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Class of 2024 Set to Receive Degrees at Villa Maria College’s 59th Commencement Ceremony; Jonathan Dandes, Corporate Vice President of Rich Products, will address the Class of 2024

By May 6, 2024May 8th, 2024Press Release

Villa Maria College will honor its Class of 2024 at Commencement on Saturday, May 18, 2024, at 11 AM. This year’s ceremony will be held in-person in the College’s auditorium, where graduates will receive degrees in business, fine arts, applied science, and more.

“Commencement is the pinnacle of each academic year,” said Dr. Matthew Giordano, Villa Maria’s president. “The College community comes together as a whole in recognition of the dedication and sacrifice it took each graduate to get to this point. It is inspiring to stand on stage in the auditorium, to look out on the seats filled with graduates and their proud families, to shake graduates’ hands and give them hugs, and to celebrate everything that is to come for each of them.”

In keeping with one of the College’s longstanding Commencement traditions, two awards will be given out during the ceremony. The Blessed Mary Angela Student Award is given to the most outstanding graduate and the Martin A. Wanamaker Spirit Award is given to the graduate who has distinguished themselves in promoting spirit on campus. The student award winners have been named and will be announced publicly following the ceremony.

This year, Jonathan Dandes, Corporate Vice President of Rich Products, will address the Class of 2024. A native of Queens, Mr. Dandes is a Buffalonian by choice. He has accumulated a long history of service to Western New York and is a a transformative leader in the community. Before moving into his current role at Rich’s, Mr. Dandes was the President of Rich Baseball Operations, which included the management of Canalside Buffalo and the Outer Harbor Management Group.

Additionally, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ralph C. Wilson Explore and More Children’s Museum and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Mr. Dandes is also the Vice Chairman of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, having previously served two terms as Chair.

Mr. Dandes has served on numerous boards, including Upstate New York Transplant Services, Visit Buffalo Niagara, Erie County Medical Center, GoBike Buffalo, the Miracle League, Community Action Organization, Artpark & Co., the 100 Club of Buffalo, the National Kidney Foundation and more. He served as the president of the New York State Restaurant Association, was a member of La Chaine des Rotisseurs, Les Amis du Vin, the National Association of Concessionaires and the Stadium Managers Association.

As a member of the 5/14 Memorial Commission, Mr. Dandes aided in the creation of a memorial that honors the lives lost and the lives impacted by the racially motivated mass shooting that took place at the Jefferson Avenue Tops Friendly Markets. Further, Mr. Dandes is the longest serving member of the UB Council, University at Buffalo Council, having been appointed by then-Governor Mario Cuomo in 1994.

Most relevantly, Mr. Dandes is a member of the President’s Advisory Council at Villa Maria College. Comprised of a diverse range of business and community leaders, the PAC advises President Giordano on employer needs, informs Villa’s academic and workforce development offerings, and assists Villa in creating and strengthening pipelines for local talent.

Throughout his career, Mr. Dandes has earned a slew of awards. These include ECMC Chairman’s Award, Buffalo News’ Citizen of the Year, Niagara University Caritas Medal, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Hero of Hope Award, UB’s Outstanding Service Medal, the Nichols School Cornerstone Award, and more.

Mr. Dandes is a graduate of UB’s School of Management and the Harvard Business School Management Development Program. During Villa Maria’s Commencement ceremony, he will receive an honorary doctorate degree.

The College’s traditional liturgy and hooding ceremony will precede the exercises. These services will begin at 9 AM in the Villa Maria Convent Chapel, located at 600 Doat Street.

For more information on Commencement 2024, visit