Buffalo State welcomes its ninth president to campus


Sarah Minkewicz/The Record

Katherine Conway-Turner began her term as the college’s ninth president in August.

Sarah Minkewicz, Associate News Editor

When Ketherine S. Conway-Turner was growing up in a small town in Missouri with a population of only 600, she never imagined that she’d one day be the president of SUNY Buffalo State. Today, she welcomes the challenge with high spirits and expectations as the new semester begins.

“I didn’t even know anything about college as a young person,” Conway-Turner said. “It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I began to read about colleges. I’m a first generation college student so I didn’t have people in my family that went to college.”

After graduating from the University of Kansas with three degrees, including a doctorate in psychology, she began her career in academia, which led her to places such as SUNY Geneseo. There, Conway-Turner served as provost and vice president of academic affairs from 2004 to 2009. She said  her past experience prepared her to become Buffalo State’s ninth president because she was able to learn the SUNY system and how it works.

“Being a provost gave me an absolute wonderful opportunity to know the largest piece of a college campus,” Conway-Turner said. “So of course being in SUNY Geneseo, which is also in the SUNY family, gave me great familiarity to the SUNY system, and to other colleges and universities.”

Conway-Turner also said that being at SUNY Geneseo allowed her to learn a great deal about Buffalo State and was the deciding factor in why she chose to take the position.

“I knew about all the comprehensive campuses, the programs, and what the student body was like and I was always attracted to Buffalo State,” she said. “I always thought that Buffalo State and SUNY Geneseo were the best.”

Conway-Turner also said that because she’s worked in the SUNY system before, she’s gained many friends, colleagues and contacts that are all a part of the SUNY family. Conway-Turner said collecting the necessary contacts and networking around campus and knowing all the stakeholders will be one of her initial challenges.

“Even though I’ve been in Western New York before, and I know a great number of people, I still have to get to know my campus,” she said. “I have to know all the various players and have a lot of one-on-one discussions.”

Conway-Turner’s long-term goals are maintaining the resources already established for Buffalo State in order to keep tuition affordable and accessible to all students.

“This has been the challenge for a number of years for public institutions, and this will continue to be the challenge as we move forward,” she said.

Another thing that Conway-Turner plans to do while in office is increase the visibility of SUNY Buffalo State.

“I want to get to that point that when people think about the best colleges of New York, the first in their mind comes Buffalo State,” Conway Turner said.

She plans on highlighting the success of students programs as well as scholarships offered at Buffalo State.

“Anything that makes the college stand out, I think, will draw more attention from across the state,” Conway-Turner said.

Along with these plans, Conway-Turner said that students could expect new programs and changes to current programs.

One new program students can see is a service-learning program in Haiti through the H.O.P.E, a Rochester-based nonprofit organization. Students can spend spring break there focusing on healthcare, education and sanitation within the community of Borgne.

Conway-Turner said that she’s most looking forward to working with a dynamic campus and knows that sometimes students and even faculty and staff can take it for granted.

“This is a very vibrant campus with so many things going on,” Conway-Turner said. “I want to help our whole community better understand how special we are at Buffalo State and not to forget it.”

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