The Center for the Study of Art, Architecture, History & Nature
        Sponsored the following presentation:
Downtown Library 2009 - 2010 Noon Hour Lecture Series
"Imagining Buffalo Niagara in the 21st Century"

Presented by: John J. Hurley, President-elect
Canisius College
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Audio version

John Hurley will become the 24th, and first non-Jesuit, President of Canisius College this year.

He imagined Buffalo Niagara in the 21st century around five themes, with an emphasis on higher education, his primary theme.

He noted higher educations combined $3.2 billion economic impact on our region among many facts. However, concern was raised about our region's low number of students from out of state and shared his goal of focusing on excellence at Canisius College to attract students from here and beyond.

The other themes included the importance of fresh water and a vibrant arts community, as well as the challenges of housing, government and politics.

This 45 minute presentation (link above) is well worth listening to.   

- Dennis Galucki

Remarks by John J. Hurley, President-elect, Canisius College

Imagining the local higher education industry in the 21st century
1.     The local higher education community needs to collaborate in a new way; a way in which all partners in the collaboration derive true value from the relationship.  It needs to happen in a way that respects the individual autonomy of each member of the collaboration and also addresses some of the highest priorities of each member of the collaboration.
2.     We also need the business community to rethink their connection with the higher education community.  As the economic statistics demonstrate, higher education is a robust, significant and growing part of the economy, but there is a disconnect with the business community.              We need to be seen as one of the drivers in the economy
3.     We need to have institutions that are more externally focused, doing what they are capable of doing, but not more.  E.g. Can we rebuild neighborhoods?  Can we be a player in neighborhood redevelopment
4.     Our development of new cutting edge programs will serve as an accelerator for the new economy.  This is where a better collaboration with the business community would help.
5.     We need better linkages with elementary and secondary schools to take advantage of faculty and students in education programs, especially with the Buffalo School District.
6.     We need to recognize that some schools need to become regional, or national attractions to succeed.  We should be prepared to promote and invest in schools that are trying to be so good that they can — if necessary — transcend the limitations of our geography. This gets back to the goals of collaborations — some of us aspire to greatness, collaborations should not hold us back to a least common denominator kind of goal.
A Few Perspectives on Other Issues
1.     New York State.  There is a consensus that the decisions that have been made at the state level in New York have played a major part in making the region uncompetitive.  The dysfunction in state government is the widely-acknowledged elephant in the room.
2.     Fresh Water.  We stand on the shores of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem — 20% of the world’s freshwater is sitting on our doorstep.  Imagining Buffalo Niagara in the 21st century involves a strategic use of this critical natural resource.
3.     Housing.  Housing vacancies are a result of population decline and urban sprawl; there’s simply insufficient demand to make owning and rehabbing many of these places feasible.  We need a healthy dose of realism here.  Not every neighborhood will make it.  Our scarce resources need to be concentrated in places where there is a fighting chance.  This demands a coherent strategy
4.     Housing Discrimination  We are by most accounts the fourth most segregated area in the country.  Housing discrimination and segregation has serious implications for neighborhood vitality, quality of education, access to jobs, homelessness, poverty, crime.  My Buffalo of the 21st century would begin to look more like Atlanta in its ability to absorb different races into thriving neighborhoods.
5.     The Arts.  Like higher ed, the arts are a significant impact in the local economy.  They can be a catalyst for growth.  They create jobs and attract population. My Buffalo of the 21st century would embrace the arts even more enthusiastically and we would look at how we can invest in the arts to make them grow.
6.     Politics and Government.  We need to check our impulse to look to the government every time we want to do something.  We’d be better in many cases by looking for private sector solutions that can be strategic, targeted, cost-effective and successful.

Center for the Study of Art, Architecture, History and Nature