1931 – 1988
Ken Downey's life was devoted to educating, school children in the fifties, undergraduate and graduate students in the sixties, undergraduates in the seventies, and faculty as well as undergraduates in the eighties. Special in his life of learning and teaching was Buffalo State.
Ken's first degree was in Elementary Education. He took his degree in 1954 from Buffalo State After teaching sixth grade first in Snyder, then in New Jersey, Ken moved to the Midwest to take a Masters (1959) and Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Illinois.
After teaching at several other institutions in, 1968 he rejoined his alma mater, Buffalo State as an Associate Professor of Sociology where he remained for the remainder of his career.
Though Ken published in the Sociology of Mental Health and the Sociology of Science, he is best known for a textbook, Elementary Social Statistics, published in 1975.
In the period before his death from an aneurysm in 1988, Ken’s greatest joys and accomplishments revolved around the microcomputer, which he imaginatively incorporated into a wide variety of teaching, research, and administrative applications. Particularly creative were the tutorials and examinations he developed for his classes. He was the person who introduced his colleagues in the department to the computer. He held classes for faculty members, gave exams and even a diploma. One can’t help but wonder what he would think of the advances since then.
When in 1982 Sociology emerged from its budget-imposed marriage with Geography, Ken became the first chair of the reconstituted department. He proved a strong leader. One of his greatest triumphs, reflecting his concern for the student who could not afford to go on to graduate school, was the creation of a new degree in Applied Sociology. He was also instrumental in establishing two minors in the department, one in sociology, one in deviance. He was proud of having been one of the many who used a Buffalo State education for social and economic advancement, an experience that gave him a. sense of identification with our students that none of his colleagues could match. Ken loved a good party and he always enjoyed bright students. Ken's always sought to give back to Buffalo State., and his contributions continue to this day.
Ken met Ruth, his wife, mother of his two wonderful sons and life-long partner when they were both undergraduates at Buffalo State. It was she who endowed this award in Ken’s memory.
Each year, the Kenneth Downey Award goes to the student who we believe best exemplifies his spirit and love of Sociology and appreciation of the possibilities of computers.
2018-2019: Anna Maria Mazzarisi-Soto
2017-2018: Mark Granto
2016-2017: Avery Edwards
2015-2016: John Figueroa
2014-2015: Steven Levine
2013-2014: Kimberly Grochowski
2012-2013: Gabriel S. Johnson
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