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Public colleges being schooled on state funding cutbacks

Buffalo State College

It is a problem across public higher education, traditionally financed by state governments to keep tuition and costs low. Across the country, states are cutting back on support, prompting schools to get seriously into fundraising to close the gap. Buffalo State College President Katherine Conway-Turner says her school is no exception.

This was Homecoming Weekend on Elmwood Avenue, with a pep rally, soccer games and a football game mauling of Hartwick. It also was the first to show off the college's new Jacqueline Vito LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center.

Vito LoRusso kicked in $1 million toward the overall project with many other contributions and some state money creating the new landmark at the school's Grant Street entrance. The President says this joint state-public financing is a sign of what is coming. Conway-Turner says alums have to be convinced to help in a way they never have before.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner and Jacqueline Vito LoRusso (center) cut the ribbon on the college's new visitor center.

"Public education has changed over the years. Sometimes, when people tell me about 50 years ago, it was just a small amount of money that it cost. It's still very affordable, but it's not like it was 50 years ago," she says. "So it is somewhat of a mind shift to understand that we contribute to our education on the public side now. It's not all just the state."

Conway-Turner says when people do ask about contributing, she stresses the need for scholarships to get kids into Buff State and keep them. As a first-generation college student, the college president says she understands the value of scholarships, like the aid she received to attend the University of Kansas.

"When I came to college, my family had no idea what I was doing and how to help," Conway-Turner says, "and so I also was recipient of a scholarship when I was a student. So I know personally what a difference it makes when you can have a scholarship. So very committed to having that experience for our students who really need it."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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