State Legislature poised to approve new WNY Regent

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A change is underway in who will represent Western New York on the state Board of Regents.

Catherine Collins, a former Buffalo School board member and associate professor at SUNY Empire State College, is expected to be approved tomorrow by the State Legislature to replace Robert M. Bennett who has served for two decades.

Collins was nominated by Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, (D-Buffalo) who told News. 4 that she has the support of Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and she expects that Collins will be approved. The vote is set for noon on Tuesday.

“I nominate her not because of her ethnicity or because of her gender. I nominate her for her education credentials,” said Peoples-Stokes.

DOCUMENT | You can see Catherine Collins’ resume here.

“I think it’s important for members of the Regent to have educational experience and not just in teaching but in knowledge base,” Peoples-Stokes added. “She has a doctorate in educational administration. She has a masters in curriculum development. She’s a nurse and obviously she has an undergraduate degree in education. In terms of educating herself to prepare to have a voice in educational policies I think Dr. Collins is more than qualified.”

Peoples-Stokes said she first nominated Collins five years ago to fill an at-large seat.

She lauded Bennett saying, “People have to give credit where credit is due” but she said it was time to move on.

“This is intended for there to be an opportunity to try a different method in a system that hasn’t worked well in the past.” she said.

Bennett announced Sunday that he was withdrawing his name from consideration.

Bennett said he was proud of his record of accomplishments during his two decades on the Board of Regents.

“When I was elected chancellor of course that was wonderful, my family was very proud and I spent seven years as chancellor, we really made a lot of changes. We had a big study done of the department. We started preparing for the new standards that went into effect in 2010.”

He said he hopes to stay involved in education after he steps down. His final meeting is this month.

The Board of Regents sets educational policy for all educational activities within New York State and presides over the state unversity system and the state Education Department.

If approved on Tuesday, Collins will be one of 17 members. The legislature is expected to vote on six appointments, all for five year terms. The chancellors represent each of the state’s 13 judicial districts. Four serve at large.  The positions are unsalaried. Chancellors are reimbursed for expenses.

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