Commencement to be Celebrated on New Date

By | March 29, 2020

Students sitting and smiling at undergraduate ceremonyIn the interest of the health and safety of the campus community amid the coronavirus crisis, Daemen College President Gary Olson has announced the 2020 commencement ceremonies originally scheduled for May 16 have been postponed.

Daemen’s 69th annual commencement ceremonies have been rescheduled to Saturday Aug. 15 in Kleinhans Music Hall at 3 Symphony Circle in Buffalo. The undergraduate ceremony will take place at noon and the graduate ceremony will be held at 4:30 p.m.

“Given the unprecedented circumstances we are facing with the coronavirus pandemic, we have postponed our commencement ceremonies to a later date when we can come together as a campus community to honor and recognize our graduating students,” said Olson. “Commencement is the hallmark achievement of our students, and we are pleased to have worked out an alternate date for the ceremonies with our partners at Kleinhans.”

Dr. Michael Brogan, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, added, “Daemen’s commencement is a joyous occasion. We look forward to celebrating this academic milestone, which this year will hold even more special significance, with all of our graduating students, families, friends, and our college community.”

A decision on Daemen’s traditional pre-commencement activities and ceremonies will be made in the near future.

Brian Kulpa

Brian Kulpa

In sharing the news about Daemen’s commencement ceremonies, President Olson also announced that Amherst Supervisor Brian Kulpa, who leads Erie County’s second most populous suburb, will give the keynote address at the college’s graduate commencement ceremony. It will include the presentation of an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Kulpa.

“We are proud to have the leader of the Town of Amherst, which has been home to our college for more than 70 years, serve as speaker of our graduate commencement ceremony,” said Olson. “Supervisor Kulpa is a valued community partner and supporter of Daemen, particularly during this national crisis, whose devotion to public service will be a great inspiration to our graduating students.”

Since taking office as Amherst supervisor in 2018, Kulpa has focused on ensuring responsible redevelopment and protecting flood plains and greenspace. As part of his efforts to re-green Amherst, Kulpa joined with Daemen last fall to announce a college-town partnership with the ambitious goal of planting 1 million trees across town. The five-year initiative was launched with Daemen’s “22 for 22” campaign, aimed at planting 22 new mature trees on campus.

As supervisor, Kulpa is also focusing on transforming the old Westwood Country Club into Amherst Central Park and greenspace, implementing town-wide traffic and transportation planning, re-envisioning the Niagara Falls Boulevard corridor, and revising the town’s internal organization.

Kulpa serves on the Erie County Industrial Development Agency Board of Directors and is past president of the Association of Erie County Governments. He was honored as the 2018 Elected Official of the Year by the American Public Works Association.

During Kulpa’s tenure as mayor of Williamsville, the village received more than $11 million in state and federal grants for community planning and infrastructure projects along Main Street, and he spearheaded various other village projects and initiatives.

A licensed architect and urban planner, Kulpa was a senior associate architect and planner at Clark Patterson Lee, where he led the American Public Works Association and American Planning Association in the City of Tonawanda and West Seneca.

He earned a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urban and regional planning, both from the University at Buffalo.

Mark Emmert standing, smiling with arms crossed on his chest

Mark Emmert

As previously announced, NCAA President Mark Emmert, one of the most influential leaders in U.S. higher education and a long-time advocate for student academic success, will deliver the address at Daemen undergraduate commencement ceremony. He will also receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the ceremony.

“We are incredibly honored to have such a nationally renowned, highly respected leader as this year’s undergraduate commencement speaker,” said Gary Olson, who served on the NCAA Board of Governors. “We look forward to having Dr. Emmert join us in celebrating our graduating students.”

Emmert has distinguished himself as one of the most preeminent leaders in higher education today, and his insight, vision, and tireless efforts for students throughout the country will serve as a powerful example and inspiration for the graduating students.

Appointed NCAA president in 2010, Emmert oversees a vast organization comprised of nearly 1,100 colleges and universities, close to half a million college athletes, and more than 19,800 teams. He has championed greater support for student-athlete wellness and academic success, and he has ushered in a new governance structure in Division I.

His commitment to academic success, well-being, and fairness has resulted in several key initiatives, including the NCAA Sport Science Institute, Commission on College Basketball, and increasing student engagement throughout the governance process.

Prior to the NCAA, Emmert served as president of his alma mater, the University of Washington, where he holds the title of president emeritus. During his tenure, the university became second among all public and private institutions in research funding, totaling $1.3 billion in annual grants and contracts. The university also completed a $2.6 billion fundraising campaign under his leadership.

Emmert’s distinguished career in higher education has included other administrative positions as chancellor of Louisiana State University, provost and chancellor of the University of Connecticut, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Montana State University-Bozeman, and various academic administrative positions at the University of Colorado.

A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Emmert is former chair of the executive group of the Worldwide Universities Network and has served on the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, among others. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a past American Council on Education Fellow and J.W. Fulbright Administrative Fellow.

Emmert earned a doctorate and a master’s degree in public administration, both from Syracuse University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington.

With rescheduling both the undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies, Olson noted, “We are proud of our graduating students and the hard work they have put into their academic journeys, an achievement that deserves to be honored with a first-class, in-person ceremony. I offer my deepest thanks to our remarkable faculty and staff for their continued support and dedication to Daemen as we navigate this national emergency.”