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Buffalo State College president urges campus to 'ingite innovation' through COVID, budget deficit

WBFO file photo

Buffalo State College's president says faculty and staff remain committed to its missions, despite the COVID pandemic and fiscal challenges straining the entire SUNY system.

Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner delivered her annual State of the College address Tuesday through a video message. She says Buffalo State faces a $14.8 million deficit this academic year, and some tough decisions will need to be made.

Conway-Turner tells the Buffalo State community "this is not the time to be divisive."

"We have tough decisions ahead of us, in the next few months," she said. "We will need to strategically address closing our deficit. And it will not be easy. Our expenses are principally in salary, and significant changes will need to be made. We must do this work collaboratively and as humanely as possible. As I asked you to innovate last year, it is now absolutely essential to ignite your innovation."

Addressing the college's strategy for operating through the pandemic, Conway-Turner noted that 75% of instruction is being conducted remotely, while adjustments on campus include reworking of space and enhancement of ventilation systems.

She also discussed social justice, calling the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis a "tipping point for many." She also said the unrest is nothing new, referring to civil rights leader Ella Baker who, in 1963, said those who work for freedom cannot rest "until the killings of Black mother's sons become as important as the killings of White mother's sons."

"This year, we will deepen our work in social justice," Conway-Turner said. "We have already constituted a social justice website, where we will aggregate our committed work in this area. But this is only the beginning. Our Campus Senate will review our curriculum to assess how we can deepen our students' exposure to an understanding of social justice, both historically and in its present manifestation. As a campus, we will investigate and challenge our community to define how we can create a permanent representation of our commitment to social justice. And we will elevate our programming to allow our members of our community to have a forum to discuss, debate, explore and define appropriate actions that allow us to continue to be leaders and champions for social justice."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.