Daemen Alumni, Students, and Families Build Community during Founders Celebration

By | October 4, 2022

Daemen Day in Amherst check inThis year’s Founders Celebration saw the university exceed its Drive to 75 campaign goal, as well as the grandest ringing of Founders Bell with participants from across campus. 

In addition, students, their families, and alums came together to build bonds and community through the Distinguished Alumni Awards held Friday, Sept. 30; Daemen Day in Amherst on Saturday, Oct. 1; as well as additional on-campus social events throughout the celebration. 

“Overall, it was great to come together and celebrate as a community,” said Tony Fulgenzio, interim vice president for advancement. “The Distinguished Alumni Awards are the highest honor bestowed to alumni at an institution of higher education. The ceremony highlighted the accomplishments of some of our most successful, ambitious alumni.”

This year’s recipients and awards included Nancy Gacioch ’62, Diamond Anniversary Distinguished Alum Award; Phylicia Dove ’15, Distinguished Alumni Award; the late Randy Gerlach ’78, Outstanding Service to the Community; and Kathryn Belliotti Hammer ’06, Dedication to the University. 

“Each award recipient had a unique journey in their life and career, but at the core of each of these personal stories was the profound impact that their alma mater played in shaping the professional or community leader that they have become. There was laughter, a few tears, and a ballroom full of Daemen fellowship.”

The event also helped inspire all in attendance, including current students who have the opportunity to witness the impact these individuals have made, explained Emily Hockwater (Kraft) ’16, director of Alumni Relations.

“The event hosted many remarkable people in one place. The talent and dedication of our alumni in their professions, community, and for their alma mater, is unmatched,” said Hockwater.

Daemen Day in Amherst student participantOn Saturday the Daemen community came together once again for Daemen Day in Amherst, where they made their way down Main Street to explore the surrounding community.

“Daemen Day in Amherst is our way of partnering with our business neighbors by bringing our students and their visiting families into town to enjoy all that our community has to offer,” said Fulgenzio. “Businesses provide discounts and other incentives, while we provide shuttle transportation from Daemen right to the heart of our business district for our students and Daemen families.”

This year, local businesses held a boutique crawl for the public, which “provided even more activity,” said Fulgenzio. “Our mascot, Willie the Wildcat, was on hand to greet families, and everyone enjoyed the day under a bright blue autumn sky.”

“Daemen Day in Amherst is truly a time where we see students, families and alumni interact together and build relationships,” said Hockwater. “Alumni also give tips and advice to students on how they can succeed after graduation. It is a great opportunity to bond and network with fellow members of our wonderful community at Daemen.”

Additional family-friendly activities were also featured on campus, including a casino night, s’more night, food truck rodeo, and music festival. 

“Everything we do is really to celebrate Daemen and how we have grown and have continued to develop throughout the years,” said Kimberly Pagano, assistant dean for student engagement. “We always receive positive feedback from not only the students, but their families and alumni as well. Those who return to the event annually often talk about how nice it is to come together and see all the familiar faces of our staff who help make Daemen such a special community.”

Pagano said plans are already in the works to make Founder’s Celebration even “bigger and better” next year. 

Stay up to date with Daemen events via the university’s online calendar