Community Engagement at SUNY Buffalo State

Carnegie Elective Classification on Community Engagement Received


Buffalo State has received the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification.

Read the article on this prestigious designation. >> 

Below is the list of partnerships that were listed in the Carnegie application as we attempted to provide the reviewers with an understanding of the range and diversity of community engagement initiatives. We were forced to choose 15 partnerships, which was extremely challenging.

Anne Frank Project

Buffalo History Museum Collaboration

Burchfield Penny Art Center

Community Academic Center After-school and Summer Programming for West Side Youth

I am College Bound

Liberty Partnerships

New York State Child Welfare Training Institute

North Tonawanda School District/Buffalo State Social Work Department Field Education Program

Professional Development Schools

Small Business Development Center

Smart Grid

Volunteer and Service-Learning Center

West Side Promise Neighborhood

West Side Youth Development Coalition

Western New York Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) 


Carnegie Elective Classification on Community Engagement Application Submitted

From the Coordinator for Community Engagement

Preparing the application for the Carnegie Elective Classification on Community Engagement has been both exhilarating and challenging. The process provided an opportunity for members of the task force (Maureen McCarthy, Nancy Paschke, Kevin Railey, Laura Hill Rao, Debbie Renzi, John Siskar, and Gary Welborn) to talk with people from across campus about the work they do related to community engagement. It was rewarding to learn more about the engagement work being done on campus. We are proud to be members of this special community.

The organization of the application created challenging choices as we attempted to capture the diversity, richness, and depth of community engagement activities at Buffalo State. The application looks for both depth and breadth...all within little 500-word boxes. So we had a wonderful story to tell, but we faced uncomfortable constraints on how to tell that story. Nevertheless, the task force was committed to submitting a strong application and worked hard to get the language right

The final draft of the application and accompanying Partnership Grid are available for review. The campus will be notified in December 2014 of the award.

Gary Welborn, Ph.D.
Coordinator for Community Engagement and Service-Learning Faculty Coordinator


Spotlight on Community Engagement: Where We Stand- July 2013

In the SUNY Strategic Plan community engagement is identified as one of five Core Values.  “SUNY and the Vibrant Community” is one of Chancellor Zimpher’s Six Big Ideas, where the “Citizen SUNY” section talks about positioning SUNY as “a national model for higher education citizenship.”  Much of what Chancellor Zimpher is proposing, we are already doing at Buffalo State - taking service learning and volunteerism to scale; collaborating with community representatives to identify pressing problems and create solutions; and ensuring long-term commitment by building our involvement into courses and degree programs.  Buffalo State is ahead of the game and has the potential, I believe, to be a system-wide model. 

From the beginning of his tenure, President Podolefsky has made clear his support for a more fully engaged campus. The Deans Council and Provost Ponton have established the position of Coordinator of Community Engagement, making a very important statement of the administrative commitment to community engagement.  They offered the title to me, which I have accepted with humility, pride, and enthusiasm.  I hope to be able to contribute to Buffalo State maturing as an engaged campus.  We have a very firm foundation on which to build.

Buffalo State has a rich history and culture of engagement that dates back to its early days as a normal school. Our urban location has contributed to a growing commitment to applied scholarship and active, experiential pedagogies. While many area colleges and universities pride themselves as “think tanks,” places where knowledge is generated, Buffalo State has a reputation for taking the additional step of transforming that knowledge into practice. Many in the surrounding community have come to think of Buffalo State as an “action tank” for the city and region.

The foundation of community engagement at Buffalo State is anchored in the extremely varied and extensive work that faculty, staff, and students carry out in cooperation with community partners—from the Great Lakes Center to the Professional Development Schools Consortium, from service-learning courses across campus to the Art Conservation program, from the Center for Health and Social Research to the Small Business Development Center, to mention just a few; my apologies to the many, many others not listed here. Our ties to the community are robust and complex; they represent a key component of what is distinctive about Buffalo State.

The Volunteer and Service-Learning Center has developed a high-quality service-learning program that involves many courses and hundreds of students each semester in the life of the community. Service-learning is woven into the pedagogical fabric of the college as core component of active learning. It complements the many vibrant internship programs across campus. A strong core of faculty and staff, dedicated to working closely with Buffalo State’s many community partners, has developed around these programs.

In my estimation, these factors, when taken together, constitute a “perfect storm” in terms of Buffalo State’s taking a critical step forward in institutionalizing community engagement. A large and growing group of faculty and staff have stepped up to contribute their time and energy to this project.

I hope to use this space in the VSLC Exchange to communicate to the campus community about our progress. If you would like to become involved in Buffalo State’s community engagement initiatives or simply want to learn more, please contact me. Together we can make a vibrant community for all.

Gary Welborn, Ph.D.

Coordinator for Community Engagement and Service-Learning Faculty Coordinator


Volunteer and Service-Learning Center

Buffalo State •  1300 Elmwood Avenue  •  Cleveland Hall 306
Buffalo, NY 14222  •  Phone: (716) 878-5811
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