It was 50 years ago that Raymond C. Dee’s father gave him the $10 application fee to apply to St. Bonaventure. Looking back over his successful career in the aluminum industry, the application fee was well worth his investment.
Today, the 1964 economics graduate and his wife, Maureen, of Naples, Fla., have made another investment in the University with the creation of The Dee Family Endowment for the School of Business.
The $450,000 endowment will benefit the University in perpetuity, providing funding to the School of Business faculty for curriculum development, research for new approaches and best practices, up-to-date technical equipment, and service learning programs.
“We are grateful to the Dee family for their profound generosity,” said Dr. John Watson, dean of the School of Business. “They care deeply about business and Bonaventure, and have illustrated their belief in the School of Business with this leadership gift.”
Business majors compose 30 percent of the University’s student body, Watson said, adding that the endowment will help provide the resources to educate each student to meet the challenges of a dynamic global business environment.
“The School of Business is critical to the success of the University. John Watson and I want to see St. Bonaventure take a position, particularly in this kind of economic environment, and give our students the tools to prepare them to be successful and ethical in business,” Dee said.
During Dee’s undergraduate years, it was friars such as Fr. Fidelis O’Rourke, O.F.M., and laymen mentors such as Professor Austin Finan who challenged him with their business knowledge and encouraged him in the tradition of St. Francis.
Dee, a University trustee since 2000, has served as a Visiting Lecturer in the School of Business and traveled to China with professor Don Swanz’s graduate students. He’s thrilled to watch the enthusiasm of faculty members inspire their students. Their passion is often noticed far beyond the walls of the Murphy Building, Dee points out, such as with the Students in Free Enterprise chapter, which attracts students from all disciplines.
“It gives you a sense of optimism, when you get to know these students. They are engaging and they’re going to be successful,” said Dee.
It was Dee’s optimism for Bona’s that convinced him to serve as a co-chair of the successful Anniversary Campaign for St. Bonaventure and put him ahead of the curve when it came to making a financial commitment to the School of Business Campaign, which is still in the silent phase.
St. Bonaventure plans to open a new $10 million business center that will feature a financial services lab; a corporate boardroom simulator; high-tech classrooms; and breakaway areas for student collaboration and team building.
In an educational environment that’s competitive in terms of a university’s physical plant and technology offerings, Dee says St. Bonaventure’s commitment to a new School of Business is a commitment to its future students and the United States’ future workforce.
“My view is we need to get people to get involved in manufacturing, involved in startups. We can continue to have successful manufacturing businesses in the U.S., but we need bright, young, risk-taking people to do that,” said Dee.
Of Ray and Maureen Dee’s six children, three daughters — Maureen, ’88, Denise, ’89, and Mary Beth, ’94 — have graduated from St. Bonaventure. All of the Dee’s children, though, celebrate a legacy of philanthropy and are active in the Raymond C. and Maureen K. Dee Foundation.
“They’re all involved. We try to meet at least once a year,” Dee said, noting that philanthropy is an important part of his family’s lives.
He also recognizes the challenges facing recent graduates and alums in career transitions. He encourages all alumni who want to make an impact at St. Bonaventure to be involved with their alma mater.
“I think staying connected, trying to help other alums as they graduate is a great resource,” Dee said. “One of the things we’ve found in the Development Committee, is we have a good record of people starting out giving a minimal amount. Then, as the years go on and you find yourself in a better financial situation with an increased capacity, you increase your gift.”
Dee serves as Chairman of the Board of Service Center Metals and also serves on the board of Alexin, LLC. He served as EVP of Cressona Aluminum Co., a firm he helped found in 1979, until its sale to Alumax in 1996. Dee has served on the SBU President’s Council, National Alumni Board and Capital Campaign Committee, and in the externship program.
In addition to his bachelor’s degree in economics from St. Bonaventure, he holds an MBA from Loyola University, Chicago.