Buffalo State College, a member of the 64-campus State University of New York (SUNY) system, was founded in 1871. It is the largest comprehensive college in SUNY and the only one located in a metropolitan area. Buffalo State primarily enrolls students from the surrounding region. The college has recently seen an increase in enrollment from other parts of New York State, across the nation, and abroad. The current enrollment of almost 12,000 students includes a diverse mix of traditional, underrepresented, and adult students.

Characterized as a comprehensive regional institution, Buffalo State seeks to combine quality education, access, diversity, and service to create an environment that promotes intellectual, personal, and professional growth for students, faculty, and staff. The college offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors and minors in liberal arts and applied programs.

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education classifies institutions based on their degree-granting activities. Buffalo State is classified in the Master's Colleges and Universities I category. These institutions typically offer a wide range of baccalaureate programs, and they are committed to graduate education through the master's degree. They typically award 40 or more master's degrees per year across three or more disciplines.

Institutional aspirations for Buffalo State were identified in a recent SUNY mission review process and included statewide leadership in the design and delivery of teacher education programs, in urban education initiatives, and in applied research. The mission review project resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between SUNY and Buffalo State addressing areas of enrollment/admissions selectivity, student outcomes, faculty development and scholarship, intercampus collaboration, academic program direction, and infrastructure and technology. This agreement provides context for strategic planning and the relationship between the college and the SUNY system.

The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools is the regional accreditation organization for the college. Buffalo State was first accredited in 1948 and has since been reaccredited without interruption. An institutional self-study for a fall 2002 Middle States peer review visit was coordinated with preparation of the strategic plan. Topics for Middle States reaccreditation focus on programs and services for first-year students, programs and services for commuter students, distinctive and pivotal undergraduate educational experiences, creating an intellectually vital environment for graduate students, course scheduling and availability, and recognizing student and faculty success in the teaching and learning process.

The strategic planning process at Buffalo State was overseen by the College Planning Council. The council collected and analyzed data, appointed ad hoc tasks forces, conducted focus groups, shared results with constituents, invited feedback throughout the process, and prepared drafts and final reports.

Activities to Inform the Strategic Planning Process

In addition to the mission review process and preparation for Middle States reaccreditation, activities were instituted to inform the strategic planning process. These included a survey of all college employees' perceptions of the existing and proposed core values and of the driving forces that have the greatest impact on the college. The survey also invited responses to the following questions:

  • What is the single most important thing that needs to be done to take Buffalo State to the next level in terms of reputation and stature?
  • What is Buffalo State's most distinctive attribute for which it is known and respected (e.g., program, service, or institutional characteristic)?
  • What should be the unique or distinctive educational experience common to all Buffalo State students?
  • As you envision Buffalo State in the future, for what would you like it to be widely known and respected?

These four questions also were used at a stakeholders conference of almost 180 participants. More than 20 percent of the participants represented external constituencies, while college participants included faculty, staff, students, and administrators.

More than 100 undergraduate and graduate students contributed to the strategic planning process through two student stakeholder conferences. Questions asked of students were:

  • What is Buffalo State's most distinctive attribute for which it is known and respected?
  • What is the single most important thing that needs to be done at Buffalo State to enhance your educational experience?
  • What is the single most important thing that needs to be done at Buffalo State to enhance your student-life experience?
  • As you envision Buffalo State in the future, for what would you like it to be known and respected?

What’s the Big Idea?
Buffalo State Stakeholders Conference, October 28, 2003 (ppt 250kb)

Strategic Planning Conference: Institutional Distinctiveness Final Report (pdf 12kb)
- Appendix 1: List of Attendees (pdf 36kb)
- Appendix 2: Inquiry Action Statement (pdf 6kb)
- Appendix 3: Inquiry-based Learning Principles (pdf 6kb)
- Appendix 4: Revised Concept Statement (pdf 16kb)

Planning Assumptions

The College Planning Council adopted the following planning assumptions that influence the strategic plan:

Enrollment and Demographics

  • Enrollment will reach 13,000 by 2005-2006.
  • Demand for on-campus student housing options will increase.
  • Demand for asynchronous learning opportunities will increase.
  • Both Latino/Hispanic and Asian American student applicant pools will expand.
  • Competition for student recruitment will increase.
  • Greater national demand will increase competition for qualified faculty and staff.

Resources and Facilities

  • Research-grant and contract funding will increase.
  • State funding will continue to decrease.
  • Additional physical space will become available to the campus.
  • Increased resources will be required to maintain campus facilities.

Curriculum and Instruction

  • Increased demand for teachers will increase the demand for teacher education.
  • Demand for graduates of programs in health, human services, culture and tourism, and security and safety will increase.
  • The academic profile of students will be strengthened.
  • Reliance on adjunct (part-time) faculty will remain high, even as the complement of tenure-track (full-time) faculty grows.

Administration and Institution

  • Leadership of the college will remain stable and constant.
  • Demand for technology-related training and services will increase.
  • Expectations for institutional accountability (state, accreditation agencies) will rise.
  • Opportunities for college-community partnerships will expand.
  • Expectations that the college will provide a leadership role in regional economic issues will rise.