On August 16, 1979, Dr. D. Bruce Johnstone became the college's fifth president.
A high priority of the Johnstone administration was the completion of renovation to Rockwell Hall, the beginning of construction on the Sports Arena, and the beautification of the campus (including improvements to the college's Elmwood entrance, the planting of trees along Rockwell Road, and the installation of the Butler Ice Fountain).
During Johnstone's presidency, stress was placed on strengthening the academic programs at the college. President Johnstone campaigned to bring the Art Conservation program, one of only three in the nation, to the college.
One of Johnstone's first tasks as president was to invigorate the Buffalo State College Foundation. When he became president, assets were about $200,000. By the end of 1987, the Foundation assets were at $1,127,000.
On August 1, 1988, Dr. Johnstone assumed the office of Chancellor of the State University of New York System. He resigned as chancellor in 1994. He is Distinguished Service Professor of Higher and Comparative Education Emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo.