On the afternoon of October 27, approximately 150 guests reveled in the success of Buffalo State’s Transforming Lives campaign during a closing ceremony in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall. The celebration included a video montage capturing the spirit of the campaign, reflections from the campaign’s leaders, and performances by the college’s S.P.I.R.I.T. Gospel Choir and the Digital Music Ensemble.
There was much to celebrate. Transforming Lives: A Campaign for Buffalo State, which began in 2011 and culminated in June 2015, raised $27.3 million and exceeded the original goal by $7 million.
Campaign co-chair James Brandys, ’71, ’73, noted that 9,500 donors contributed to the campaign, which “just says so much about us here and what we do and the important role we play in Western New York.”
Transforming Lives was designed to support five campus priorities: student scholarship support; enhancing the student experience; enhancing campus facilities; excellence in faculty teaching, research, and service; and the Fund for Buffalo State (annual fund).
In her remarks, Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner reflected on the beginning of the campaign in which then President Aaron Podolefsky and Susanne Bair, vice president for institutional advancement, asked the campus community, its alumni, and friends to “dream about what a campaign can do for this campus.
“That was a $20 million dream,” Conway-Turner said, “and as you heard the goals set forth, some of you probably wondered if we’d be able to reach that goal. We not only the met that goal, we exceeded it.”
Campaign gifts included funding for 30 new endowed scholarships, eight non-endowed scholarships; an endowed faculty chair in Exceptional Education; two art conservation program fellowships, the creation of the Louis P. Ciminelli Recital Hall; the upcoming Jacqueline V. LoRusso Alumni House/Visitor’s Center; Statler study abroad scholarships; the new Ferguson Planetarium; the E.O. Smith Arts and Humanities Faculty Development Fund; and the Jim Grunebaum Speakers Series in Philosophy Fund.
Bair recognized the dedication of campaign co-chairs, Brandys and Linda Dobmeier, ’71, along with members of the president’s cabinet, members of the campaign steering committee, and the Institutional Advancement staff “who went above and beyond to ensure the campaign’s success.
“From beginning to end, the campaign has been about people. First and foremost, the campaign was designed to benefit our students,” said Bair. “(The campaign) has transformed lives and will continue to do so into perpetuity. It has helped shaped the culture of philanthropy on our campus.”
Matthew Dispenza, a first-year Spanish major from Wilson, New York, told the crowd how being a recipient of three scholarships made a tremendous difference in his life.
“Without the Messner scholarship, the (Muriel Howard) Honors Program scholarship and the Ross B. Kenzie scholarship, I would not be speaking before you tonight,” Dispenza said. “It lifts a huge weight off my shoulders. It also makes me a better student. I’m more appreciative as I know not everyone has the privilege to come to Buffalo and study what they love.”
Dobmeier noted what the success of Transforming Lives says about Buffalo State.
“We have always been the college community that cares about each other,” she said. “This campaign is the ultimate proof of our commitment to Buffalo State, our students, and each other.”
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