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SEM leader leaves school on ‘solid ground’

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The leader of Buffalo Seminary is preparing to retire at the end of the month.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley reports Head of School Jody Douglass is leaving the school on 'solid ground'.

"It's pretty amazing. I don't think when I arrived I had any idea just how challenging it would be,” Douglass explains.

As Douglass prepares to depart the school, she describes bittersweet feelings, a mixture of happiness and sadness. For the last nine years, Douglass has worked to improve SEM's enrollment and endowment and the school has reached success in both areas.

“The first was adding the boarding programs so that we would have residential students who could come and study here both from all over the world and really across the United States. We went from about 12 the first year to 20 the next year, to 30 and capacity at 40, but also I think stretching scholarship dollars and increasing the endowment so we have more money for financial aid,” Douglass said. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Buffalo Seminary student Lisa Xiao is from China, one of 45 international students at the school.

Douglass tells WBFO News enrollment and endowment remain key to the health of a private school. 

“In order to have a strong enrollment you have to have a great program and really do a good job with outreach so people know what you are doing, but the endowment is really the key to the foundation of a good school, because without it, you can’t go through tough economic times. You really don’t have much flexibility, but if you have it, you have the ability to move quickly when you need to,” replied Douglass.

SEM seniors will be graduating June 14th. 42-seniors applied to 198 unique institutions spanning from Hawaii to the UK.  Students presented Douglass with a great retirement gift. 

“Who gave me a wonderful bicycle, so I’m pretty excited I will have new wheels,” Douglass said.   

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Outside SEM on Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo.

Saturday evening a celebration will be held for Douglass's retirement and closing in on capital campaign goal of $8.5 million. he Assistant Head of School, Helen Marlette, has been named as the new leader of SEM.    

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