The annual ringing of Founders Bell—one of the most prominent events of Founders Celebration—marked the college’s 74th anniversary, honored its tradition of academic excellence, and reflected on Daemen’s recent growth with an eye toward the future.
Opening the ceremony, Board of Trustees Chair John Yurtchuk remarked on the strength of Daemen’s reputation and standing in Western New York and in higher education—attributing the college’s stability through the pandemic to the leadership of President Gary Olson.
“It’s been an honor to witness how far we’ve come in nine years,” said Yurtchuk, referring to Olson’s near-decade at the helm of the college. “We’ve seen changes and improvements that have enriched all of us.”
Seven special guests each rang the bell, denoting the decades since Daemen’s founding as Rosary Hill College in 1947.
Every pull of the rope attached to the bell’s clapper let out a resounding ring that echoed across a campus safely in the midst of classes, activities and Founders Week celebrations.
“It is precisely the extraordinary personal attention to students that sets us apart,” Olson told those gathered. “Thank you for all you do to make this a special place.”
Bell ringers included Faculty Senate President Lisa Parshall, Student Government Association President Saferino Dour, Trustee Jo-Anne Grabowski ’73, Professor Emeritus William Predmore and Adriane Z. Williams ’01, an alum and director of the College’s Paul A. Saffrin Center for Sustainability and Civic Engagement.
Olson also spoke about the high levels of preparation among the college’s students, saying that its undergraduates exhibit a level of confidence and skill expected of graduate students—and Daemen’s graduate students enter their fields “better prepared than many professionals who have already been working for years.”
“I am proud to say that despite this impressive academic quality, Daemen is no ivory tower,” said Olson. “We have an unshakeable commitment to the community.”
Each year, as part of the college’s curriculum, students contribute nearly 30,000 hours of service to the community, Olson said, mentioning how students assist the underprivileged in preparing tax returns, provide free health-care to those in need, and help disadvantaged adults learn how to read and write.
Attendees at Founders Celebration included several distinguished guests, including Caroline Buerk ’59—an alum, former chair of the Board of Trustees and its longest-serving member in the college’s history—Lana Benatovich, Kathy Lawley-Best, Dorothy Ferguson, Scott Friedman, John Graves, Art Wingerter and Brenda Young.