October 15, 2012

More than 200 Attend Eighth Annual Student Academic Conference

Althea Luehrsen ’02, ’11, Executive Director of Leadership Buffalo, Keynotes

Wide shot of the fountains in front of the Adam's Mark Hotel on a sunny day.

The Adam's Mark Hotel, Buffalo

(BUFFALO, N.Y. – Oct. 13, 2012) – More than 200 students, alumni, faculty, staff, friends and special guests attended the 2012  SUNY Empire State College Student Academic Conference held this past weekend in Buffalo. This was the eighth annual conference.

All of the college’s learning centers across the state were well represented.

The conference featured sessions for participants on topics such as evaluating public history exhibits, digital and multimedia technology and their impact on audiences, community-based theater for social change, students and credit card debt, conflict and provocation in mediated disputes, animal hoarding, and the fabric of self-leadership and success, among others. Most were presented by students.

Audience for "The American Dream: Was it Ever a Reality?" a 2012 StAC presentation by students from the college's Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies

Audience for a Student Presentation at the Conference

“We consider you student leaders not only because of your academic excellence, but also as exemplary models of involved and engaged students,” Acting President Meg Benke told students.  “I encourage you to do the same when you become alumni – just like you see the many outstanding graduates here in this room – and whom you will meet throughout the conference.  The college, the faculty, staff and the alumni are all most proud of you.”

Acting President Meg Benke moderates a student panel titled, "Mixing it Up: A discussion with the Acting President and Empire State College Students.

Acting President Benke Moderates a Student Panel

The conference also featured the presentation of the annual winners of the student art competition;  this year’s winner was Jenn Crissey a current student at the college's School for Graduate Studies.

‌Althea Luehrsen ’02, ’11, a distinguished alumna of the college and the executive director of Leadership Buffalo, keynoted the conference.

“I always wanted to go (for my bachelor’s) after high school but I got sidetracked,” said Luehrsen. “I was 32 when I went back to school, so it was a little intimidating to look at four-year schools. So I went to ECC (Erie Community College) and then I found Empire State College. Ironically, when I went for my master’s I was working at UB.”

A single working mother of two children, Luehrsen had experience in the private sector, but needed skills and credentials to provide for her family and to achieve her personal goals.

“ESC students don’t follow a traditional path, but because of the flexibility of the college we can achieve everything we need to achieve,” said Luehrsen. “Without the flexibility and structure Empire State College provides, I could not have achieved everything that I have achieved.”

About Althea Luehrsen ’02, ‘11

College alumna Althea Luehrsen, '02, '11 and Leadership Buffalo executive director, keynote speaker for the 2012 StAC conference addresses audience from the podium.

Alumna Althea Luehrsen, '02, '11 Keyntoes the Conference

Luehrsen, who received her B.A. from the college in 2002 and her M.A. in 2011, is executive director of Leadership Buffalo. Formerly, she was executive director of the University at Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and assistant vice president for corporate and foundation relations.

She has an extensive background in business and leadership that includes management positions with UB, Abbott Laboratories and Marriott Corporation.  She also is president and owner of the Strategic Solutions Group specializing in strategic-plan facilitation and small-business consulting.

Her published work is titled, “A Historical View of the Development and Growth of Women-Owned Businesses in the United States and the Motivation Behind the Growth.”

Luehrsen currently holds several board and committee positions, including vice president of the Western New York affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Erie Community College Foundation Board, and serves as a member of the Empire State College Alumni Board. She has received numerous awards, including for Women in Leadership from the National Association of Women Business Owners this past June.

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Media Contact: David Henahan, director of communications

518-587-2100, ext. 2918

David.Henahan@esc.edu