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Buffalo State College is creating a regional history center in honor of Monroe Fordham, professor emeritus of history and social studies education.

The center, to promote the study of regional history, was to be announced at a private luncheon on the Elmwood Avenue campus today. It will be formally dedicated in the spring.

Located in the college's Classroom Building, the Monroe Fordham Regional History Center will foster the inclusion of regional history in the curriculums of local school systems and will serve as a vehicle for scholarly publications and research. Its creation comes as the college establishes a new concentration in museum studies.

"We see the Monroe Fordham Regional History Center as a way of training students who may want to consider public history or museum studies to learn the skills that will make them useful to their community," said E.O. Smith Jr., State University of New York distinguished service professor of history and social studies education.

Fordham -- a historian, archivist, editor and community activist, as well as an educator -- taught in the college's history and social studies education department for 28 years, retiring in 1998.

The new history center that bears his name is based on his local African-American and regional history collections and features historically significant materials from local communities.

It has a civic advisory board comprising 10 cultural leaders in the community and 12 faculty associates, including Fordham.

Fordham, 62, is co-founder of the Afro-American Historical Association of the Niagara Frontier and founder of the journal Afro-Americans in New York Life and History.

The association's extensive microfilm collection includes papers of the Buffalo Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, BUILD and Housing Opportunities Made Equal, as well as minutes of meetings of local churches and such groups as the Buffalo Colored Musicians Union.

Fordham, who wrote the history of Bethel Church here, was awarded a SUNY honorary doctorate of humane letters during Buffalo State's commencement in May. He holds the Augspurger Award of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, which recognizes outstanding contributions to Erie County history.

He was one of 50 educators nationwide chosen in 1986 by the American Association for Higher Education, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Change magazine as a professor who has made a significant difference in higher education.

A major conference in his honor two years ago brought local, national and Canadian scholars to Western New York.


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