State Education Department approves a proposal to grant the master of science in education degree.

1946 The institution, now called the New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo, receives a $1 million state allotment to build a library, industrial arts building, and science building, and to enlarge the gym and convert the old industrial arts building for use by the Home Economics Department.

1947 The Art Education Department, under the chairmanship of Dr. Stanley Czurles, is the largest in the United States.

1948 The State University of New York is formed. The college is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Pioneer Hall, the first dormitory, is built on the site of present-day Moot Hall.


1951 President Harry W. Rockwell retires. Dr. Harvey M. Rice is appointed president. The institution's affiliation with SUNY is reflected in its new name: The State University College for Teachers at Buffalo, with an enrollment of 2,033 full-time students, is now the largest teachers college in the state.

1952 The college acquires 435 acres of wooded land near Franklinville (later expanded to 617 acres) for the Whispering Pines College Camp. Original price: $6,500 (plus $43,000 for lodge).

1953 New extracurricular activities include Reader's Theatre, directed by Mina S. Goosen, and Children's Theatre, conducted by Julia C. Piquette.

1954 The curriculum expands with the addition of bachelor of science in education programs in early secondary education, including English, French, Spanish, mathematics, social studies, and general science.

1958 In response to a 1953 SUNY-wide order, six sororities and three fraternities on campus go independent of their national headquarters. The ban on national Greek affiliation remains in effect until 1977.

1959 Dr. Paul G. Bulger succeeds Dr. Harvey M. Rice, becoming the third president and sixth chief executive of the college.


1960 A committee on education convened by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller issues the Herald Report, a document that recommends, among other things, converting state teachers colleges into liberal arts colleges.

1961 Now known as the State University College of Education at Buffalo, the college becomes the first SUNY institution with a study-abroad program, Semester in Siena.

1962 The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredits the education programs.

1963 The college is authorized to offer bachelor of arts degrees in art, biology, chemistry, English, foreign language, geography, geosciences, history, mathematics, music, philosophy, and physics.

1966 The college acquires a 7.9-acre site at the foot of Porter Avenue for a freshwater field station. Nobel laureate Edward Teller comes to campus for the dedication of the 50-seat planetarium. The Burchfield Art Center opens.

1967 Dr. E. K. Fretwell is inaugurated as president. Buffalo State participates in the newly organized Educational Opportunity Program (EOP/SEEK) and has the largest enrollment (more than 600) in Western New York.

1969 New degree programs include the bachelor of science in industrial technology, developed by Dr. Myron E. Lewis; the bachelor of science in home economics; the bachelor of arts in psychology and political science; and the master of arts in chemistry, biology, and philosophy.


1970 Students take over Rockwell Hall in early May to protest the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the student deaths at Kent State. When considerable damage is done to the campus, President Fretwell decides to close the college for the semester on May 7. Students milling on Elmwood Avenue are dispersed by police with tear gas.

1971 Muhammad Ali is a featured speaker at the third annual Black Arts Festival, sponsored by the Black Liberation Front Board, and actress Mildred Dunnock appears in two performances of A Place without Doors in Upton Hall Auditorium. The bachelor of fine arts degree is approved.

1972 A record 2,792 students receive degrees at commencement exercises in Memorial Auditorium, ending the college's centennial year.

1975 The master of science degree in creative studies is authorized.

1975 Social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (the first social work program in Western New York to be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education).

1977 The college receives permission to grant master of science degrees in criminal justice and clinical dietetics.

1979 Dr. D. Bruce Johnstone is appointed president.


1983 The graduate Art Conservation Department, one of only three in the United States, moves to Buffalo State from the State University College at Oneonta. Also, the Bulger Lifelong Learning Center is dedicated in response to the growing needs of nontraditional students.

1984 The college offers a master of science degree in bilingual exceptional education.

1986 Social Work becomes a free-standing department.

1987 The Festival of Five, a series of gala arts events, marks the grand reopening of a newly renovated Rockwell Hall.

1989 Dr. F. C. Richardson becomes president, succeeding Dr. D. Bruce Johnstone, who becomes chancellor of the SUNY system. The posts of both provost and vice president for institutional advancement are created.


