AMHERST, N.Y. – Daemen College President Gary A. Olson will confer degrees to more than 950 undergraduate and graduate candidates in the Class of 2017 at the college’s 66th annual commencement on May 20 in Kleinhans Music Hall.
The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. and will include the presentation of the Charles Lumsden Award, the college’s most prestigious academic award, to the Daemen student with the highest GPA throughout their undergraduate years.
Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving New York’s 26th congressional district, will deliver the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony.
Currently in his seventh two-year term of office, Higgins is widely considered the principal architect of waterfront development in Buffalo and Western New York and led the fight for a quarter-billion dollar federal relicensing settlement from the New York Power Authority that continues to finance the transformation of Buffalo’s Inner and Outer Harbor waterfront.
Higgins serves as vice-ranking member on the House Committee on Ways and Means, is a co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus, and serves on several legislative committees.
He has traveled extensively through some of the most volatile regions in the world. In so doing, he has met with world leaders to promote peace in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, including Darfur, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Higgins earned an advanced degree in public policy and administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Buffalo State.
At the 7 p.m. graduate ceremony, the commencement address will be given by Robert M. Chur, president of Chur Companies of New York, Inc., and the Chur Family Foundation.
An entrepreneur and leader in residential health care management services for more than 40 years, Chur served for 35 years as president and chief executive officer of ElderWood Affiliates, Inc., which included 19 skilled nursing, assisted living, and independent living facility operations. During his tenure, two ElderWood Senior Care facilities earned the national American Health Care Association Gold Award, the highest quality designation in long-term health care, and a number of other honors.
Chur has held leadership positions with several national, state, and regional health care associations and community health agencies, and earned governor’s appointments to two state councils. Active in the Buffalo Niagara community, he currently serves on the board of trustees at Daemen College and Paul Smith College.
The New York State Legislature honored Chur with a proclamation in recognition of his achievements in senior care services, and he has received many other honors for his professional and community service.
Chur earned an MBA from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from St. Lawrence University. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, attaining the rank of captain.
During Daemen’s commencement ceremonies, keynote speakers Higgins and Chur will each be presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
Both undergraduate and graduate ceremonies will be streamed live online at daemen.edu/commencement.