When Buffalo State University’s Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program celebrates its exemplary students during the 56th annual Honors Convocation on Thursday, May 11, it will also recognize one alumnus who has risen to incredible heights in his career.
Darren J. Brown-Hall, ’96, ’98, superintendent of the Williamsville Central School District, will be honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award and share his story during the ceremony that begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall. The campus community is invited to attend.
“We’ve been watching Dr. Brown-Hall since he started working with the Buffalo Public Schools,” said Yanick Jenkins, director of EOP at Buffalo State. “He has forged such an impressive career, now serving at the helm of the largest suburban school district in Western New York. We expect he will motivate and inspire our students with how much he has achieved and the obstacles he’s had to overcome.”
Brown-Hall, who has broken barriers as the first Black suburban school superintendent in Erie or Niagara County, as well as the first openly gay superintendent in either county, became the Williamsville superintendent in July 2021. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Christmann Family Educational Leadership Program at Buffalo State. He received both a bachelor of science and a master of science in mathematics education from Buffalo State, a master of business administration from Canisius College, and a doctor of education from the University at Buffalo.
He most recently served as chief of staff for the Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) and previously served as the associate superintendent for human resources and briefly as interim superintendent. He also served as principal of the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, principal of Community School 53, and assistant principal of South Park High School. He began his career as a mathematics teacher at Sweet Home High School.
“Dr. Brown-Hall is the epitome of what we hope an EOP student can achieve,” said Jude Jayatilleke, senior academic adviser for EOP.
The EOP Honors Convocation recognizes students who have obtained a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) for one or both semesters during the 2022 calendar year.
“Students who come into our program not only stay in school, they thrive,” Jenkins said. “When you consider that some of these students carried a 76 GPA in high school and grew up in families with very low incomes, earning a 3.0 in college is a big deal. And some earn much higher GPAs than that.”
This year, 265 students will be recognized. In addition, special awards will be given to staff and outstanding students who have provided valuable contributions to EOP.
This particular honors convocation is especially significant.
“It’s the first ceremony we’ve been able to hold in person after three years of virtual ceremonies,” Jenkins said. “We will also honor President Katherine Conway-Turner, who is retiring from Buffalo State University at the end of this month, and victims of last year’s Tops Market shooting.”
Zhanna Reed, ’21, an EOP alumna who works as an actor, dancer, and model and recently captured the Miss Niagara title, will perform two songs as part of the commemoration.
“We thought a musical tribute from Zhanna would be especially meaningful,” Jenkins said. “Zhanna told us she was always inspired and supported by Dr. Conway-Turner.”
Jenkins added that the tribute to the victims of the May 14 Tops shooting is timely and important to include in this year’s ceremony.
“So many of our students have a connection to that Tops event, whether they or their family members knew someone directly affected,” Jenkins said. “We wanted them to know that we support them, now and always.”