1991 The $19 million Sports Arena is opened. Also, Butler Library's SHERLOCK online catalog goes into service.

1992 Ground is broken for an expanded and renovated Great Lakes field station at the Porter Avenue site. The college is authorized to offer the bachelor of science degree in health and wellness.

1993 Three commencement ceremonies in the new Sports Arena mark the first time graduation has been held on campus in 23 years.

1994 The men's ice hockey team, formerly a club, becomes an NCAA Division III varsity team. In recognition of Charles Rand Penney's contributions, the Burchfield Art Center is renamed the Burchfield-Penney Art Center.

1995 A new master's program leads to a multidisciplinary degree in Great Lakes environmental studies. The college is a key participant in Project Connect, a multischool experiment in distance learning.

1996 The college celebrates its quasquicentennial. Dr. Muriel A. Moore (now Howard) is appointed the seventh president of the 125-year-old institution.

1997 The Center for Health and Social Research is established.

1998 The Frank C. Moore Student Apartment Complex opens in a fully renovated former dormitory. The on-campus facility includes family units for students with children. The master of science in adult education degree debuts. Retired U.S. Army General and soon-to-be Secretary of State Colin Powell participates in 11th annual Academic Convocation and accepts the SUNY honorary doctorate of laws degree.

1999 First women's ice hockey team joins Intercollegiate Athletics. Burchfield-Penney Art Center hosts record-breaking Frank Lloyd Wright: Windows of the Darwin D. Martin House exhibit.



The Undergraduate Research Office and the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies are established.

Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic reopens in a renovated 4,500-square-foot facility in Caudell Hall.

Center for China Studies is established to foster international research and learning opportunities with Chinese universities.


State-of-the-art enrollment management center opens in the fully renovated and expanded Moot Hall, consolidating student admissions, registration, and financial services.

Professor Emeritus Hank Mann announces $1 million planned gift to benefit exceptional education.

Center for Excellence in Urban and Rural Education is established.

The Barnes & Noble at Buffalo State Bookstore opens in a new wing of the Campbell Student Union.

New bachelor of music in music education degree is approved.


A $1 million gift from 1950 alumna Eleanore Woods Beals and her husband, Vaughn Beals, creates the Woods-Beals Chair in Urban and Rural Education, the college's first endowed chair.

Three new programs are offered in museum studies, including a graduate-level advanced certificate.

The fully renovated Campus House reopens as a faculty/staff club, operated by hospitality students.


The Warren Enters Theatre in Upton Hall is completely renovated and rededicated to Professor Emeritus Warren Enters.


The Volunteer and Service Learning Center, administered though the Career Development Center, coordinates students and provides training and orientation for service-learning projects.


The Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall, re-opens after major technological upgrades and refurbishments.

Men’s basketball coach Dick Bihr retires after an illustrious 25-year career.


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton gives the keynote address as the spring commencement ceremony.

The Dick Smith Teaching Pavilion opens at the Great Lakes Center on Buffalo’s waterfront.


Freshmen applications hit a 15-year high. 

WBNY-FM celebrates 25 years as Buffalo’s Original Alternative with New Media Weekend.


The college completes construction on the new $33 million Burchfield Penney Art Center. 

New residential and retail dining centers open inside the Campbell Student Union. 


Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) speaks at the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall.

Muriel A. Howard, president of Buffalo State for the past 13 years, accepts the position of president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

Buffalo State embarks on an ambitious roster of capital projects that will result in nearly $350 million of new projects and improvements to campus by 2014.



Aaron Podolefsky becomes the eighth president of Buffalo State on July 1, 2010.


President Podolefsky declares the 2011-2012 academic year to be the Year of the Arts at Buffalo State.

The Robert A. and Dorothy Stender Sweet Physics Scholarship Fund is established with a $1.7 million bequest—the largest gift specifically designated for scholarships in the university's history.

The master of public administration (M.P.A.) in public and nonprofit management is launched.

Ground is broken on the new, $38 Million Technology Building. • The Chronicle of Higher Education selects Buffalo State as a "Great College to Work For."

Buffalo State's Siena Program, the oldest continuous study-abroad program in the SUNY system, celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Buffalo State creates three new education departments: Adult Education, Career and Technical Education, and Social and Psychological Foundations of Education.


