D'Youville College celebrated its first inauguration in 38 years at Kleinhans Music Hall on Sept. 29, marking a 'passing of the torch' from former president, Sister Denise Roche, GNSH, to Lorrie Clemo, Ph.D. Clemo has been serving in the role of D'Youville's president since last December, with plans to make the college a leader in developing health professional leaders. "That is our goal going forward," Clemo said.
"Dr. Clemo has stepped into this essential role with tangible joy, true faith and a generous spirit," said Bishop Richard J. Malone in welcoming remarks at the installation. "Thank you for your commitment to D'Youville's mission and identity. Thank you for honoring its Catholic heritage in the spirit of St. Marguerite d'Youville and the Grey Nuns, whose faith and dedication brought the college into existence and nurtured it along the way."
Clemo grew up in Syracuse and credits a Jesuit mentor named Father Frank Nash, SJ at LeMoyne College for steering her toward an inner city youth program operated by Catholic Charities in Syracuse. "That sort of set me in the direction of wanting to go into a service profession. I loved it so much. I thought my impact was still too narrow and I really wanted to go on and get a graduate degree in public policy to make more significant changes in our educational system," Clemo commented.
She earned her master's degree at Binghamton University and went on to teach political science at State University of New York at Oswego, eventually becoming that university's provost and vice president of academic affairs. "My focus always has been on trying to serve the underserved and trying to increase access to higher education. That has never left me," she said.
As a wife and mother of four grown children, Clemo became the college's first lay president. Her goal is to provide more opportunity for youth on the west side of Buffalo to attend D'Youville College. "We have a high school right on our campus and we work closely with them to give them an early college experience," she explained.
Clemo recently signed an agreement with Houghton College, where low-income students will get their associate degrees free of charge and then transfer into D'Youville College to attain their bachelor's or master's degrees. Clemo added, "We felt the match of our missions would be important for our students in transitioning them from Houghton to D'Youville."
D'Youville has also signed an academic articulation agreement with Daemen College. After students complete three years in Daemen's public health program, they will be able to transfer to D'Youville and complete a degree in public health and also a degree in 'Pharmacy D'. "The quality of students that Daemen is bringing into the program is a good fit for us," said Clemo. "I envision that we are really going to open up the college not only to students from the West Side, but also for our students engaging with the community."
Clemo started a partnership with a physician on Niagara Street where students will be serving the local population in a clinic. More students are working with Jericho Road to help with resettlement efforts for local refugees. This fall, the campus will also provide free office space for Karibu News, a newspaper directed toward the interests of local refugees and immigrants.
Clemo will carry on the dedicated work of former president Sister Denise, whom Clemo credits with providing significant help through the transition. "What really struck me from my conversations with her is that this is an invitation to serve and carry on a legacy that started in 1908 and that this is our opportunity to make it better, grow the institution and expand its footprint as an anchor on the west side," said Clemo.
D'Youville College was founded by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in 1908. There are currently 3,061 students. In the last academic year, 78 percent of graduates attained degrees in the health professions; nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, dietetics, chiropractic and pharmacy studies.