Daemen College’s inaugural Founders Celebration was a resounding success as the campus community joined together for several special events held on Sept. 7 and 8 to commemorate the college’s rich history of academic excellence and to honor its heritage.
The two-day celebration kicked off with a dedication and ringing ceremony of the college’s Founders Bell. Not even the rainy weather could dampen the spirits and enthusiasm of the more than 200 in attendance.
“Since our founding in 1947 as Rosary Hill College, Daemen has fostered a long and distinguished history of academic excellence, which over the decades our dedicated faculty and staff have carried on,” said Daemen President Gary A. Olson. “The ceremonial ringing of our new Founders Bell by seven distinguished members of our college community paid tribute to each decade of Daemen’s existence and celebrated our 70 years as a college of distinction.”
In honor of the college’s 70th anniversary being marked this year, the ceremony included one symbolic ring for each decade since the college was founded. Official ringers at the ceremony included Daemen President Gary A. Olson; Dr. Thomas Stewart, ’74, chair of the Daemen Board of Trustees; Edith Wyss O.S. F., ’66, of the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, the college’s founding congregation; Nancy Haberman Gacioch, ’62, alumna; Dr. Matthew Ward, president of the Faculty Senate; Dr. Ned Cuddy, faculty emeriti representative; and Hugo Juarez, president of the Student Association.
At the ringing ceremony, Dr. Michael Brogan , vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, said, “As a member of the Daemen community for the past 36 years as a student, proud alumnus, faculty member, and administrator, I could not be more proud of our great college than I am today. Together, we will carry on the tradition of excellence started by our founders, the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, seven decades ago.”
Founders Bell has been installed on campus adjacent to Founders Walkway outside Daemen’s historic Rosary Hall, site of the college’s earliest commencement ceremonies. The bell’s decorative stone base, which matches a recently completed stone wall that graces the front of campus grounds, is designed to represent the college’s strength and stability.
“The ringing ceremony placed a special focus on our long tradition of excellence in teaching and the scholarly achievements of our faculty since our college was founded, as well as the distinctive learning opportunities we offer our students,” said Olson.
Previously located at St. Margaret’s School in North Buffalo, the bell was first crafted in 1858 by the internationally acclaimed Meneely Bell Foundry, one of the greatest bell makers in American history. Meneely bells, known for their exceptional quality and rich tone, may be found at churches and other locales around the world.
A gift to Daemen from Iskalo Development Corp., the historic 159-year-old bell was refurbished thanks to support from the college’s Class of 1967. The first day of festivities also featured the grand opening of Daemen’s newly named Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement . The dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony included the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the naming in honor of an historic $1 million gift from the Paul A. Saffrin Foundation.
“Through a range of successful programs and partnerships, our center has fostered a highly engaged Daemen campus that has contributed to stronger communities locally and beyond,” said Dr. Maureen Millane, associate vice president for community engagement. “Mr. Saffrin’s immense generosity will enable our center to build on these initiatives and to further its vital role in promoting a lifelong commitment to civic responsibility and environmental sustainability.”
In addition, Daemen’s history was showcased in an exceptional memorabilia exhibit with photos, clothing, posters, and many other mementos to spotlight each of the past seven decades.
The day wrapped up with a lecture by guest speaker Scott Dikkers, founder and longest-serving editor-in-chief of The Onion, one of the most popular online humor publications in the world, who addressed a capacity crowd at the event.
The second day of Founders Celebration started with the third annual Daemen Day in Amherst, a special celebration to connect the college community with Main Street’s thriving business district. With free trolley rides available, the Daemen community had the opportunity to visit, shop, and dine at establishments in the Williamsville district. The day also included many other activities for the campus community.
Daemen’s first Founders Celebration concluded with a 70th Anniversary Gala, where the public launch of the college’s first-ever comprehensive campaign was announced. More on the campaign may be found on pages 4-7 in this issue of Daemen Today.