Buffalo State is named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

President Podolefsky declares the 2012-2013 academic year to be the Year of the City at Buffalo State.

The Chronicle of Higher Education selects Buffalo State as a "Great College to Work For."

The college marks the beginning of an historic $20 million fundraising campaign, Transforming Lives: A Campaign for Buffalo State.


Buffalo State signs agreements to establish a joint bachelor's/master's degree program with Capital Normal University in Beijing, China.

A renovated and expanded space for the Art Conservation Department on the third floor of Rockwell Hall opens.

The Fashion and Textile Technology Department forms an exchange with Beijing University in Beijing, China.

The 16th annual Foundation Scholarship Gala is held on Saturday, April 20. At the event, the All College Honors program is officially being named the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program.

President Podolefsky declares the 2013-2014 academic year to be the Year of the Teacher at Buffalo State.

Buffalo State confers degrees on more than 2,030 undergraduate and 600 graduate students during its 141st Commencement celebration, Saturday, May 18.

President Podolefsky steps down as the college’s eighth president, effective July 31, 2013.

Howard Cohen, chancellor emeritus of Purdue University Calumet is appointed interim president beginning August 1, 2013.


The Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) of Western New York, administered through the Great Lakes Center at Buffalo State opens.

Transforming Lives campaign surpasses $20 million goal.

Buffalo State confers degrees on more than 2,050 undergraduate and approximately 600 graduate students during its 142nd Commencement celebration, May 17.

The State University of New York Board of Trustees appoints Katherine S, Conway-Turner, Ph.D., as the ninth president of Buffalo State.

Buffalo State celebrates the theme Year of the Innovator for the 2014-2015 academic year

Art Conservation program receives $1.25 million grant from Mellon Foundation.

Buffalo State celebrates the completion of $25.7 million in renovations to Houston Gymnasium with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 17

Katherine S. Conway-Turner is formally installed as the ninth president of Buffalo State at an inauguration ceremony held October 21. Conway-Turner's inaugural theme is "Reaching for the Stars: Engagement, Excellence, and Social Responsibility."

For the eighth time, Buffalo State is named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to volunteering, service learning, and civic engagement.


Buffalo State receives the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo appoints Linda A. Dobmeier, ’71, as chair of the Buffalo State Council. Dobmeier succeeds Howard Zemsky.

Buffalo State hosts 17th annual Student Research and Creativity Celebration.

The college confers degrees on 1,979 undergraduate and 505 graduate students during its 143rd commencement celebration.

Dorothy Ferguson, president of the Ferguson Family Foundation, is named chair of the Buffalo State Foundation Inc. Board of Directors replacing Paul J. Lamparelli, ’82.

Buffalo State receives 'INSIGHT Into Diversity' award for third year.

Campus Child Care Center celebrates 40th anniversary.

Roar in 4, completion initiative is launched. 

The Horace Mann Quad (formerly Rockwell Quad), located on the east side of the Savage Building and adorned with a small garden and sculpture, is formally dedicated to honor Horace “Hank” Mann.

Campus marks successful completion of Transforming Lives: A Campaign for Buffalo State. 


College unveils Bengal Pride Scholarship program. 

Great Lakes Center celebrates 50th anniversary. 

Buffalo State confers degrees on 1,938 undergraduate and 489 graduate students during 144th commencement celebration. 

New master’s program in public relations is launched.

Governor Andrew Cuomo appoints Leslie Zemsky to the Buffalo State Council.

College ranks 26th nationally in Washington Monthly magazine’s 2016 master’s universities rankings. Buffalo State receives 'INSIGHT Into Diversity' award for fourth year.

The Washington Center honors Buffalo State with prestigious Civic Engagement Award. 

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) honors college with Excellence and Innovation Award winners. 

For the eighth time, Buffalo State is named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. 

Student Art Sale celebrates 20th anniversary. 

Buffalo State receives a $4 million gift from the Richard E. and Patricia H. Garman family of Western New York to support the college’s distinguished Art Conservation Department marking the largest one-time gift to the college.


Governor Andrew Cuomo visits college to discuss Rally for Student Tuition Initiative.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announces completion of $27.6 million in renovations to Caudell Hall. The hall houses multiple departments at Buffalo State, including Hospitality and Tourism, Social Work, Speech-Language Pathology, and Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics.

