Published June 14, 2013
UB’s Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) has opened its new home, a move that allows the center to take a greater role in serving Buffalo’s downtown community and expand programming for students who may not have access to traditional educational resources.
The new 68,000-square-foot, $26-million structure at 555 Ellicott St. offers students state-of-the-art facilities in which to pursue their educational and career goals. Strategically located near the rapidly expanding medical campus downtown, the new facility will allow the EOC to emphasize academic and vocational programming for the various allied health fields that are expected to be in continuing demand in Western New York.
The first classes within the new EOC building will begin in September. Funding for the facility was provided by New York State. Assembly member Crystal Peoples-Stokes provided instrumental leadership in securing this funding.
The opening of EOC is another milestone in UB’s expansion in downtown Buffalo. In September, UB opened its Clinical and Translational Research Center in the joint UB-Kaleida Health building at Goodrich and Ellicott streets, and in 2016 the university plans to open a new medical school on Main Street.
The building projects, as well as UB’s plan to hire an additional 250 faculty members, are part of the UB 20202 strategic plan, which is funded in part by the NYSUNY 2020 legislation and $35 million challenge grant signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
In addition, the governor has pledged $1 billion to Buffalo to attract new industry, and the state has identified $100 million in economic-development projects in Buffalo through the work of the Regional Economic Development Council, co-chaired by UB President Satish K. Tripathi. Some of the vocational training for the new industries emerging through these strategic state investments will be offered by the EOC.
Tripathi said the EOC has had “a profound impact, regionally and statewide, in enhancing educational opportunity, creating a rich environment for lifelong learning and providing academic and career training that prepares graduates who contribute in substantial ways to a vibrant, thriving Western New York community.
“This beautiful new facility in the heart of our growing UB campus downtown ensures the EOC will continue to help generate progress and vitality in our community for generations to come. As we move forward in building a strong knowledge-based economy in our region, this state-of-the-art collaborative learning environment will play a key role in expanding the educational and vocational opportunities that will come with this innovation economy.”
Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy said that the new EOC “is showing once again that New York provides a world-class education for all students. I commend all involved for their hard work, commitment and dedication to serving the needs of New York students across the state.”
Serving more than 1,900 students each year—the majority of whom are 25 or older—the UB EOC is one of four Urban Centers created in 1966 under SUNY supervision and funded by the governor and state Legislature, under the leadership of former Assembly Member Arthur O. Eve, to provide occupational training and college preparatory programs to underserved populations. As a longtime member of the state Legislature, Arthur Eve was a champion for greater opportunity—especially in the area of education.
In 1973, the Urban Centers evolved into the more comprehensive Educational Opportunity Centers. SUNY’s University Center for Academic and Workforce Development (UCAWD) currently manages the statewide network of 10 EOCs and two Counseling and Outreach Centers.
Peoples-Stokes called the opening of the new EOC building downtown “the beginning of an age of inclusion, where the learning community is right in the heart of the growing sector.”
“Students can see a bright future ahead, from education, to graduation, to compensation,” she said. “EOC fits right in this seven-block radius, including the biomedical campus, that contributes to growth, jobs and a surge in research. I am excited about this move and what it means for the students, the district and the entire Western New York community.”
Noted state Sen. Tim Kennedy: “As a community, state and nation, we believe in hard work, we believe in second chances, and we believe in equal access to educational opportunities. Those beliefs are at the core of our commitment to the UB Educational Opportunity Center and at the heart of our collective work to ensure all Western New Yorkers get a fair shot at academic and employment opportunities. The students, faculty and staff here accomplish so many great things on a daily basis, and I’m thrilled local students and our community will now have this new, state-of-the-art facility to pursue their career aspirations.”
Designed by Holt Architects P.C., the interior of the LEED Gold-designed facility focuses on transparency and flexible technology in all classrooms, computer labs and student spaces. The new EOC is linked to the UB Downtown Gateway building at 77 Goodell St. (the former M. Wile building) via a 5,000-square-foot connector with an adjacent conference center. UB’s Downtown Gateway building, which opened in 2009, houses UB’s Office of Government and Community Relations, as well as other offices and programs geared to the community.
The new EOC is another example of how UB is increasing its presence in downtown Buffalo, particularly on and near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), and is creating new opportunities for the community. “Our center is committed to providing educational and growth experiences that empower students to realize their dreams and turn efforts into achievements,” said Julius Gregg Adams, EOC executive director.
“The mission of the UB Educational Opportunity Center is to produce lifelong learners who are self-directed, empowered and committed to excellence. We have an incredible range of students who attend the UB EOC,” Adams said.
“By moving to the new facility, we will be able to provide our students with progressive education and training, and engage our faculty in new teaching pedagogy and paradigms that will benefit our students entering workforce development and college preparation.”
EOC attendees have included those seeking their GED or specific vocational training, as well as those pursuing postsecondary educational experiences. The UB EOC has seen an increase in the number of English as a Second Language (ESL) students who seek out its services due to the increase in the number of refugees that have chosen the Western New York region to call their new home, Adams noted.
The EOC’s proximity to Roswell Park Cancer Institute; Kaleida Health; and UB’s new medical school, Clinical and Translational Research Center, and New York State Center for Bioinformatics and Life Sciences will lead to “new partnerships” with these BNMC institutions, Adams said.
For example, the EOC currently is collaborating with Roswell Park to offer a course titled “Basic Spanish for Health Care Workers.” EOC students and Roswell employees take the course together, providing a unique, mutually beneficial learning experience for both. Adams said the EOC hopes to offer additional joint training programs at Roswell for EOC students and Roswell employees.
Now in its 40th year, Adams said the UB EOC has evolved into a vibrant, dynamic learning community that delivers comprehensive community-based academic and workforce development programs, wrap-around supportive services and access to further education and employment. “Our center is committed to providing educational and growth experiences that empower students to realize their dreams and turn efforts into achievements.”
To acknowledge and honor its program completers, the UB EOC hosted its 40th commencement exercises last month. “Our graduation ceremonies have celebrated the achievements of students who are dedicated to self-improvement and want to increase their skill level so that they can succeed in the workforce and or postsecondary education,” Adams said.
The training and support services offered by the UB EOC are free to all students who meet eligibility requirements. Those interested in applying or learning more about EOC programs can call 716-849-6727 or visit the EOC’s website.