Daemen College’s inaugural Founders Celebration scheduled for Sept. 7 and 8 will launch a new annual tradition to commemorate the college’s rich history of academic excellence as it marks its 70th anniversary this year.
As part of the two-day campus-wide celebration, Daemen will formally kick-off its first-ever comprehensive capital campaign at a 70thAnniversary Gala to be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 8 at The Buffalo Club. Proceeds from this premier event will support Daemen student scholarships.
“This is a milestone year in Daemen’s history as we mark 70 years of academic excellence and honor the enduring spirit and legacy of our founders, whose vision is reflected in our mission, values, and steadfast commitment to our students,” said Daemen President Gary A. Olson. “The Founders Celebration will give us an opportunity to come together each year as a college community to honor our origins and to celebrate our promising future.”
The institution was founded in 1947 as Rosary Hill College by the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity. Established as a liberal arts college for women, it became co-educational in 1971, and was renamed Daemen College in 1976 as an independent, nonsectarian institution while staying true to its roots as Rosary Hill College.
The Founders Celebration will kick-off at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 7 with a dedication ceremony and ringing of the college’s new Founders Bell, which was initially crafted in 1858 by the renowned Meneely Bell Foundry. A gift to Daemen from Iskalo Development Corp., the historic bell, which originally graced St. Margaret’s School in North Buffalo, was refurbished thanks to the support of the college’s Class of 1967.
To mark the college’s 70th anniversary, the first ceremonial use of the Founders Bell will include one ring for each decade since the college was established. Dr. Thomas Stewart, chair of the Daemen Board of Trustees; a representative of the Sisters of St. Francis, the college’s founding congregation; and other selected individuals from the campus community will serve as official ringers at the dedication. An all-campus luncheon will immediately follow the ceremony.
The Founders Bell has been installed adjacent to Founders Walkway, located outside Daemen’s historic Rosary Hall, site of the college’s earliest commencement ceremonies. Resting on a stone base, the bell’s foundation denotes the strength and stability of the college over the past seven decades.
Also on Sept. 7, a college memorabilia exhibit featuring clothing, posters, mugs, and other mementos from the past 70 years will be on display throughout the day in the Wick Center’s Alumni Lounge. Kathryn Hammer, alumni relations director, will be on hand from 2 to 3 p.m. to answer historical questions about the college.
The day will also feature a grand opening and dedication from 3 to 4 p.m. in Duns Scotus Room 226 for the Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement, named in honor of an historic $1 million gift from the Saffrin Foundation.
The event will include a ribbon cutting and the official unveiling of a plaque for the newly named center. Remarks will be given by President Olson, Paul Saffrin, and other invited speakers.
The first day of the Daemen Founders Celebration will conclude with guest speaker Scott Dikkers, founder and longest-serving editor-in-chief of The Onion. His lecture, “The Funny Story Behind the Funny Story,” will be held at 5 p.m. in the Wick Social Room, with a reception scheduled until 6:30 p.m. to follow the presentation.
Dikkers will talk about seizing new opportunities and will share his story of starting The Onion, which has become one of the most widely read satirical newspapers.
On Sept. 8, the college will hold its third annual Daemen Day in Amherst, a special celebration to connect the college community with Main Street’s thriving business district.
Free trolley rides will be provided from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. up and down Main Street to offer the Daemen community a chance to visit, shop, and dine at a range of establishments in the Williamsville business district. Complimentary Daemen Day in Amherst t-shirts will be handed out to the first 100 visitors at the Daemen Day booth located at the village plaza near Sweet Jenny’s.
During the celebration, students, faculty, and staff with college ID will be eligible for substantial discounts at businesses displaying Daemen Day in Amherst window signs. Maps displaying participating businesses and discounts will be distributed at a Daemen Day booth on campus and will also be available with a special app created for the event. Willy the Wildcat, the college mascot, will be in attendance, and hourly prizes and giveaways will be handed out at the village plaza booth.
Other Daemen Day in Amherst activities will include a wellness walking challenge for Daemen employees; student organization fair from11 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside the Wick Center; women’s soccer match against Lake Erie College at 4 p.m. at The Park School’s Karrer Field, home of Daemen’s men’s and women’s soccer teams; tailgate patio party from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Wick Center; and an outdoor movie showing of “Wonder Woman” at 8 p.m. on the campus front lawn.
The Founders Celebration will culminate with a 70th Anniversary Gala, where the public launch of Daemen’s first comprehensive campaign will be announced. The campaign will support three priorities: student scholarships, campus facilities, and faculty and academic programs.
“For 70 years, Daemen has offered a first-class education and college experience while empowering students to achieve professional success,” said Craig Harris, vice president for institutional advancement. “This campaign will propel Daemen forward as we continue to build and strengthen our institution as one of the best colleges in the country.”
All Daemen Founders Celebration events, excluding the 70th Anniversary Gala, are free and open to the public. Additional information is available at www.daemen.edu/founderscelebration.