Buffalo State College will host an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, October 1, to celebrate the completion of renovations to two key academic spaces: the Academic Commons within E. H. Butler Library and the Science and Mathematics Complex (SAMC). The campus community and distinguished guests are invited to attend.
The open house runs from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on the first floor of the library, where the Academic Commons is located, and throughout the SAMC. The joint ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 2:15 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Plaza, followed by tours of the new facilities.
“The completion of these projects is worthy of a campuswide celebration, especially at a time when we’re reflecting on the college’s rich history and looking to its promising future,” said Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner. “Both the Science and Math Complex and the Academic Commons showcase creative design and expert craftsmanship. The end result is two facilities that support all facets of student learning.”
The SAMC, which began as an ambitious $100 million renovation project 10 years ago, houses the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences and Science Education, Mathematics, and Physics. The fourth and final phase of construction was completed in January 2021. SAMC boasts a multi-story glass atrium, upgraded research and teaching facilities, an advanced imaging suite, greenhouses, and the newly imagined Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium.
“The renovated SAMC has a thoroughly modern feel and is unlike any other building on campus,” said M. Scott Goodman, professor of chemistry and director of the Undergraduate Research Office. He previously served as interim dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences.
“It makes me proud to think that our undergraduate students and researchers at Buffalo State have access to such an amazing array of facilities and equipment,” Goodman said. “Students at much larger research universities do not have the hands-on access to much of the equipment that our students use routinely.”
The planetarium includes several new state-of-the-art software and projection systems that create a 360-degree visually captivating experience for students and provide a number of teaching opportunities for disciplines across campus.
“I’m so excited the planetarium is opening,” said Kevin Williams, associate professor of earth sciences and planetarium director. “Classes and other groups on campus that have visited recently have been blown away by the visualizations and unique way of viewing the night sky and beyond in the immersive environment of the planetarium.”
He added that the college will begin offering public programming on Friday, October 8, and continue almost every weekend throughout the semester. The planetarium is also available for birthday parties and other private events.
Meanwhile, the reconfigured Academic Commons—a $16 million reconstruction project begun in 2018—serves as a one-stop resource for students to achieve academic success. It houses the Writing Center, the Math Center, Tutoring Services, the Educational Opportunity Program’s Academic Center for Excellence (EOP-ACE), the Academic Advising Center, and Student Accessibility Services. Falling under the umbrella of Academic Success, the Academic Commons supports Buffalo State’s commitment to the persistence, retention, and completion of its students. Many of the entities within the Academic Commons were previously scattered throughout campus.
Buffalo State Provost James Mayrose noted that the Academic Commons brings together offices with a diverse but united set of missions, each providing assistance to students as they seek to fulfill their academic potential and graduate in the timeliest manner.
“The Academic Commons enhances each office’s capacity to serve students while adding many new features that improve reception, triage, scheduling, program visibility, collaborative learning, and student convenience,” Mayrose said. “This vision for the Academic Commons should increase student use of these campus services significantly and transform the culture of learning at Buffalo State.”
The unification of resources as well as the location within the library have already yielded good results.
“I’ve heard from my staff members who are forming fantastic collaborations with library staff,” said Agnieszka Zak-Moskal, interim assistant provost for academic success. “It’s bringing people out of their silos to work together.”
Because first-year students now come to the Academic Commons to meet with their advisers, Zak-Moskal said, she hopes it will encourage more students to use the many resources the library offers.
“We’ve already noticed students who have visited the Academic Commons finding unique study spots in the library and coming back every day,” she said. “The study rooms are also getting a lot of use.”
The open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony are part of the yearlong celebration of Buffalo State’s 150th anniversary.
“It was a long journey to bring to completion these extraordinary facilities that serve our students and the community,” Conway-Turner said. “I am thrilled to be able to share them with our community and our many supporters.”
Please register online or call (866) 427-2150 to attend.
Photos by Bruce Fox, campus photographer.