Opening Remarks

Opening Remarks

On April 10, I had the great pleasure of announcing that the promise we made to our students and community in 2007 had not only been fulfilled, but exceeded. We are grateful to everyone who made gifts to the Promise of Niagara, a record-breaking capital campaign that has allowed us to transform our campus, both physically and programmatically. I have already begun traveling across the country to thank and celebrate with our thousands of supporters.

Throughout the pages of this magazine, you will learn much more about the details of this historic effort and the impact it will have on generations of Niagara students.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe that five-plus years have passed since we launched the public phase of the campaign. I recall the earliest days being filled with visits to alumni and friends across the country. Continuous travel is tiring, but the enthusiasm, interest and generosity that I received from Niagarans at every stop made the effort extremely rewarding. I found it exhilarating to converse with alumni about all that we wanted to accomplish at Niagara, and how it correlated with our Catholic and Vincentian mission.

Those from the staff who helped me were amazing. They possessed the stamina, determination and expertise needed to accomplish this monumental feat. I always thanked them, but probably never enough. Here’s hoping that they understand how grateful I am — how grateful Niagara University is — for the extraordinary work they’ve done during this campaign.

There are, of course, several humorous stories that resulted from our journeys. As a matter of fact, the only time I ever really questioned if I would see the campaign’s successful completion came while traveling to Naples, Fla. – by way of Alligator Alley.

Don Bielecki and I were en route to visit an alumnus when our car’s low fuel light illuminated. Don took it in stride initially, although his nervousness seemed to increase as the gas gauge plunged closer and closer to “E.”

When we stopped to try to buy gas from someone pulled off to the side of the road, we discovered that we were less than a mile from a filling station. We just barely made it there, our arrival announced by the car’s obnoxious warning buzzer. What a relief for Don, although I’ve never allowed him to forget the story. And from that time on, we always started our journeys with a full tank of gas!

Others who accompanied me to various alumni cities would have difficulties finding the best directions to our destination. The U-turns we made were many, but they made us laugh ... most of the time! I truly enjoyed the opportunities we had to know each other better.

The most important part of this story, from my point of view, is that we were accomplishing our goal. Our alumni and good friends were generous, welcoming and gracious. They were happy to help their alma mater. Everyone gave according to their means, each gift as heartfelt and important as the next. Without those thousands of generous alumni and friends, we could never have achieved what we did.

Our very large leadership gifts served as catalysts, enabling us to construct some wonderful new facilities, which are so necessary for Niagara University at this time. And we will continue building and renovating our campus right into 2013.

A game-changing $10 million gift by Mr. Thomas Golisano, the largest single gift in Niagara’s long history, illustrated his faith in Niagara and the Western New York region. Soon, a state-of-the-art science center bearing his name will become a fixture on the south end of our campus.We are most grateful to God for being with us and allowing us to be successful. I offer my gratitude to our generous donors, alumni and friends, each and every one of you. The Niagara University of tomorrow stands stronger because of the people reading this magazine.

Now that this important story can be placed in our history annals, we must add an epilogue dedicated to all those who will come forward to help us in the future. The story of a great and faithful university is never-ending. It lives on in the minds and hearts and generosity of all its alumni and friends. This allows us to dream, and to begin planning for what lies ahead.

Yes, another campaign story is going to begin in the near future. Until then, I look forward to seeing you in the coming year, and if you have any special ideas or comments, as always, I invite you to get in touch with me at

Again, thank you.

Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M.