A Conversation with Amanda Gross

By | April 4, 2023

Amanda GrossWe sat down with Amanda Gross, Chief of Staff at Daemen University, to talk about her role at Daemen and to shed some light on what it means to be Chief of Staff at a University.

Tell us what you do as Chief of Staff

I have been at Daemen for almost five years and as chief of staff, every day is different. In a nutshell, I am a confidential advisor to the President where I serve on his cabinet, as a liaison to the board of trustees, and also oversee commencement in conjunction with the wonderful committee and lots of volunteers. Everything that comes up on President Olson’s plate, I am usually involved in in one way or another and I get to work with a wonderful group of cabinet colleagues everyday. The Chief of Staff is unique and reflective of the leader who hires the position as every leader expects something different. It is my job to cater to what President Olson sees that role being. The best example I can give is one from a former colleague of mine, who was also a chief of staff. She described it as “air traffic control.” In this role, you need to have enough of an idea of what is going on below to be able to give your boss the key facts but you don’t need to be in the weeds of everything.

What do you love about working at Daemen?

What I love about working at Daemen are the people on campus. This role allows me to work with individuals across campus, get to know a lot of them and work very collaboratively. We call ourselves the “Daemen Family” because it is such a collegial and friendly environment. That is the best part about working here. I went to a very small liberal arts college and thrived in that type of environment. What Daemen offers is a community that you immediately feel like you are a part of when you come to campus.

What is one of your favorite memories at Daemen?

One of my favorite memories is from 2021 when faculty and staff came together to put on six commencement ceremonies in one weekend, three on Friday and three on Saturday. After the last ceremony, I happened to look outside the window to the front lawn. The weather was beautiful and the sun was shining as all of the families made their way out to take photos. It was a nice pause after two long days and months of planning. It was wonderful to see the graduates enjoying their day with their families.

Can you tell us something we may not know about President Olson?

A lot of people may not know that before he decided to go into academia, he was an accomplished chef. He is vegetarian so he creates a lot of unique dishes, including a wonderful red sauce. I have been fortunate enough to have a jar and it is exceptional. My husband and I fight over servings of it, it is excellent.

As far as on campus, President Olson never makes a decision in a vacuum. He has a very collaborative cabinet and when we sit around the table together and a decision needs to be made, everyone’s voice is heard. If you aren’t speaking up he will call on you to give your opinion. He is very contemplative in that way, he wants to know what everyone’s thinking so all voices are heard and all inputs are considered. Everything is made collaboratively and with every potential unit, division and impact taken into account.

What did you do before coming to Daemen?

Prior to Daemen, my career was in college athletic administration. I was the Chief of Staff to the Athletic Director at the University of Buffalo. I am fortunate to have my current role as it allows me to grow outside of just athletics. I get to know faculty, the enrollment team and work with a much more diverse group of backgrounds. It’s been a great transition.