Daemen receives largest private gift in its history

Nov 1, 2016

Daemen College in Amherst has received a $1 million gift. It is the largest private donation to the school’s history.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says it comes from Orchard Park businessman Paul Saffrin, CEO of Tonawanda Coke.   

Daemen President Gary Olson, Paul Saffrin, and Dr. Thomas Stewart, chair of the Daemen Board of Trustees.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“The historic gift has designated specifically for the advancement of our Centers for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement,” declared Gary Olson, Daemen President Gary.

President Gary A. Olson & Paul Saffrin at Tuesday's announcement.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Olson announcing the major gift during a news conference on the College’s Amherst campus Tuesday morning.

Saffrin’s company, Tonawanda Coke, was found guilty in 2013 of violating the Clean Air Act.  But at Tuesday’s announcement Saffrin was proud to appear publicly and provide funding from his foundation to assist the College.

“It’s a great privilege to offer my support for the Center of Sustainability and Civic Engagement and to be part of creating a strong environmental legacy. The Center’s vision is one that aligns with my own,” stated Saffrin.   

Daemen's Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement Center will now be named after Saffrin.

WBFO News asked Saffrin if this was a big step forward to appear in public since the Tonawanda Coke decision.  

“I would say that we’ve always, I have always, and the Foundation has always given to the community. This is the first time that we’ve come out publicly,” responded Saffrim.  

Orchard Park businessman Paul Saffrin talks about his gift to Daemen.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

President Olson said this endowment will allow the college to work on its community service program at new levels.

“We give between 23,000 and 30,000 hours of community service every year to usually underprivileged parts of the Buffalo area and with this gift we will be able to do so much more,” explained Olson.  “By community service, I mean usually these are linked to various classes, so for example our accounting students will go and give free tax consulting to people that can’t afford it. Our healthcare students will go and give free healthcare to people, that kind of community service, so it’s always linked to particular kind of classes.”  

Daemen will be moving its 15-year sustainable headquarters to a larger area on the college campus.

Saffrin said he was 'deeply impressed' with Olson's vision for the College and wanted to be a part of it.