Buffalo State College History

Our BufWiki history page contains condensed synopses of material found on the Buffalo State College website's History Pages.


Buffalo State College opened its doors in 1871; it had 86 total students, 75 women and 11 men and was named the Buffalo Normal School 1. The schools main purpose was to train teachers to keep up with the fast-growing student community. In 1888 the school adopted the name, “State Normal and Training School”, and with a new name and expanding enrollment, began construction of a science building.2

Early 1900’s

Rockwell Hall ca. 1948, BuffaloState.edu

By 1901, student attendance had multiplied, bringing enrollment to nearly 1000 students. In 1928 the school took the name, “State Teachers College at Buffalo, and received accreditation by the American Association of Teachers Colleges. With enrollment perpetually rising and the current accommodations proving too small, the school broke new ground on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, and by 1931 the students and faculty move to what is presently the current site of Buffalo State College.3

In 1946, a $1 million state allotment allowed more renovations with funds allocated to construction for a library, science, and industrial arts building, expansion of the gym, converting the old industrial arts building into a Home Economics Department. At this time the school adopted yet another name change and became the “New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo.” In 1948 the school built the first dormitory, Pioneer Hall, on the site of the existing Moot Hall.4

Middle 1900’s

In 1951, full-time student enrollment was 2,033 making it the largest teachers college in NY state.5 In 1960 the school was known as the "State University College of Education at Buffalo". It was the first SUNY School to have a study-abroad program, “Semester in Siena” (Italy).6 See also The 1960's.

The 1970’s were turbulent times on campus; in May 1970 students took over Rockwell Hall to protest the US invasion of Cambodia and the deaths of students at Kent State. Due to the significant amount of damage to the college grounds, the college's president, then President Fretwell, closed the campus for the semester. On a lighter note for the 70’s era; in 1972, a record 2,792 students graduated from Buffalo State College, in commencement exercises held at Memorial Auditorium. See The 1970's.

Late 1900's

Buffalo State College completed and opened the $19 million Sports Arena in 1991. It contained a basketball arena, indoor track and a Collegiate Ice Arena. Commencement ceremonies could now be held on campus with the Sports Arena holding the year’s graduation ceremonies. The Frank C. Moore Student Apartment Complex opened in 1998. It was a former dormitory fully refurbished to include family units for students with children.

2000 and Beyond

See 2000 and Beyond for details.

In 2001 the school finished the $5.6 million expansion of Moot Hall which could then house the state of the art enrollment system consisting of student admissions, registration, financial aid and student account services. They also opened the new wing of the Campbell Student Union which houses the $3.7million, 16,000sq. ft., Barnes & Noble at Buffalo State Bookstore.

In 2007 the school had a 15 year high in freshmen applications. Buffalo State also enrolled in the emergency text messaging service, “NY-Alert, to inform students, faculty and staff quickly of a crisis.

In 2008 the new $33 million Burchfield Penney Art Center on campus opened to the public.

Discuss History Section


1. Buffalo Normal School on Buffalo As Architectural History
2. Buffalo State History
3. Buffalo State History 1901-1928
4. [http://www.buffalostate.edu/19301948.xml History - 1930-1948
5. 1950's
6. Current Siena Program