From Love Story to Legacy

Russ Agrusa, BS ’76, is a longtime donor to UB.

Russ Agrusa, BS ’76, is a longtime donor to the university. Photo by Douglas Levere

Russ Agrusa, BS ’76, founder and retired CEO of ICONICS, Inc., is a longtime donor to UB who recently made a significant investment that resulted in not only a re­cord-breaking fundraising year for UB, but also in UB surpassing the $1 billion Boldly Buffalo campaign goal with one year to go. Agrusa’s generous gift of $40 million was designated to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. A portion of the gift will allow the school to break ground on a state-of-the-art building that will bear his name with the balance providing long-term support for engineering and computer science education.

My hope for this project is to change lives ... We’re purposely creating an environment where students from all disciplines can collaborate. Something this large needs to be a hub that will bring people together.

- Russ Agrusa, BS ’76, founder and retired CEO of ICONICS, Inc.

An Alumni Love Story

Agrusa and his late wife, Paula, previously made gifts in support of several UB projects, including a student innovation competition in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering; the Agrusa Auditorium in Davis Hall; and Russ also supported the construction of Paula’s Plaza, an exterior space beside the Jacobs Management Center honoring Paula, a 1978 School of Management alumna.

The couple met at UB in a residence hall on South Campus while doing laundry. He offered to cook her an Italian meal and he found “the best way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach.” They married in 1978 and together grew ICONICS, their world-leading automation software company, into an international success.

Leaving a Legacy

In addition to his work with ICONICS, Agrusa served on the board for the school’s dean’s advisory council and received the school’s highest honor, the Dean’s Award for Achievement for his substantial contributions to the practice of engineering and applied sciences and for an exceptional professional career.

When reflecting on his legacy, Agrusa knew he wanted to nurture the next generation of students. Harkening on his own journey of discovery and leadership, Agrusa was excited by the idea of providing a physical place for students to take risks and collaborate across the many different disciplines within the school and across UB.

The new building will be uniquely student-focused, housing the many engineering and computer science-based student organizations and clubs. Equipped with the latest technology for hands-on learning, the new building will also serve as a meeting point for student activities alongside learning and enrichment.

“Everything about the new building will be designed to enhance the student experience,” said Dean Kemper Lewis. “It will be a central gathering point where all students are welcomed and sup­ported in a space that encourages them to pursue their intellectual curiosity and tackle the grand challenges that we, as a society, face.”

Published October 13, 2023