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Buffalo State receives $4M donation from East Aurora family

Buffalo State College

Buffalo State College has received a $4 million gift from the Richard and Patricia Garman family of East Aurora to support the college’s Art Conservation Department. The family’s gift marks the largest one-time gift to the college and will result in continuous support for students who enter this competitive graduate program, one of only four such art conservation programs in the country.

“The gift will allow us to offer fellowships to the most talented individuals across the country interested in pursuing art conservation careers," said Patrick Ravines, Director of Art Conservation. "It also will enable us to provide exceptional faculty and outstanding learning opportunities for our students. We are extremely grateful to the Garmans.”

Richard Garman is the former president and CEO of Buffalo Crushed Stone and ABC Paving Company. In the past, he served as Chairman of the Board for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and President of the Associated General Contractors of New York State.

Patricia Garman passed away in 2014, taught psychiatric nursing at D’Youville College and operated a private practice. She also was recognized as a leader by many cultural and community organizations. The couple has three grown daughters who live in East Aurora.

“The Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College is one of the most advanced and professional in the country,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher.

The college will rename the department the Patricia and Richard Garman Art Conservation Department, pending official approval by the SUNY Board of Trustees and the Buffalo State College Council.

Patricia Garman first became acquainted with the art conservation program several years ago when she was invited to meet the professors and students in the disciplines of painting, sculpture, paper and objects and see a demonstration of their work.

Since that introduction, she and her husband brought two pieces of art from their personal collection to the department for conservation treatment. One piece was a sculpture of a horse the family had shipped from Florida to Buffalo that arrived with broken legs.

“Obviously, my mom was devastated,” said daughter Melissa Garman Baumgart. “They reached out to the Art Conservation Department to see what they could do. Not only did the students repair it, but they gave us the whole history of the sculpture. You would never know by looking at it today that it ever had been damaged.”

Their interaction with the department inspired the couple to establish a student fellowship and this led to an ongoing relationship with the department.

“What made the biggest impression on all of us is that we have this incredible hidden gem right in our backyard,” Baumgart said. “To me, it’s the best kept secret in Western New York.”

The Garman gift completes a challenge grant established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In summer 2014, the foundation awarded the art conservation program with a $1.25 million challenge grant, which required the college to raise an additional $750,000 by June 2017.