State of College Spotlights Daemen’s Strengths

By | October 5, 2021

President Gary Olson

In his fall State of the College speech, President Gary Olson noted that increased enrollment, successful COVID-19 prevention measures, campus improvement projects, and other recent achievements signify that the institution continues to thrive—even as the pandemic’s headwinds continue to create challenges in higher education.

“I’m delighted to report that student enrollment for this year is much better than we could have hoped,” Olson said. 

The college welcomed the largest incoming class of graduate students in its history, with 205 enrollees this fall. 

First-year enrollment is up by 50 students over last fall. In addition, transfer enrollment was significantly ahead of the prior year’s pace. 

These milestones do not include enrollment for the college’s Brooklyn branch campus, which will be finalized later this month. 

The enrollment numbers are especially impressive, Olson noted, given that measures typically taken to bring in a class—campus tours, recruitment fairs, visits to high schools—were largely unable to occur since March 2020. 

Closer to normal

Olson delivered the biannual address virtually—in a video made available on MyDaemen—and expressed hope that the spring State of the College can once again gather the Daemen community together safely in-person.

Olson, during 2021 State of the College

The president lauded Daemen’s COVID-19 response, calling attention to the college’s high percentage of vaccinated students, at more than 83 percent—and regular and part-time staff, at more than 89 percent.

“We were able to reach these impressive numbers without implementing a campus-wide mandate,” he said, “and additional vaccinations are still being completed each day.”

Citing President Biden’s executive order announced Sept. 9—which seeks to mandate vaccinations at businesses with over 100 employees—Olson re-iterated the college’s decision to require all non-vaccinated faculty and staff receive their final doses by Nov. 1, with weekly testing required before the deadline. 

“We also established a process for individuals who wish to request exemption on religious or medical grounds,” Olson said. 

Home field

Olson’s address also included an update on the home athletics field and facility planned for the college. Working in partnership with the Town of Amherst to develop West Royal Park—less than two miles from campus— into a turf field and athletic complex, Daemen has secured a $2.4 million state grant to contribute toward the project. 

This facility will provide Daemen with a state-of-the-art turf field, a 1,000-seat stadium, six tennis courts, and modern facilities for athletes, sporting professionals and spectators. Currently, plans call for a groundbreaking to take place in summer 2022. 

“We are making substantial progress on bringing to fruition this long-held dream,” Olson said. “This is a huge step in enhancing Daemen’s footprint, providing our student-athletes with a top notch NCAA Division II athletic facility, and creating additional outdoor recreational space for our students.”

Olson also congratulated 50 Daemen student-athletes who earned national recognition by qualifying for the NCAA Division II Athletic Directors Association Academic Achievement Awards, which requires a minimum 3.5 GPA.  

“This is a tribute to our student-athletes and a point of pride as we continue to compete nationally,” said Olson, “both on the athletic and academic levels.”