Thanks to the generosity of an East Aurora couple, students in the art conservation graduate program at SUNY Buffalo State will have access to fellowships allowing them to pursue their passion without concern over how to pay the bills.
The $4 million gift was made by the Richard E. and Patricia H. Garman family. Richard Garman is the former president and CEO of Buffalo Crushed Stone and ABC Paving Co. Patricia Garman taught psychiatric nursing at D’Youville and operated a private practice. She died in 2014. Both were well known in the community through their professions, volunteerism and giving spirit.
Patrick Ravines, director of the Art Conservation Department, said the fellowships will help attract talented individuals from across the country.
The department is an academic and community gem, something the Garmans well understood. They have been longtime supporters of the program, one of only four in the country. Patricia Garman, as her daughter Melissa Garman Baumgart said, met the professors and students who engage in the precise task of stabilizing and restoring paintings, sculptures, paper and other objects. That relationship deepened by chance several years ago when an 18-inch-tall terra cotta horse the Garmans shipped from Florida arrived with two legs broken.
Mrs. Garman knew who to contact to restore the terra cotta horse and, as her daughter told the story, students and professors did the repair work “flawlessly. As a bonus, they researched and provided details of the statue, created during the Tang Dynasty in China from 618 to 907.
The college will extend permanent recognition to the couple by renaming the department the Patricia and Richard Garman Art Conservation Department, once the State University of New York board of trustees and the Buffalo State College Council approve.
The Garmans have made significant donations to the University at Buffalo and numerous community organizations, some of which Mrs. Garman helped found. The couple’s devotion to the Western New York community is embodied in this gift, the biggest single donation to Buffalo State.