Opening Remarks

Opening Remarks

We recently embarked on a yearlong journey to crystallize the narrative that we share with people when we talk about Niagara University. It was a thorough and reflective process, one that involved collaborative input from prospective and current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members.

The exercise ultimately helped us develop a more substantive, nuanced understanding of our identity while effectively finding ways to engage a number of diverse audiences. In what will come as no surprise to the loyal Niagarans reading this message, the strengths of the university were clearly identified in areas related to academics, service, return on investment, global awareness, and our connectedness with neighboring communities.

We were told that there is a significant demand for a well-rounded liberal arts education that’s combined with a relevant and practical focus on professional learning. We were reminded of the impact that our faculty members have on our students — how much they go above and beyond the call of duty to serve as lifelong mentors.

The research highlighted the importance of our Catholic and Vincentian mission, and how it ignites positive change in the lives of our brothers and sisters. Through learning, faith, and service, Niagara graduates see with deeper vision, achieve with greater purpose, and become the change they want to see in the world.

We found, through comprehensive analysis, that there is an almost magnetic attraction that exists between Niagara University and the people who come here to learn, work, and serve. They are initially drawn to NU because of our academic reputation and the beauty of our campus, but soon become captivated by the edifying relationships they form with professors while fulfilling our 160- year tradition of serving those in need.

Fittingly, the five pillars that inform our recomposed brand message align with the set of President’s Vision Commitments, or long-term institutional priorities, that were presented to our campus community last spring. The overlapping of our strategic objectives with how our institution is perceived publicly by those who know us is quite fulfilling. It is now incumbent upon us to build a brand that we will continue to be proud of, to tell the story of Niagara University where it hasn’t yet been heard.

Since I became president, you have told me that our message must reverberate with consistency, enthusiasm, and passion across Western New York and throughout the world. In light of shrinking regional demographics and an ever-evolving educational landscape, this, as we say in our new brand video, is a “defining moment at the Ridge.”

It is high tide for us to challenge ourselves to look beyond the horizon, using lessons from the past to inform our vision for the future. We will educate more people about how we prepare graduates to do well for themselves and others.

We will tell them about graduates like Charlie Starrs, who, like St. Vincent de Paul, has been a prodigious organizer of people for the greater good. Now 90 years young, Charlie has been the glue that has kept the Niagara University Class of 1951 together for decades. We honored Charlie during Alumni Weekend this past October, not only for the immense impact he had as a fundraiser for the Catholic Archdioceses of Detroit and Miami, but also for his yeoman’s work in bringing numerous classmates back to campus to celebrate the 65th anniversary of their graduation. We are hopeful that the 1,100 new alumni we graduated in May will carry with them Charlie’s affinity for alma mater.

We unveiled our powerful new tagline on Sept. 27, 2016, just 11 days before we recognized Charlie and eight other Niagarans for their remarkable work in ministry, education, business, nursing, and military service. They represent a 36,000-strong alumni network, the explorers, innovators, and visionaries who are shining examples of Niagara’s ability to forge reality from vision.

Your living, breathing legacies inspire the promise of tomorrow. You — our dear alumni — are “The Power of Niagara University.”

All of us at NU are very proud of you. Be proud of yourselves, too, and please help us tell your story.

With every good wish,
Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

P.S. If you’re interested in viewing our new brand video, please visit our YouTube channel at