Buffalo State confers degrees on 1,752 undergraduate and 509 graduate students during 145th commencement celebration. 

College receives $2.7 million through cooperation with Cornell on EPA Project. 

Child Care Center earns national NAEYC accreditation. 

Art Conservation receives $2.1 million Mellon grant. 

Runway fashion shows celebrates 10th anniversary.


Student Research and Creativity Conference celebrates 20th year. 

Buffalo State confers degrees on 1,900 undergraduate and 683 graduate students during its 146th commencement celebration. 

Homecoming 2018: Bengals Unite! Homecoming Around the World, held September 23-30. 

Buffalo State holds a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the new $6.9 million Jacqueline Vito LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center. 

Bishop Hall returns to its original identity as a residence hall when it reopens following a year-long, $16-million renovation. 

Buffalo State is selected as an inaugural member of the Higher Education Anchor Mission Initiative. 

As part of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s $15 million clean energy workforce development initiative, Buffalo State receives a $753,000 grant to develop clean energy certificate programs. 

Buffalo State is named an Excellence and Innovation Award winner by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).


New theme announced for Buffalo State: Believe. Inspire. Achieve. 

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson announces Buffalo State will play leading role in new systemwide initiative: Promoting Recruitment, Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Growth (PRODI-G). 

Buffalo State moves up 19 spots to enter the top 100 of CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) national rankings. The college ranks 82nd nationally in the SMI out of 1,380 benchmarked schools. 

The Nutrition Education Counseling Center (NECC) opens in Caudell Hall, offers individual nutrition evaluation and counseling, group nutrition sessions, cooking demonstrations, and more.

Buffalo State confers degrees on more than 1,830 undergraduate and 580 graduate students during its 147th commencement celebration. Jesse L. Martin, actor and singer, receives a SUNY honorary doctor of fine arts degree and delivers the commencement address at all three ceremonies. Holocaust survivor and noted educator Sophia Vetter receives a SUNY honorary doctorate. 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides a $2.9 million, 22-month investment to support the newly established Buffalo College Success Network and other efforts to help students—with special emphasis on those from communities of color and who are from low-income households—make successful transitions from high school to college. 

The college receives over $500,000 from National Science Foundation to support development of high-quality instructional resources to improve student learning outcomes. 

New master’s in Data Science and Analytics launched. 

Buffalo State announces B.A., faculty hires in Africana Studies. 

Buffalo State is the highest-ranked four-year college in Western New York, according to Washington Monthly magazine’s 2019 “Best Bang for the Buck Colleges in the Northeast” ratings.

Hundreds of Buffalo State faculty, staff, and students serve the community during Bengals Dare to Care Day. 

2019 Homecoming and Family Weekend celebrates Bengal Fever theme.

Congressman Brian Higgins announces $1.625 million in federal funding to Buffalo State projects focused on Buffalo’s West Side.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes announces $500,000 to launch a Buffalo State teacher pipeline project to increase teacher diversity in the K-12 sector.



Congressman Brian Higgins announces $350,000 for the Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department.

The Communication Department is reaccredited for its bachelor’s degree programs in journalism, public relations and advertising, and media production. Buffalo State is one of only 117 schools in the country to hold the prestigious ACEJMC accreditation.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 22nd annual Student Research and Creativity Conference, featuring the scholarly and creative academic works of more than 200 Buffalo State students, is presented in an entirely web-based format.

Buffalo State establishes the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship to lift up future African American leaders who support racial justice and equity efforts in their communities.

Buffalo State receives the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. This marks the eighth year in a row that the college has been named a HEED recipient.

Buffalo State confers degrees on more than 1,800 undergraduate and 800 graduate students during its 148th Commencement celebration, which is presented virtually for the first time.

Sencere Trust Jones is awarded Buffalo State’s first $10,000 George Floyd Memorial Scholarship.

The 12th annual Anne Frank Project (AFP) social justice festival is held remotely under the theme “Transformation through Innovation.”

In her State of the College address, President Conway-Turner lauds campus response to pandemic, other 2020 challenges.

