(Buffalo, N.Y.) — Last month, Buffalo State held their annual luncheon to recognize faculty and staff who have 25 or 50 years of service to SUNY.
Tom Koller, the senior associate athletics director at Buffalo State, was one of 21 employees honored for 25 years of service April 12.
James Shea, an associate professor of engineering technology, was the lone employee recognized for 50 years of service.
Koller appeared on the Buffalo Review TV May 3 to speak about his experiences serving SUNY and some of the changes on campus, over the past quarter-century.
Koller started his SUNY career at the University at Buffalo in 1993 and transferred to Buffalo State in 2001.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic and I’m a big believer in SUNY and I’m a big believer in Buff State,” he said.
Koller said the state treats employees well by offering mobility and opportunities to advance within the system. He believes this is why so many people stay with SUNY for 25 or more years.
The biggest changes on the campus since the late 1970s, he said, include the advancement in technology and infrastructure. Not only have the building’s seen numerous renovations, but the campus itself has expanded enormously since Koller’s time as a student.
However, he said the college culture remains the same. “You have youth who have energy and exuberance and passion and they want to change the world, which is great. I don’t think that ever changes,” Koller said.
He said he never imagined such a lengthy career with SUNY after graduating from Buffalo State in 1980 with a degree in journalism.
His original plan was to be a lifelong newspaper reporter. However, Koller said a journalist’s salary was not substantial enough to raise a family, which eventually led him to a position with SUNY.
One of the most rewarding parts of working in higher education, Koller said, is the ability to impact students daily.
“I’m able to at least talk to them and impart some of the wisdom I have after 60 years of being on this Earth,” he said.
The achievement Koller is most proud of in the past 25 years is receiving the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service. The award is given to employees who provide superior service to students and the community, who participate in activities outside of their job description.