Chance M. Glenn Sr., Ph.D., addressed the SUNY Board of Trustees shortly after the official announcement of his appointment as the 10th president of Buffalo State University on Tuesday, December 5.
Following is the full text of Glenn’s speech:
“I am completely honored for this opportunity. It is an opportunity. I want to make it clear that I view it as such, and those who are around me and close to me view it as such as well.
“It’s just not an opportunity for a position. It’s not just an opportunity for a new title. It’s an opportunity for something special that the whole community of Buffalo, the region, as well as the nation, perhaps, will come to know, and to appreciate and to enjoy.
“I want to start off thanking all of those who were part of this search—the Board of Trustees here, who I got to meet and know. I appreciate the work that you've put in. So much work. I know you delved deeply into my background and everything else about this whole role. It shows a commitment of how much you care about Buffalo State, as well as education here in the state of New York.
“That is something that I appreciate. It actually gives me a little bit to think about and to be daunted by, but I am also someone who is driven by challenges and opportunities. I will strive to make your faith in me worthy.
“Also, the Buffalo State University Council and the search committee there who also served to put the work in, spend the time, review everybody, and make sure that who you selected was the right person for the right moment. I want to thank them as well.
“Let me put a little bit of context to this from the standpoint of who I am. I was born in Newark, New Jersey, so I’m not far from this particular area. If you know anything about that time and place, which was the late ’60s, very tumultuous times. Riots, things of that nature. We moved from there. My father was a police officer who was in the thick of all of this. His relationship with my mother did not survive all of that.
“We moved down to Dothan, Alabama, which is in the southeastern corner of Alabama. You can imagine being a transplant from the North to the South during those times; it was very interesting. We lived in a house that was a cinder block house, probably half of the size of this room, eight siblings who grew up with my grandmother, who was also taking care of her aging father. That’s how we came up.
“The key part of all of it was that my grandmother emphasized education. It was very important. She made sure we all had our fill of it. I was the first in my family to graduate from college, although I am the youngest, and I was driven to continue to go on. The reason why this story to me is instructive is because there are a number of students in the Buffalo area for which a story like that is similar. They need to know that they can do it, that they can achieve, that they can be what they set in their hearts to be.
“I happened to look up and search for my sixth-grade teacher. I’m going to name her name, Jeannette Cartes. She was the first one who told me and called me in class, ‘Professor.’ It put in my head, this is a young Black child in South Alabama, this was a White teacher who saw something in me and put that seed there, and now all these years later not only become a professor, but achieve this great moment in time.
“I just looked her up and found out that she just recently passed away at age 85. I wish I could tell her how much what she said to me at that moment meant to me and drove the direction of my life. This is the power that we all have as educators and those who support and are a part of education. This is the power that we have. We must wield it responsibly and understand what it means in the lives of others.
“Let me end by saying this: Every one of us, if you think back along your life, you can think of people that were there for you. I just mentioned one; I have others along the way. I also need to mention my wife, Marsha, who has been a part of my life for 33 years. We have four children. The greatest accomplishment I think I can say that we’ve made is that if you ask every one of our children, ‘Who do you think is your parents’ favorite child?’ they will all say that they are. That to us is a great accomplishment.
“We have a responsibility to the generation that is coming up, to prepare them to be what is needed to move our society forward in a great place. I am looking forward to the potential and the opportunity in Buffalo. I look forward to celebrating, in a few years with all of you, the great accomplishments that we have made. With that, I want to say thank you for the opportunity.”