In August, Katherine S. Conway-Turner will take charge of SUNY Buffalo State, a campus that lost more enrollment last year than any other State University of New York university or college.
Buffalo State was one of just five campuses in SUNY’s 64-campus system to enroll fewer students in 2013-14 than in 2004-05.
Appointed Tuesday as the college’s ninth president, Conway-Turner will be called upon to turn around the slippage in student numbers.
In an interview following her appointment, Conway-Turner described Buffalo State as having a “very strong” foundation of students.
“The decline has not been a huge decline,” she said.
She said she would carefully examine programs to see if some need to be tweaked or if others need to be added.
The SUNY board of trustees capped two days of meetings at the University at Buffalo with the hiring of Conway-Turner, 61, away from Hood College in Frederick, Md., where she currently serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Conway-Turner, who will start Aug. 4, will earn an annual salary of $240,000, while also residing in a college-owned home and receiving a car allowance.
The trustees made the appointment at the recommendation of SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher and after interviewing Conway-Turner in executive session Monday.
The trustees also spent part of Monday talking about finances and enrollment in the SUNY system, including at Buffalo State, which recorded a drop of 406 full-time equivalent students between 2012-13 and 2013-14. About half of SUNY’s four-year colleges and universities reported smaller enrollments. UB was among the other half registering increases.
Conway-Turner previously served as provost at Geneseo State College and also served in administrative roles at the University of Delaware and Georgia Southern University.
She told the SUNY trustees she was drawn to Buffalo State because of the college’s strong track record in pushing students – including many who are the first generation in their families to pursue higher education – to new heights.
“I know how at Buffalo State lives are transformed,” said Conway-Turner. “Students sometimes come to Buffalo State, and they don’t know where the journey will lead them – and it leads them to a wonderful next step and really transforms their lives. I was so attracted to Buffalo State because of that.”
Howard Cohen has led the college as interim president since August 2013.