Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner reflected on the highlights of the past year and presented goals for a brighter future during her 2022 Fall Address on October 18 in the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s Tower Auditorium.
The speech was the final campuswide address for Conway-Turner, who announced in September that she will retire at the end of the 2022–2023 academic year, following nine years at the helm of Buffalo State.
Before her speech, Conway-Turner asked the audience to observe a moment of silence for Tyler Lewis, the 19-year-old sophomore pre-business major who was killed on the University at Buffalo North campus on October 14.
She then thanked members of the campus community for their work over the past year, both in the many ways they recognized the college’s 150th anniversary and their contributions to navigating return-to-campus operations following the coronavirus pandemic.
After touching on the “financial storm” the campus is facing, Conway-Turner laid out her ideas to stabilize Buffalo State moving forward, including a goal of increasing overall enrollment by 15 percent over the next four years.
“Our entering class of first-year students is quite stable,” she said. “Our energy must be lodged toward the retention of our students to impact overall enrollment. Every interaction with our students must be deliberative and aimed at the success of our students. This goal also includes increasing populations of transfer students, out-of-state students, international students, and non-traditional students. Enrollment Management, in lock step with Academic Affairs and support units, will continue to address how to move forward to meet these goals.”
She also addressed the priorities of the new Financial Sustainability Plan to secure the mission and future success of Buffalo State, beginning with understanding how to approach an ever-changing student body.
“This is my 43rd year in higher education,” she said, “and I have seen students change from every vantage point.”
While she noted that many students soar to the highest levels of accomplishment at Buffalo State, others do not.
“We have many students that, if we are not vigilant, fail to find their wings or are not ready at this moment in their life trajectory to soar,” she said.
She emphasized that this challenge provides an opportunity for everyone who comes into contact with students.
“The priority of stable enrollment and meeting the goal set in our sustainability plan will require collaborative work and innovative student support so that a larger portion of our students will soar,” she said.
She then talked about priorities that will help carry Buffalo State into a financially stable future, including state and federal advocacy; continued fundraising for scholarships and emergency funds; and workforce planning.
She addressed the new Strategic Plan, which was approved by the College Council at its October 4 meeting and is intended to stabilize the college over the next four years. It is based on five pillars:
- Commitment to access, equity and social justice, and belonging
- The land we occupy as an urban-engaged anchor campus
- A shared vision for student success
- Professional success for faculty and staff
- Sustainability for a better future
She wrapped up her address by focusing on Buffalo State’s gradual shift from a college to a university. SUNY trustees recently approved a new definition of university that is applicable to some comprehensive college; the plan was approved by the New York Board of Regents earlier this year.
“As we move forward, we are committed to maintaining our mission and the feel of a college while embracing university as a means to advance international recruitment, to gain traction in receiving competitive grants, to join broader collaborations where the university label may be advantageous, and to compete strongly for new untapped markets of students within a competitive market,” she said.
“As a campus that believes in the power of a strong head and a strong heart, let us all commit to championing a resilient and collaborative spirit as we move forward.”
Photos by Jesse Steffan-Colucci, college photographer, Buffalo State Marketing and Communications.
Video by John Myers and Ken Giangreco, Creative Services, Buffalo State Marketing and Communications.