Saturday, March 24, 2012

St. Bonaventure officials break ground on Swan Business Center; expected to open 2013

Pictured at groundbreaking ceremonies Friday are (from left) Michael Fischer, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs; Carol Fischer, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business; Brenda McGee, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration; Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., University President; Robert Daugherty, University Trustee and Chair of the School of Business fundraising campaign; Ann Swan, philanthropist and wife of the late William Swan, whom the building will be named after; Sue Watson, a former SBU faculty member whose husband, the late John G. Watson, was a revered faculty member and dean of the School of Business; John R. McGinley Jr., Chair of the Board of Trustees; Jeffrey Peterson, Ph.D., Chair of the Finance Department in the School of Business; and Raymond Dee, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees.

On a warm spring afternoon, St. Bonaventure University officials broke ground on the William E. & Ann L. Swan Business Center, a new home for the School of Business that’s expected to open in the fall of 2013.

Ann Swan donated $3 million to the building campaign in honor of her late husband, William E. Swan, ’69, a longtime Western New York business leader and philanthropist, and a dedicated university alumnus and Board of Trustees chair. 

Making note of the “magical run we’ve had at St. Bonaventure the last few weeks” in basketball, Robert Daugherty, ’77, trustee and chair of the building campaign, talked about the coaches (campaign steering committee), team (fundraising staff) and fans (donors) who were critical to fulfilling the dream of the Swan Business Center.

Daugherty also spoke about inspiration and luck, ingredients often vital in sports.

“Our inspiration came from a very good friend, John Watson,” Daugherty said, fighting back tears. “He soldiered with me every step of the way on this. Thank you, John.”

Watson, who spent 35 years at the university, was just weeks from retiring as School of Business dean when he collapsed and died of a heart attack last April while attending a reunion in York, Pa.

Daugherty said luck came in the form of Ann Swan.

“She was looking for a meaningful way to honor her husband, so we got very lucky,” he said. “Her contribution gave us life, gave us the wind behind our sails to make this happen.”

The 26,000-square-foot Swan Business Center will feature a financial services lab with electronic ticker tape, a corporate boardroom, state-of-the-art classrooms, break-out areas, spaces for student collaboration, team building, and faculty research, a dean’s suite, innovative technology uses, and a serious commitment to sustainability.   

“With sustainable design elements and environmentally friendly features, the new building will fully embrace our Franciscan heritage in honoring our environment and will be the most ‘green’ building on the St. Bonaventure campus,” said Brenda McGee, senior vice president for finance and administration at St. Bonaventure.

The center will be built south of Friedsam Library, between Reilly Center and Plassmann Hall, and will create a new quad to promote further development of community within the campus. Project bids were delivered Thursday, and “digging will begin in a couple of weeks,” well ahead of schedule, McGee said.

“This is just one more in a string of great occasions that’s brought us together to celebrate over the last month,” said Dr. Michael Fischer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “What a great day for us.”

The university is in the midst of a $15 million campaign for the creation of the new building: $10 million for the construction of the business center; $4 million in endowments for faculty and programmatic support; and $1 million in endowment for building sustainability. To date, more than $13 million has been raised.

St. Bonaventure University is one of the smallest institutions accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a distinction only 5 percent of business schools have achieved worldwide.

A 1969 graduate of St. Bonaventure, Mr. Swan served as chair, president and chief executive officer of First Niagara Financial Group and First Niagara Bank, which he joined in 1987 after 18 years with M&T Bank. He died in 2003.

Donations to the campaign may be made by visiting or by calling (800) 664-1273.     

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