School of Business Honors Graduates

May 11, 2024

The St. John Fisher University School of Business honored its bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates during a ceremony held on Saturday, May 11.

School of Business graduate Angelea Collins accepts her diploma from Dean Dan Connolley.

Before conferring degrees upon the Class of 2024, the University honored a special member of the campus community. Board of Trustee member Victor E. Salerno ’66, who passed away in December 2023, was posthumously awarded a President’s Medal for his lifelong dedication and support of the University.

Salerno earned a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from Fisher in 1966. In 1971, he joined O’Connell Electric Company as vice president and became CEO in 2006. His O’Connell career spanned 50 years, and when he retired from O’Connell in 2022 he stayed on as co-chairman of the Board of Directors.

His involvement at Fisher was extensive through his service on the Alumni Association Board of Directors as well as the Board of Trustees, of which he was a member since 2007. He was board chair for three years, and in 2016, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his service. Salerno was also most generous with his time, visiting the School of Business with regularity to meet with students during their classes, mentoring students one-on-one, and serving as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council. He was a tireless champion and dedicated supporter of his alma mater.

Salerno and his wife, Eileen, a former employee at Fisher, have been among the University’s most generous philanthropists. To date, their gift of $2 million to create the Victor E. Salerno Center for American Enterprise, in honor of Mr. Salerno’s father, is one of the institution’s largest gifts from an alumnus. In 2021, they also gave a gift of $1.6 million in support of the Victor E. Salerno, Sr. Scholarship, an endowed fund in his father’s name that supports full-time undergraduate students studying across all disciplines. The Salernos were inaugural members of the Presidents Society, and at the time of his passing, Mr. Salerno was serving as the chair of the University’s Fisher Forward campaign, contributing greatly to its success. Under his leadership, the University surpassed its original campaign goal of $75 million nearly one year ahead of schedule. With Salerno’s encouragement, in December 2022, the Board voted to increase the goal to $100 million and extend the campaign through 2025.

Vic’s children, Victor Salerno and Kim Vaquero, accepted the award and offered remarks on behalf of the Salerno family.

“Our dad was a remarkable man and he truly adored this community and the people in it; but he had a special affinity and devotion to St. John Fisher University. He credited his education at Fisher for providing him with a strong foundation from which he could build upon and succeed, and he did just that,” Vaquero said. “Students, as you embark on your careers, we encourage you to do some of the things that our father did. Work extremely hard, uphold high ethics and standards, and become involved in whatever community you make your home.”

After crossing the stage and receiving their diplomas, Angelea Collins, a marketing graduate, and Caleb Thomas, a management graduate, spoke on behalf of the graduates.

“As we are about to begin our next chapter, it is important to recognize the potential within each of us,” Collins said. “Our past experiences and future aspirations are significant; however, they are minuscule compared to the strength, resilience, and abilities we hold within ourselves; all of which will guide us through the challenges and triumphs that lie ahead.”