St. John Fisher College alumnus and board member Victor Salerno created a legacy of giving at the institution. In recognition of his service, Salerno received the Robert L. Payton Award for voluntary service from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
The award recognizes an individual who demonstrates leadership in advancement programs, furtherance of the philanthropic tradition, and public articulation of needs, goals and issues in education. CASE, a nonprofit dedicated to educational advancement, named the award after Robert Payton, the first full-time professor of philanthropic studies in the nation.
“Vic is among one of the college’s most loyal alumni, providing constant support and commitment to our mission for more than five decades,” President Gerard Rooney said. “As a donor, his generosity sets the bar high and as a volunteer, he is often seen on campus meeting with students, sharing his knowledge and best advice to help lead them to lives of purpose. His impact is significant and felt collegewide.”
Salerno, CEO of O’Connell Electric Co., enrolled in the accounting program and graduated in 1966.
“Fisher, as it turns out, was for sure my best choice,” he said. “Without the success of the accounting program and all that followed, we would not be in the position we are, where we can pay it forward to the college.”
The Victor E. Salerno Center for American Enterprise, home to the School of Business, resulted from a $2 million gift made by Salerno and his wife, Eileen, during the Vision 2020 campaign. To date, it is the largest gift ever made to the college by one of its graduates.
“When we are out at events, we will often meet young people who graduated from the school and they will thank us or mention what a wonderful building it is. That gives us a nice feeling,” said Salerno, who then established the Victor E. Salerno Sr. Endowed Scholarship.
In September 2019, Salerno was named chair of Fisher Forward. His roles include engaging prospective campaign committee members, weighing in on priorities and participating in leadership gift solicitations.
“I like to say that St. John Fisher College is the bright light on the hill,” he said. “It does so much good for the community. We have alumni in influential roles in every industry around the region and country. It has been an honor to help the college expand its sphere of influence over the past decades.”