President Olson: College Continues Momentum Despite Pandemic

By | April 16, 2021

President OlsonIn his annual spring State of the College address, Daemen College President Gary Olson emphasized the many accomplishments of the institution over the last academic year—despite the ongoing pandemic.

The virtual presentation served as the president’s traditional spring address, as well as the college’s annual awards ceremony, as the 2020-2021 academic year approaches its conclusion.

“I hope this will be the last time the State of the College Address is given virtually,” said Olson. “The light at the end of the tunnel is near, and we will return to in-person events in the not too distant future.”

While Olson acknowledged the significant stress the pandemic has placed on higher education—leading to substantial budget deficits, layoffs, and furloughs at other colleges—the president highlighted the college’s successful navigation of the ongoing pandemic and reiterated optimism for the institution’s future.

“Our many measures to protect the College community’s health and safety during the pandemic have proven effective,” said Olson. “Throughout the pandemic—and to this day—the Amherst campus has maintained a positivity rate of well under one-half of 1 percent.”

“This is an exemplary model for safety and we should all be proud of it,” he added.

Tenure and promotion

During the address, Olson recognized nine faculty members who received board approval for tenure and/or promotion, as well as four retired faculty who earned emeritus status.

College faculty were also applauded for data showing their dedication to maintaining quality instruction—and high academic standards—despite challenges attendant with the pandemic. For instance, the Office of Institutional Research conducted a comparison of grade distribution at the college for fall 2019 and fall 2020, which showed little change in the marks earned by students taking remote and in-person courses during the pandemic.

“We’ve maintained our academic rigor and integrity, while ensuring our students achieve a high level of academic success,” said Olson. “These data clearly demonstrate what a great job our faculty are doing during this time of crisis.”

Sports firsts

The president’s address also touched on numerous recent instances of regional and national recognition earned by the college—including the unprecedented milestones achieved by the college’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Daemen Athletics StatsBoth teams won berths to their respective NCAA’s Division II Basketball Tournaments—and both progressed as far as the Elite Eight.

Basketball student-athletes Caroline White and Andrew Sischo both earned top honors as the player of the year in the East Coast Conference (ECC). Coach of the women’s team, Jenepher Banker, was named women’s coach of the year for the ECC.

In addition, Olson touted the academic success of Daemen’s student-athletes, noting a collective Fall 2020 semester GPA of 3.25—with 14 of the 15 teams earning a 3.0 average or higher.

“One of the advantages of being a NCAA Division II institution is that the core value is excellence in both academics and athletics,” said Olson.

The full State of the College video—in which Olson also applauded many institutional, faculty, and staff accomplishments over the past academic year—can be viewed by logging onto MyDaemen.