The Inauguration took place in Wick Center, before members of the Daemen community, family members, business and government leaders, and members of the Amherst community as well as delegates from regional higher education institutions.
Special guests included U.S. Representative Brian Higgins; University at Buffalo President Dr. Satish Tripathi; Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown; and members of the Daemen Board of Trustees, as well as other state and local elected officials.
In his welcome to President Olson, Representative Higgins said, “There is a sense of momentum and excitement in Western New York now, and at Daemen College as well. Dr. Olson, I wish you and your administration continued success as we work together to keep the momentum moving forward in Western New York and at Daemen.”
UB President Dr. Tripathi said, “President Olson, you have arrived at an exciting time for our region’s higher education institutions. Western New York is rich in educational opportunities: from excellent community colleges to liberal arts colleges, teaching institutions, and large research universities. Collectively, our 21 institutions are educating over one hundred and ten thousand students in our region. Together, we serve 2 as a driving force for our region’s 21st century knowledge economy.”
“The Inauguration of our sixth president, Gary A. Olson, marks the start of a new era in Daemen’s history,” said Daemen Board of Trustees Chair Dale Demyanick.
“From our earliest years as Rosary Hill College, to today’s cutting edge programs in the sciences and visual arts, we have maintained our focus: Excellence in teaching and learning, imparting the value of giving back to communities, and providing an education that is second to none.”
Following the formal investiture of office, President Olson discussed his vision for the College in his inaugural address.
After he unfolded many specifics about the excellent progress Daemen has made and the bright future it has, he said: “ . . . it is common for those in the know to call Daemen an “undiscovered gem”—undiscovered by the general population. This, I believe, is all too true. And this is precisely the context from which a vision for the future derives.
This is the path—(whether they were conscious of it or not)—that the brave nuns who founded this great college (through their endless toil and grit and dedication and sacrifice) began travelling down in 1947 in a solitary building called Rosary Hall.
This is the path that those dedicated faculty and staff who followed in their footsteps continued on and enhanced over the decades, day by day, semester by semester, year by year, student by student—in our classrooms and laboratories, our studios and lecture halls.
This is the path that thousands of talented students have taken over the decades—from the courageous young women who defied the social expectations of their era by attending college in the first place, to our present-day students who are learning to create the animated films of tomorrow.
This is the path that generations of selfless trustees through their support, their time, their guidance and even their own money empowered us all to traverse.
This is the path both of our past and of our future. This is the path toward greatness for Daemen.
“We have an unshakable commitment to communities. Contributing more than 30,000 hours of volunteer time annually, Daemen students, faculty, and staff champion the value of giving back. And with an economic impact of $114 million, Daemen is a major economic engine in the region.
“My vision is of a college that will expand its impact and achievement not just nationally, but internationally as well.”
A reception in the Haberman Gacioch Center for Visual & Performing Arts immediately followed the ceremony.
The College also held an Inaugural Gala later in the evening in Wick Center. Proceeds from the event will go toward Daemen scholarships.
About President Gary A.Olson
Dr. Olson obtained his Ph.D. in literary criticism and rhetoric from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1980. He also holds a Master’s degree from the University of Connecticut, and a Bachelor’s from Kings College. His early research at the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington focused on rhetoric and writing studies.
Dr. Olson writes a popular monthly column on higher education administration for the Chronicle of Higher Education and a weekly column for the Huffington Post on a broad range of issues in contemporary higher education.
He is co-editor, with John W. Presley, of The Future of Higher Education: Perspectives from America’s Academic Leaders (Paradigm, 2009).
He is also the author or editor (often in collaboration) of 20 books and over 100 essays and articles and has written on a number of subjects central to rhetoric studies, including the role of theory in rhetorical scholarship, the connections between ideology and discourse, and the contributions of Stanley Fish.
From 2009-2011 Dr. Olson served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Idaho State University. A multi-campus, Carnegie Foundation “Research High” doctoral university, Idaho State serves as the state’s principal university promoting education in the healthcare professions and related sciences. He oversaw seven colleges, ISU’s libraries, and the Idaho Museum of Natural History.
Prior to this, Dr. Olson served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Illinois State University from 2004-2009.
For nearly two decades (1985-2004), Dr. Olson served as an administrator and faculty member at the University of South Florida, one of the nation’s top 63 public research universities.