As Daemen College looks to build on its history of excellence, the college kicks off its first-ever comprehensive capital campaign with a vision to take the institution to new heights.
Daemen College’s history of academic excellence over the past seven decades and its prominence in higher education has elevated the college to national distinction. In celebration of its successes, President Gary A. Olson announced the public launch of the college’s “Drive to 75” campaign before a capacity crowd at Daemen’s 70th Anniversary Gala. This historic and ambitious fundraising effort marks the college’s first-ever comprehensive capital campaign, with a goal of raising $22 million over the next five years.
“As I was announcing the campaign at the gala, we had already raised 74 percent of the goal,” recalls Olson. “I remarked at the podium that only one generous gift could bring us to 75 percent. Bill Gacioch, a long-time Daemen benefactor, stepped up and wowed the crowd with a donation in honor of his wife, Nancy, enabling us to reach that goal! It was truly an electrifying moment that demonstrated that people really want to be a part of the exciting momentum happening at Daemen College.”
The “Drive to 75” campaign, which was announced as the culmination of the college’s inaugural Founders Celebration held in September, is the largest campaign in the history of Daemen (formerly Rosary Hill College).
According to Craig Harris, vice president for institutional advancement, all those involved—from college leadership to the campaign co-chairs to the college’s generous donors—share a vision for Daemen to continue competing with the best colleges in the nation.
“This is a very exciting time at Daemen College, and our campaign vision and leadership will help ensure that the momentum continues,” Harris explains. “The response from donors—including alumni, faculty, staff, and community members—shows that they believe in Daemen and want to support this unique educational institution that has had a positive impact on many people.”
The “Drive to 75” campaign seeks to raise $22 million by 2022, at which time the college will mark its 75th anniversary. Campaign priorities include improving educational and academic offerings, enhancing campus facilities, and strengthening the college’s endowment.
Nancy Haberman Gacioch, ’62, and former congressman Thomas Reynolds, are serving as co-chairs of the campaign, and Dr. Denise Mills, associate professor of Spanish, and Kim Pagano, ’07, assistant dean for student engagement, are serving as faculty-staff campaign co-chairs.
“Current and past leadership put the college on the map. Now, this important campaign will keep us moving in the right direction.”
Nancy Haberman Gacioch, ’62
“I did not hesitate to say yes when I was asked to cochair the campaign,” notes Haberman Gacioch, who studied history and economics at the college when it was Rosary Hill. “Daemen has seen exceptional growth since the time I was a student, yet the personal attention you find at a small college still remains. Current and past leadership put the college on the map. Now, this important campaign will keep us moving in the right direction.”
Building on Strengths
Thomas Reynolds has more than 35 years of experience in public service, including roles in town and county government, the New York State Assembly, and 10 years as a U.S. congressman. Currently serving on the Daemen Board of Trustees, he points out the importance of the college to the Western New York community and beyond.
“I have come to know Daemen over the years in various government roles, and the more I became involved, the more I grew to love the college,” recalls Reynolds, who received an honorary degree from the college in 2000. “Daemen plays a pivotal role in the community by educating students and excelling in many areas, from special education and service learning to physical therapy and wound healing. It is critical that we build upon these strengths.”
The “Drive to 75” campaign is being propelled forward with the generous support of donors, including an unprecedented $1 million gift from the Paul A. Saffrin Foundation, the largest private gift in the college’s history. During Founders Celebration, Daemen’s Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement was officially dedicated and a plaque was unveiled to commemorate the naming in honor of Paul Saffrin’s immense generosity.
With this endowed gift, the center’s efforts will be advanced and new opportunities created for students, faculty, and staff to engage with communities. It will also allow the center to enhance its efforts in building a more sustainable future and addressing environmental issues to promote the well-being of communities around the world.
In addition to the Saffrin Foundation donation, the campaign is off to a tremendous start with other significant gifts that have created a solid foundation on which to build the campaign. Recently, Daemen President Gary A. Olson and his wife, renowned scholar and educator Dr. Lynn Worsham, pledged a $1 million bequest to the college as part of the campaign.
To take Daemen’s level of excellence to new heights, the “Drive to 75” campaign will be vital to advancing Daemen’s academic programs and its learning facilities, notes Dr. Michael Brogan, ’84, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college.
“The capital campaign supports just about every aspect of academics at Daemen, from student scholarships so essential for many, to international study abroad programs, to the new Saffrin Center where we teach about service to the community,” says Brogan. “I have never been more proud of the college and the extent and breadth of commitment we have received for the campaign.”
Professor Denise Mills, who is serving as facultystaff campaign co-chair, has supported Daemen for years and over her 30-year career has seen first-hand the positive impact the college has on its students.
“For a long-time faculty member like me, giving is a way to leave a legacy, while newer professors and staff may see it as a way to contribute to the future of academics at Daemen,” she notes. “This campaign allows donors to designate funds for specific areas at Daemen, and faculty members can join together to make a larger gift.”
Having reached a remarkable 75 percent of the goal, the “Drive to 75” campaign will continue its strong momentum forward, emphasizes Harris. “We still have work to do to cross the finish line,” he says. “All gifts received in the next phase of the campaign will have a huge impact, and we encourage everyone to take part in this major fundraising effort.”
Reynolds adds, “Every gift is important and every gift counts, whether large or small. When you look at what the college has done, where we are today, and what we can accomplish with this campaign, there has never been a more exciting time at Daemen College than right now.”