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Why Isn't Our Campus Downtown?

<p>Bruce Fisher laments Buffalo's decades-old decision to put their university campus outside of town, missing the lesson that "eds and meds" are central to the prosperity of a city.</p>
June 23, 2008, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"A generation ago, Buffalo and state politicians ignored the experience of New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and other American cities that have downtown college and university campuses. Instead, they built the State University of New York's biggest upstate university center far from the historic downtown transportation crossroads of the Western New York region.

In so doing, they marooned tens of thousands of students far from the places where education connects with the rest of life. The medical school is isolated from the teaching hospitals, the law school from the courts, the school of social work from the social-service agencies. Locally owned retail businesses, which in other cities are organized in commercial zones that serve whole communities of students, faculty and staff, must make do without them.

New York's leaders also forced the 25,000 students and 10,000 staff to rely on cars, because there is no effective regional transportation network-because there is no hub large enough to merit one. The regional crossroads is where it has always been: in downtown Buffalo. The university in isolation is not a city or even an "edge city." It's just a big node or activity center, off by itself, tangentially connected to the regional economy, much like the large state prison complex near Gowanda."

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Published on Thursday, June 19, 2008 in ArtVoice
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