Bengals Dare to Care 2020, a reformatted version of the annual Bengals Dare to Care Day, provides a month-long opportunity for students, faculty, and staff members to listen, learn, and participate in a number of social justice initiatives.

Buffalo State is again recognized by CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) national rankings. The college ranks 35th nationally in the SMI out of 1,449 benchmarked schools.


Buffalo State celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary with a year-long celebration featuring special events, speakers, performances, athletic competitions, and more.

Buffalo State receives Business First IDEA Award for diversity efforts.

College holds a contest to rewrite the lyrics of Buffalo State's alma mater for the institution's 150th anniversary.

Buffalo State and Orange County Community College (SUNY Orange) co-host the “Confronting Racism in America” lecture by Anti-racism scholar, professor, author, and historian Ibram X. Kendi.

Sixteen-year-old first-year student Jeremiah Simon is awarded the college’s second George Floyd Memorial Scholarship.

Buffalo State named "Voter Friendly Campus" by two national nonpartisan organizations: the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

Six graphic design students take home one gold and six silver awards in the 2021 American Advertising Federation (AAF) Buffalo competition.

College approves a new bachelor’s degree program—a political science/law 3+3 combined pathway—between the Political Science and Public Administration Department and the University at Buffalo School of Law.

Bengalathon 2021, a fundraiser designed to provide emergency financial assistance and academic scholarships for its students, airs on Saturday, April 24.

The Runway fashion show highlights the accomplishments of past and present Black fashion designers with “History Retailored” a virtual platform. 

Buffalo State confers degrees on roughly 1,650 undergraduate and 700 graduate students during its 149th Commencement celebration on Saturday, May 15. The celebration is presented virtually. Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the United States Library of Congress, receives a State University of New York honorary doctor of humane letters and delivers the Commencement address.

The 23rd annual Student Research and Creativity Conference (SRCC) features almost 150 research papers, posters, oral presentations, and other applied-learning projects.

A record 172 new students—160 freshmen and 12 transfer students—enter the Muriel A. Howard Honors (MAH) Program.

Five Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students are chosen for SUNY Pre-Med Opportunity Program, a new SUNY-wide initiative aimed at helping qualified EOP students successfully prepare for medical school.

Buffalo State ranks 34th out of 1,550 benchmarked colleges and universities in CollegeNET’s Social Mobility Index (SMI) for 2021.


Trini E. Ross, U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York, delivers a talk as the 2022 MLK speaker.

Campus House celebrates 20 years as a teaching lab and private dining club.

Great Lakes Center Awarded $3 Million from EPA in Collaboration with Cornell University.

Alumna leaves a $2.1 million gift to Speech-Language Pathology.

Buffalo State confers degrees on roughly 1,500 undergraduate and 725 graduate students during its 150th Commencement celebration.

Buffalo State’s 25th annual Bengala raises a record amount for scholarship funds—almost $500,000—for the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program.

UPD Earns Reaccreditation from State Criminal Justice Council.

Intercollegiate Athletics announces plans to add three new sports—acrobatics and tumbling, women’s wrestling, and men’s volleyball—over the next two years.

Buffalo State ranks high in ‘Best Bang for the Buck’ List: Ranked 27th out of 350 four-year colleges and universities in the Northeast region, making it both the highest-ranked college in Western New York and in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.

U.S. News & World Report ranks Buffalo State a top performer on social mobility.

Buffalo State earns national recognition for voter registration campaigns in Washington Monthly’s 2022 Best Colleges for Student Voting.

Student Art Sale returns for 25th year.

President Katherine Conway-Turner announces her retirement.


Buffalo State formally recognized as a university.

The Arbor Day Foundation officially recognizes Buffalo State as part of its 2022 Tree Campus Higher Education program for the university’s commitment to effective urban forest management and dedication to including green spaces on campus.

5/14 Memorial Scholarship created for students from East Side neighborhood.

Buffalo State University confers degrees on nearly 1,300 undergraduate and more than 500 graduate students during its 151st Commencement celebration.

Bonita Durand Named Officer in Charge.

Buffalo State’s accreditation is reaffirmed by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Buffalo State welcomes largest incoming class of last three years.

Donn Youngstrom Global Learning Lab connects students worldwide.