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Villa Maria College Breaks Ground on Capital Improvement Project Made Possible by Russell J. Salvatore

Through Largest Single Gift in College History, $1 Million Dining Hall Redevelopment Underway

BUFFALO, NY – Today, Villa Maria College broke ground on a significant capital improvement project to renovate its 61-year-old dining hall. Made possible by a major donation from local restauranteur, civic leader and philanthropist, Russell J. Salvatore, the $1 million renovation project is scheduled to be completed ahead of the Fall 2022 semester. The new space will be called The Russell J. Salvatore Commons. 

“Mr. Salvatore’s gift is the single largest in the College’s history. We are grateful for his commitment to Villa Maria and excited for what this improvement will do to our campus community,” said Dr. Matthew Giordano, president, Villa Maria College. “The dining hall has been the heart of Villa Maria for six decades and its renovation is long overdue. We collectively thank Mr. Salvatore for making this possible.” 

The current dining hall was designed and built in 1961. It is original to the College and is a central meeting place and the heart of the College. The impact of Mr. Salvatore’s contribution will be felt beyond physical updates, it will provide a modern and innovative space for students.  

“I love giving. I’m thrilled to be able to make such an impact at Villa Maria, an institution central to the fabric of Western New York,” said Russell J. Salvatore. “I’ve always said that when I die, I hope to have nothing left, to have given it all away. Nothing makes me happier than enabling impactful projects in our community. I’m proud to support Villa Maria.”  

The Russell J. Salvatore Commons was designed to be warm and welcoming for all students, faculty, and staff. It will offer over 10,000 square feet of space to eat, study, and gather socially. Highlights of the Commons include: 

  • Study booths that allow students to focus on their coursework in a shared space 
  • Video game area where students can unwind by plugging in console gaming, laptops, or watch TV 
  • Recreational area with ping pong and pool that allows students to bond and encourages camaraderie 
  • A variety of seating styles and options for small and large groups, including couches, lounge chairs, ottomans, and more 
  • Special attention was given to the room’s acoustics to accommodate all types of student projects and events 
  • Foliage that creates a calm, serene, and beautiful environment and helps people to stay focused, productive, and energized 
  • Large, state-of-the art message board to share important campus information and publicize upcoming events 
  • The addition of the Spirit Shop, where College apparel and basic supplies can be purchased conveniently 

For more information about Villa Maria College’s dining hall renovation, please visit