The Daemen College Presidential Medal—the college’s highest recognition of individuals who serve as a strong, positive role model for students and alums—was awarded to Board of Trustees Chair John Yurtchuk, in a special ceremony held July 29 in Rosary Hall.
Honoring individuals who have made a significant effort to improve the quality of life in Western New York, the award is reserved for those who have also made contributions toward the growth and advancement of Daemen, and have invested substantial time, effort and resources to improve the world and humanity.
“Only a very small, elite group of exceptionally accomplished individuals have ever earned this rare distinction,” Daemen President Gary Olson told those gathered. “I can think of no one more deserving to receive our highest honor.”
Yurtchuk, a member of the Daemen Board since 2014, is chairman and owner of Buffalo-headquartered Calspan Holdings—a science and technology company founded in 1943 that he acquired in 2005 with a partner.
An industry leader in flight control, test pilot training and a wide range of transportation testing and research—both domestically and with foreign governments—Calspan has more than a dozen facilities around the country, including in Niagara Falls, New York; Edwards Air Force Base in California and at the Patuxent River Naval Base in Maryland.
A real estate developer since 1982, Yurtchuk also founded Matrix Development Corporation and developed millions of square feet of commercial real estate—including medical, industrial and residential projects for a range of high-profile clients, including KeyBank, Northwestern Mutual Life, John Hancock Life Insurance, Ford Motor Credit and Bank One—in many U.S. locations, including New York City, Florida and Western New York.
A professional economist and former Wall Street banker, Yurtchuk’s career has also included stints as a college instructor at numerous institutions of higher learning.
“Education has always held a special place for me,” said Yurtchuk, addressing family, friends and invited guests. “I am proud and honored to receive this distinction from Dr. Olson, who has shown tremendous leadership at Daemen—a special place we care for deeply.”
As chair of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) Board of Trustees, Yurtchuk also thanked a quartet of musicians from the ensemble, who played during the July 29 reception.
In addition to his service to Daemen, the BPO, Yurtchuk is on the board of directors for the National Trust for the Humanities, a philanthropic organization that supports the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Yurtchuk also serves on the boards of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Eyes Across America, Friends for Felines, and is the chairman-elect of the board of the Western New York Chapter of the American Red Cross, having previously served as chair of the American Red Cross Greater Buffalo Branch.