When the pope spent two days in Buffalo during his 14-city U.S.-Canadian visit in 1969, he was invited to Buffalo State by Professor Walter Drzewieniecki, who was chair of the Department of East European and Slavic Studies. Drzewieniecki served as president of the Polish Cultural Foundation at the time the plaque was dedicated on May 19, 2001, one day after the pope’s 81st birthday, and during Polish American Heritage Month.
Through the cooperation of Dr. Lucien Palmieri, then Director of E. H. Butler Library, Dr. Drzewieniecki established the Fronczak Room. It houses local Polish American history collections. The largest among them is the Dr. Francis E. Fronczak Collection, which contains manuscripts, personal papers and memorabilia of Dr. Fronczak, a physician, City of Buffalo Commissioner of Public Health, and an activist for Polish and Polish American issues.