ALLEGANY, N.Y. – Although he was the guest of honor at a dinner reception in tribute to his four years of service as chairman of the Board of Trustees of St. Bonaventure University, Robert Daugherty was planning to deflect the attention and instead use the event as an opportunity to recognize and thank his colleagues and friends, many in attendance, who had helped him in the position from which he was stepping away.
But Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, had other plans at the Sept. 13 event in Francis Hall on the SBU campus, where he surprised Daugherty and his wife Nancy with an honor – presenting both with the HNP Francis Medal, the Province’s recognition of individuals who embody the values and ideals of St. Francis of Assisi in their personal and professional life.
“The Francis Medal acknowledges Bob and Nancy’s life of service to St. Bonaventure University and the greater community,” Kevin said. “They have modeled their lives on Franciscan values that they were introduced to decades ago while attending St. Bonaventure – the very values that this medal represents.”
“Bob and Nancy have passed these values onto their children, family, friends, community and everyone whom they encounter,” he added. “ They have given so much back in service not only to SBU, but also to where they have lived and worked.”
Kevin also lauded Daugherty for his “great collaborative leadership” as chairman of the SBU board, a position he relinquished this month. “He was always inclusive of all voices in the St. Bonaventure community, always taking the time to listen and consult before he moved ahead with action. Bob exemplified the servant leadership model in true Franciscan fashion,” the Provincial said.
Friendly Sports Rivalry
That Kevin nominated him and his wife for the Francis Medal and made the presentation was especially meaningful to Daugherty.
“Father Kevin’s experience, advice, counsel, and friendship were enormously important and immensely helpful during my tenure as chairman. He understands and lives Franciscan values, so to be nominated by him was a real honor,” said Daugherty, who took in stride Kevin’s playful chiding at the event – telling the packed room that it took a Siena College graduate and diehard Mets and Jets fan to bestow this honor on an SBU graduate and rabid fan of the Yankees and football Giants. “Kevin joked that we couldn’t be more juxtaposed.
“It was the highlight of the evening – and to receive the Francis Medal with Nancy made it even more special,” added Daugherty, who graduated from SBU in 1977 with a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting.
Daugherty didn’t miss the opportunity at the event – which was filled with friars from SBU and Mt. Irenaeus, as well as members of the University’s administration, faculty, and staff – to express his gratitude to everyone who journeyed with him during his four years as chairman.
“The support of board colleagues, faculty and students was nothing short of spectacular. You don’t get things done without a supportive community. As a result, St. Bonaventure University has great momentum at a time when many small private institutions can’t say that,” said Daugherty, who singled out many by name – among them Dan Collins, the board’s departing vice-chairman, and SBU’s president Dennis DePerro.
Francis as Moral Compass
Daugherty, a native of the small town of Sidney in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains in Upstate New York, shared what the Francis Medal means to him and his wife.
“Nancy and I have always been conscious of our mission of service work and the importance of giving back as much as we can. It is a moral compass guided by the ways of St. Francis that started with our education at St. Bonaventure and living among the friars in the world of Francis and St. Clare,” said Daugherty, who, along with his wife, has accompanied SBU students on service trips to places including Belize and Grand Bahama Island.
“Getting the Francis Medal is the apex of having shaped our lives in accordance with Franciscan values and tradition,” added Daugherty, who has maintained a close connection to Holy Name Province by participating in ministries – such as the Francis Breadline at 31st Street in New York City, and Mt. Irenaeus, the Franciscan retreat community in West Clarksville, N.Y., founded by another SBU alumnus, Dan Riley, OFM, who officiated at one of the Daugherty children’s nuptials.
”The simplicity of the life led by Francis, his service to others and the dignity of all human life really stand out for Nancy – and these are the values after which she has modeled her own life. Even battling breast cancer, she puts everyone else first and never stops giving to others. The Francis Medal really belongs with her,” Daugherty said of his wife, a 1979 SBU graduate originally from the small town of Geneseo in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, who is especially devoted to working with New Jersey children and families in need.
“When I think of my wife and our three children, my career and the great opportunities along the way – and four years as chairman of the board at SBU – to have all of this encapsulated by the Francis Medal, which in the eyes of Holy Name Province recognizes that I have led a life modeled after Francis, is a great honor and privilege,” said Daugherty, whose son is a 2009 SBU graduate.
“I have had a lot of great successes in my career, but [receiving the Francis Medal] and being part of this wonderfully powerful experience as chair of St. Bonaventure is definitely in the highlight reel,” he said.
Pilgrimage Alive with Franciscan Heritage
The Franciscan influence became even more vivid for the Chatham, New Jersey, the couple during a summer 2017 pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome (which they took with DePerro and his wife). “Franciscan tradition and heritage really came alive for us when we walked, as far as we could, the actual [roads] that Francis traveled. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that brought us even closer to Francis and the Franciscan charism,” said Daugherty, whose own nuptials (and those of another daughter) were officiated by John O’Connor, OFM, former Provincial Minister and now pastor of St Francis of Assisi Parish in northern Virginia.
Daugherty’s service on the SBU Board of Trustees, which began in 2007, included a stint as vice chairman before his appointment as chairman in 2015. In his four-year tenure as chair, during which SBU experienced an increase in enrollment, Daugherty led the institution on a presidential search (which resulted in the appointment of DePerro), helped advance the current capital campaign, spearheaded the development of the school of health professions, and opened a new business school building in 2013.
After graduating from SBU in 1977, Daugherty began a 33-year career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the firm’s Syracuse, N.Y., office. He was promoted to leadership positions that relocated him to Pennsylvania, and in 1993 he was admitted to the PwC partnership. The balance of the decade through his retirement in 2010 saw Daugherty hold several executive positions in human resources, during which time PwC received many prestigious awards and recognition. One of his most cherished roles was overseeing a recruitment program in which PricewaterhouseCoopers hired more than 5,000 full-time and interim candidates annually from 200 universities around the country.
The HNP Francis Medal, established more than two decades ago by then-Provincial Minister John Felice, OFM, has been presented by friars at Province parishes and ministry sites throughout the world. Recent recipients include Michael Sciarra, the grand knight of the Knights of Columbus Council #943 and long-time parishioner of St. Anthony Parish in Butler, New Jersey, and Sr. Araceli Revuelta Arias, OP, who received the Francis Medal from Ignatius Harding, OFM, and Thomas Kornacki, OFM, in La Paz for her six decades of mission service alongside Franciscan friars in Bolivia.
— Stephen Mangione is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.
- “St. Bonaventure University Inaugurates New President” – Nov. 7, 2017, HNP Today
- “Siena, St. Bonaventure Graduates Encouraged to Follow Spirit of St. Francis” – May 24, 2017, HNP Today