Wick Center Renamed John R. Yurtchuk Student Center
Daemen University honored Board of Trustees Chairman John R. Yurtchuk at a special dedication ceremony in September, marking the official renaming of the Wick Campus Center to the John R. Yurtchuk Student Center.
President Gary A. Olson called the name change a passing of the baton to a new era at Daemen.
“John Yurtchuk is the most influential board chair of Daemen’s modern era,” said President Olson. “His impact helped lead us to university status, to Carnegie doctoral university status, and to our multi-campus designation.”
In July, Yurtchuk became the largest single donor in Daemen’s history, committing $2 million to the President’s Excellence Fund, which ensures the university’s continued vibrancy and long-term stability.
“I am delighted to play a role in Daemen’s continued forward momentum as a distinguished university,” said Chairman Yurtchuk. “The institution has shown great progress over the last decade, and I am sure that will continue for years to come.”
Yurtchuk was appointed to the Daemen Community Advisory Board in 2013, the college’s Board of Trustees a year later, and was elected board chair in 2019. He received an honorary doctorate from the university in 2016. Previously, Yurtchuk completed PhD coursework at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he also earned an M.A. and B.A.
Until earlier this year, Yurtchuk served as chairman and co-owner of Buffalo-headquartered Calspan Holdings, a science and technology company. He also founded Matrix Development Corporation and has developed commercial real estate across the United States.
PA Grads Receive 100% Pass Rate on National Certifying Exam
The 2023 graduates of the Physician Assistant Studies program achieved a 100% first-time pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), which is above the national average. The class of 57 graduates started the PA program in September 2020 during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Physician Assistants must pass the PANCE after graduating in order to practice clinically. The multiple-choice exam assesses basic medical and surgical knowledge.
“Despite the logistic challenges of the COVID pandemic, students and faculty understood that standards of care could not be compromised,” said Joel Patterson, the program chair and associate professor. “Through innovation, creativity, dedication, and extremely hard work, the PA graduates of 2023 were extremely successful in reaching their goals.”
The national first-time pass rate was 92% in 2022.
Paul Saffrin Honored with University’s Presidential Medal
Paul Saffrin, the vice chair of the Daemen University Board of Trustees, was awarded the Presidential Medal – the institution’s highest recognition reserved for individuals who serve as strong, positive role models for students and alums – during a special ceremony.
The award is presented to those who have also made contributions toward the growth and advancement of Daemen and have invested substantial time, effort, and resources to improve the world and humanity.
“Paul is a successful international businessman and philanthropist,” President Gary A. Olson told the room of distinguished guests as he introduced Saffrin. “We would like to honor you for your many achievements and contributions to society, as well as your dedication to Daemen University.”
Daemen Secures $2.2 Million Federal Grant
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Daemen University a five-year, $2.2 million grant through the Title III Strengthening Institutions Program in order to increase retention and graduation rates and eliminate equity gaps.
The program aims to help eligible institutions of higher education become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.
The grant will support three key strategies to advance educational equity by strengthening student support, systems, and instruction.
Johnston Honored by the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants
Danielle Johnston ’10, PA-C, MPAS, an assistant professor and clinical education specialist in the Physician Assistant Studies department, has been named the 2023 Preceptor/ Educator of the Year by the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants.
The award recognizes excellence in the clinical education of PAs as a preceptor, mentor, role model, speaker, and/or instructor.
“As an educator and practicing PA, recognition from my professional peers inspires me in the continual goal of prioritizing student clinical proficiency,” said Johnston.
Johnston has worked at The Dermatologic Center for Excellence in Clarence since 2014. She graduated from Daemen with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies and was named Student of the Year by the PA faculty.
Daemen Receives Innovation Funding from Univera Healthcare
Univera Healthcare named Daemen a recipient of one of its 2023 Health Equity Innovation Awards, which will provide $30,000 in funding to implement health equity training. The program will be delivered via the CILS Center, allowing simulations with actors portraying patients from diverse backgrounds to help healthcare educators develop authentic learning experiences.
Costelloe Appointed Daemen University’s Chief of Staff
In October, President Gary A. Olson appointed Kari Costelloe as the university’s new chief of staff. With nearly two decades of experience across academic, information technology, and business operations units, Costelloe’s work has focused on institutional transformation, governance, academic program development, and meaningful engagement.
University Helps Teen Filmmakers Bring Dreams to the Big Screen
Teenage filmmakers got to watch their talents play out on the big screen as part of the Rochester Teen Film Festival, and Daemen once again sponsored the event. The festival was held at the Little Theatre in August and featured the films of teens from Rochester, New York City, and as far away as Ireland. This is the third year Daemen has sponsored the annual event.
Murphy Appointed Second Vice President of Division II Athletics Directors Association
Daemen University Director of Athletics Traci Murphy has been appointed by the Division II Athletics Directors Association (DII ADA) to serve as the organization’s Second Vice President for the 2023-24 membership year.
The DII ADA is the first organization of its kind to provide educational and networking opportunities, enhancement of acceptable operating standards and ethics, and establishment of the overall prestige and understanding of the profession of Division II athletics directors. The DII ADA is administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, which is in its 59th year.
Murphy has served on the DII ADA Board of Directors for the past two years and has been leading Daemen Athletics since 2018.
Tilo Selected for Bahamas Senior National Team
Bahamas Football Association selected Jean Tilo, a defender on Daemen’s men’s soccer team, to represent his country and play for the Bahamas Senior National Team during the October and November matches of the CONCACAF Nations League games against Antigua, Barbuda, and Guyana.
A first-year player at Daemen, Tilo is believed to be the first player in the history of the athletics program to play for a national team.
Tilo, who played in 10 (nine starts) of Daemen’s 15 games this year, is confident the experience he gained playing for the national team will help him as he moves forward with the Wildcats.
“My confidence level is high right now and I am ready to face any challenge,” concluded Tilo.
Unveiling the Team IMPACT Wall of Fame
Daemen further solidified its ongoing relationship with Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization that matches children facing serious illness and disability with college sports teams, with the creation of the Team IMPACT Wall of Fame.
The display, which sits at the entrance of Lumsden Gymnasium, features photos of current Team IMPACT matches and a history of previous matches. Daemen currently has four teams matched with a child and boasts six Team IMPACT alums.
The Team IMPACT Wall of Fame was the brainchild of two student- athletes – Marina Maerkl and Maggie Burns. The project was made possible through an ongoing partnership with Tompkins Bank, which continues to support Daemen’s work with Team IMPACT.