Published July 3, 2014
UB dedicated its new Educational Opportunity Center facility in the name of former New York State Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve on June 30 at the center in downtown Buffalo.
The ceremony was held at EOC’s new home at 555 Ellicott St., located in the district Eve represented during his distinguished career in the state Legislature.
“I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to Arthur Eve’s vital leadership as a great champion of educational opportunity in our region and state than this,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.
“Throughout his distinguished career in public service as a New York State Assembly member and later as deputy speaker, his vision and leadership in the areas of education, economic development and social opportunity have been invaluable to communities across our state.”
Eve, who served in the Assembly for 36 years and was a key player in establishing the statewide Educational Opportunity Program, attended the ceremony with several of his family members.
Throughout his career, Eve championed access to higher education opportunities for all students. In 1967, at the beginning of his career in the Assembly, he developed an appropriations bill that gave birth to the SEEK/Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). The EOP provides ambitious students unable to reach their academic goals because of educational, economic or personal challenges an opportunity to gain admission to New York colleges and universities.
Eve also played a vital role in spearheading many other legislative efforts to enhance educational access, including legislation that helped launch the statewide network of Educational Opportunity Centers.
UB’s EOC was one of four Urban Centers created in 1966 under SUNY supervision and funded by the governor and state Legislature to provide occupational training and college preparatory programs to underserved populations. In 1973, the Urban Centers evolved into the more comprehensive Educational Opportunity Centers. The current statewide network of 10 EOCs and two Counseling and Outreach Centers is managed by SUNY’s University Center for Academic and Workforce Development.
“Our entire SUNY community has benefited profoundly from these contributions, from his establishment of the seminal Educational Opportunity Program to his sponsorship of numerous other educational programs across the state, including the Educational Opportunity Centers,” said Tripathi.
“His legacy and leadership have been a source of tremendous inspiration to Western New York and to the University at Buffalo as we continue to work toward expanding educational and economic opportunities in our region. We are honored to acknowledge his inspiring example as we dedicate this landmark new home for the UB Educational Opportunity Center in his name.”
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 downtown medical campus, 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.
Among the honored guests speaking at the ceremony was Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy. The recent opening of the new EOC building is a major milestone in UB’s expansion in downtown Buffalo as part of the UB 2020 strategic plan. The administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been a vital supporter of SUNY and its role in revitalizing communities across the state, as demonstrated through the NYSUNY 2020 legislation, which has played a key role in the growth and build-out of the university’s downtown campus.
“The University at Buffalo’s new Educational Opportunity Center, dedicated in honor of former New York State Assembly Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve, will continue in his legacy of public service and equal access to education,” said Duffy. “His work throughout our state in extending career and educational opportunities to underrepresented groups has been a source of inspiration, and this center would not have been a possibility had it not been for his constant commitment to Western New York and its citizens.”
The governor also 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 Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, co-chaired by Tripathi. Some of the vocational training for the new industries emerging through these strategic state investments will be offered by the EOC.
“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, executive director of the EOC. “The entire EOC program, not to mention our new center, would never have happened without the steady and passionate support from Mr. Eve. Everyone who walks in these halls is in debt to his dedication and commitment to the ideals of this center.”
UB’s new EOC facility opened in June 2013. Classes began there in September. It is linked to the UB Downtown Gateway building at 77 Goodell St. via a 5,000-square-foot connector with an adjacent conference center.
UB’s EOC serves more than 1,900 students each year — the majority of whom are 25 or older. The center provides a broad range of services, including academic enrichment; English as a second language; high school equivalency/GED preparation; life skills; dental, medical and nursing assistant programs; and computer readiness and Microsoft certifications.
In addition to Duffy, speakers included Rep. Brian Higgins, state Assembly member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, state Sen. Timothy Kennedy, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen, as well as Robert M. Bennett, chancellor emeritus of the New York State Board of Regents; H. Carl McCall, chair of the SUNY Board of Trustees; and SUNY Trustee Eunice Lewin.
I had the pleasure and the honor of working with Arthur Eve while serving as dean of the UB School of Social Work.
He was instrumental in our developing a center on the South Campus for Buffalo school district children suspended from school for violence, substance abuse and weapons possession. Over a three-year period, we served hundreds of children, with teachers, social workers and other support staff helping many of them to identify the family and community issues they faced in their lives that led to the negative behavior. A significant number were able to return to their schools and complete their education without further suspensions.
He deserves this unique honor for his dedication to the children of his community.