Increased enrollment, greater diversity, innovative new programs, and development of a global focus were but some of the progressive changes that took place over the tenure of former Daemen College president and longtime educator Dr. Edwin Clausen.
Assuming Daemen’s presidency in 2011, Dr. Clausen left the position earlier this year to pursue other opportunities in California where he has moved with his wife, Joyce. He first came to Daemen in 2000 and began working with thenpresident Dr. Martin Anisman to develop new academic programs.
“Back then, I was attracted to Daemen because Dr. Anisman was a relatively new president who had a vision for the College and knew what had to be done,” Dr. Clausen explains. “I saw a smart faculty with a lot of energy and I felt if anyone could make it happen, they could. Positive changes came quickly because we worked together.”
Developing a world view.
Dr. Clausen grew up in San Francisco, the son of a well-known surgeon and a mother who was highly regarded for her philanthropy. He said the diverse ethnic cultures of the Bay Area were a strong influence on him and his parents’ intellectual pursuits fueled his curiosity about the world.
With a bachelor’s degree in history from University of California, Riverside, Dr. Clausen went to live in Taiwan where he taught English. He soon became enamored with Chinese history. He returned home to earn a Master’s degree in history and a Ph.D. in modern Chinese history from University of California at Santa Barbara. He went back to China after earning his Ph.D. to live and travel for a while.
A diverse career path.
Dr. Clausen returned home and began his teaching career as a lecturer at University of California at Santa Barbara. He went on to become an assistant professor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania and then associate professor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. While in Tacoma, he became director of global studies and chair of the Department of History at the university.
From there, Dr. Clausen was recruited to join Arizona International College (AIC), envisioned to be Arizona’s fourth public college, located within the University of Arizona in Tucson.
“We literally built AIC from the ground up, as there was not even one building in place when I started,” Dr. Clausen recalls. “I had the benefit of working with some of the most important educators in the country who served on the AIC advisory board to create this new college.”
Dr. Clausen served at AIC for five years and the school had become the second largest college on the Arizona campus. It was then he decided to make a change.
“The school was up and running, and I have always felt an educational institution has to be organic — you have to allow change to happen,” he says.
A friend in Buffalo called Dr. Clausen and told him about the vice president position at Daemen. He had never heard of the college, but the more he learned about its president’s vision, the more he saw a place for himself.
“The principles that drove what we did at AIC seemed to be driving what Dr. Anisman had planned for Daemen,” Dr. Clausen says.
Making a difference at Daemen.
Dr. Clausen and the college president shared the same desire to take the school to the next level. Over Dr. Clausen’s tenure, Daemen saw its student population increase significantly – from under 2,000 students to today’s total enrollment of nearly 3,000. The College succeeded in goals of becoming more selective, while also increasing diversity. Moreover, during this period Daemen fostered global competency of its students and faculty by increasing global content in the curriculum, and continuing to grow its population of international students.
Most recently, during Dr. Clausen’s presidency, the Haberman Gacioch Center for Visual & Performing Arts opened on campus, a $5.4 million adaptive use project in the former Marian Library. The largest single gift from an alumna in the history of the college helped make the Center possible.
Dr. Clausen was instrumental in creating the Daemen Animation Program and the International Center for Excellence in Animation in Buffalo’s Tri-Main Center. He was also a guiding force in the development of the Daemen Research & Information Commons, which opened in 2009.
Dr. Clausen is quick to point out that none of the advances at Daemen College happened because of any one person. “There has always been extraordinary collaboration at Daemen,” he notes. “I can’t stress enough that change came because we worked together.”
While changes were taking place on the Daemen campus, things were happening in Western New York as well. Dr. Clausen saw opportunities for Daemen College to enhance its position in the community and take part in its resurgence, reaching a goal of Daemen by becoming more selective while also increasing diversity.
“Daemen has always played a role in Western New York as a model for higher education, a voice for social good, and a resource for the community,” he says. “I was proud to be part of several initiatives with the community.”
One recent example is the 2012 opening of the Daemen College Physical Therapy Wound Care Clinic — the first in New York State administered by a college. Located off campus, the clinic serves patients suffering from chronic wounds. It is a collaboration of the college and independent health care providers with the backing of local government leaders.
Dr. Clausen traveled the world and taught in China. He chaired a history department and wrote a number of books. He helped build a college from the ground up in Arizona. And he was a college president in Buffalo. Wherever the road leads next, Dr. Clausen says he will first take some time to rest.
Plans include finishing a couple of books — one on travels in China, the other a look at his hometown, San Francisco. He and his wife plan on devoting volunteer time to Clausen House, a non-profit organization that offers services for adults with disabilities in the Oakland area. Clausen’s family founded it as a group home in 1967, a pioneering concept at the time.
Of all his accomplishments at Daemen, Dr. Clausen says he is most proud of the vibrant atmosphere that has been created on campus, and of the type of motivated, service-oriented students the college graduates year after year.
“Daemen College represents the richest professional experience I have ever had, and it was also the warmest because of the people at the college and in the community,” he concludes.