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Alfred University bestows honorary degree on Sealing Devices’ founder in special ceremony

Alfred University | 4/22/19

Terry S. Galanis, Jr., left, and Terry S. Galanis, Sr., right
Terry S. Galanis, Jr., left, and Terry S. Galanis, Sr., right

Alfred University took a road trip Monday to present an honorary Doctor of Science degree to Terry S. Galanis, Sr.,  a 1940 alumnus of Alfred University with a degree in ceramic engineering, and founder of the Lancaster-based Sealing Devices, Inc.


Alfred University took a road trip Monday to present an honorary Doctor of Science degree to Terry S. Galanis, Sr.,  a 1940 alumnus of Alfred University with a degree in ceramic engineering, and founder of the Lancaster-based Sealing Devices, Inc.

            A sprightly 101-year-old Galanis, wearing the traditional purple and gold commencement gown for Alfred University doctoral candidates, said he was “overwhelmed” by the honor, and by the fact that Alfred University brought the degree ceremony to him. Alfred University typically awards its honorary degrees at its annual commencement.

            In the room were “people I never expected to see” gathered together, said Galanis – family, friends, Sealing Device employees and numerous faculty, staff and students from Alfred University.  “I really don’t know what to say,” said Galanis, tapping his chest. “It’s all in here.”

            Alfred University President Mark Zupan said Galanis, whose father immigrated to the U.S. from Greece and whose mother came from Poland, shows “the power of dreams, the power of what America offers.” A family friend, who also came from Greece, suggested Galanis attend Alfred University, making him a believer in the “power of education.”

            After working in sales for a number of years, Galanis invested $157 in founding a new company that he began in his garage, enlisting his children to fill small plastic bags with O-rings. Eventually that company grew into a multi-million-dollar-a-year enterprise that currently employs about 400 people, demonstrating, Zupan said, “the power of hard work” and the “power of family.”

            As his business succeeded, Galanis learned the “power of giving back,” as he and his family became “generous donors to Alfred University,” supporting the College of Business and the athletics department with their gifts.

            Most recently, Terry S. Galanis, Sr., made a $1 million gift in honor of his 101st birthday, telling President Zupan to “do something nice” for Alfred University’s employees.  Part of his gift was used to provide one-time compensation payments to all full-time and part-time, regular, non-bargaining-unit employees hired before July 1, 2018.   The remainder is earmarked for support of the College of Business and athletics.

            “A great man and a great family,” said Greg Connors, chairman of the Alfred University Board of Trustees, in referring to Terry S. Galanis, Sr., and his family. Terry, Sr., was “able to overcome adversity,” launching a “fulfilling and successful career,” that both sets him apart, and makes him representative of so many other Alfred University alumni.

            Terry S. Galanis, Jr., now president of Sealing Devices and a member of the Alfred University Board of Trustees for the past 20 years, said it was “important to my father and to our family to give something back for all that we have received” from our involvement with Alfred University.”

            In a surprise presentation, Mark Lewis, dean of the College of Business, named Terry S. Galanis, Sr., as its first recipient of the College of Business Alumni Partner award for his support of programs in entrepreneurship, family business and business education. The Galanis family and Sealing Devices received the Family Business Award from the College of Business in 1999 and for the next 15 years, sponsored the annual awards, with Terry S. Galanis, Sr., making a point to visit in person as many of the finalist companies as he could in person.