A Donor’s Gift to Students through Athletics

Daniel P. Nolan sees his $1 million contribution inspiring alumni to mentor talented young people on to great futures.

Daniel P. Nolan, at left, is presented with his Citizen Laureate Award in 2014 by University at Albany Foundation President George Hearst III. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 29, 2019) — It took until his freshman year in college for “the educational light” to switch on” for Daniel P. Nolan, one of America’s leading financial management executives. He sees that light burning now in students at UAlbany, and he aims to sustain and reward its intensity.

The channel through which the 1974 UAlbany business alumnus will feed that light is a $1 million gift to the University athletic program, ironic in that Nolan did not participate in an NCAA or intramural program nor attend many games in his three years here. He was too busy working his way through school with part-time jobs weekday evenings at Macy’s and weekends at Valle’s Steak House on Central Avenue, while living at home in Colonie

“I was a daytripper for my classes at UAlbany” said Nolan. “But I loved the place academically. Along with my later years at Albany Law School, I attribute most of what I’ve accomplished to it.”

And he’s accomplished quite a bit. Nolan was a partner for 28 years at Ayco Company, providing tax, investment and financial planning advice to its highest net worth clients, founded its Special Investment Group and, after Ayco’s sale to Goldman Sachs in 2003, led the effort to integrate Ayco into Goldman Sachs’s Private Wealth Management practice. Since 2008, he is president and CEO of Albany-based Hugh Johnson Advisors, LLC.

Personal Transformation

Nolan said he still can’t explain what transformed a mediocre, disinterested high school student — “I had the long hair, was in a rock band, the whole bit” — into a guy that aced all his courses in his freshman year at Hudson Valley Community College — “with suddenly a voracious appetite to study and learn everything I could.”

Nolan sees that desire to learn and succeed in many of the college students of today, but says that many lack the guidance and support they need for advancement. He believes that, at UAlbany, athletics is the leading gateway to shoring up alumni support for such students.

“The tremendous success of the University’s programs in basketball, lacrosse, soccer and other sports has drawn national attention,” said Nolan. “And that has increased the pride of its alumni all across this country. I’ve heard athletics called ‘the porch of a university’ for alumni, because it’s one of the strongest ways for successful alums to connect to their alma maters. UAlbany alumni possess critically important resources to offer the University’s students.”

3 UAlbany players in action in football, women's soccer and men's basketball

Daniel Nolan says that UAlbany success in such sports as football, women's soccer and men's basketball have captured the attention and pride of alumni across the nation. (Photos courtesy of UAlbany Sports) 

Alumni Make Multiple Contributions

These resources, he said, include grants and other monetary gifts, but go beyond that. “Succesful alumni connect with students by providing networking opportunities, internships and mentoring. Think of the service that could be provided to UAlbany’s business school students, for instance, when we form a corporate consulting group of a couple of dozen alumni who visit and mentor and establish connections with the students.”

Since the source of alumni interest is the overall excellence of Great Dane athletics, Nolan has fittingly made the $1 million gift “unrestricted” in its use by the program.

“Dan has worked tirelessly for many years to help elevate our athletic program within the Capital Region and our alumni base,” said Mark Benson, director of athletics. “His generosity of time and resources allows us to greatly impact program. We will utilize his gift to entice others to invest in Great Dane athletics.”

Champion of Capital Region Higher Education

Nolan, who gave the first generous donation to the 2003 fund that created what is now the University’s Bob Ford Field at Casey Stadium, is chair of the donor-supporting Great Dane Athletic Club. Working through the club with alumni Ersno Eromo and Peter Bulger, he is creating a career-services committee as an avenue for alumni to provide mentoring and networking support to students.

A philanthropist in many areas, Nolan received the University’s Community Laureate in 2014. He began actively supporting higher education in the Capital Region two decades ago, first as a trustee of the College of St. Rose, and became a trustee of Albany Law School in 2011. He served as board chair for both colleges.

“Philanthropists don’t come any smarter, more thoughtful or more gracious than Dan,” said Vice President for Advancement Fardin Sanai. “Coming as it does from one of the most valued members of the Purple Family, his gift is a deeply meaningful statement of confidence in our athletic program and the University as a whole.”

Nolan’s contributions to UAlbany have been numerous, including serving on the athletic board of directors and the executive committee of the This is Our Time campaign, and personally mentoring business students. On Jan. 3, he was the inaugural guest speaker for the new Men's Basketball Speaker Series. He left even more determined to see positive results from his gift.

“I got to meet a group of fine young men, hardworking, well-directed by their coaches and teachers, getting good grades, but with no time to network for their futures,” said Nolan. “That’s where mentoring will make an enormous difference for these kids.

“Imagine if we can get 1,000 alumni reconnecting strongly to the University — what an amazing benefit to the students that will be.”

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.