Opening Remarks

Opening Remarks

This past year, I undertook a listening tour, seeking to meet with anyone possessing an opinion about Niagara University. I met with alumni, students, faculty, support staff, administrators, maintenance and food service workers. I asked them to tell me what they loved (and didn’t love) about Niagara University, and what they would like to tell the new president.

A pervasive theme throughout these conversations was that Niagara truly is an academic community, with immensely gifted faculty scholars, teachers and servants. This is a campus where 94 percent of our professors have earned the highest degree in their field, from institutions like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Notre Dame, and Cornell.

In my year or so as president, I can personally attest to the excellence of Niagara University’s professors. My travels have taken me to the greatest universities in the world, with opportunities to witness the immensity of the gifts of faculty around the globe. I wholeheartedly believe that Niagara University’s faculty are second to none in interweaving teaching, scholarship and service. Furthermore, our professors teach and research — one informs the other and adds to the richness of a Niagara education.

Students and, especially, alumni spoke fondly about how our faculty engaged them in the contemplation of truth and beauty, and taught them how to think critically. At the same time, you learned to value the dignity of the human person above all else. This is our faculty dedicated to the liberal arts education that elevates and frees the human person, while preparing students for professional life after Niagara.

That’s why our full-time students graduate in four years at a higher rate than any other public or private institution in the Buffalo-Niagara region. Ninety-seven percent are employed or enrolled in graduate school within one year of receiving their diploma. We will continue to foster an academic environment that is, at its core, seeded in the liberal arts, preparing graduates for a globalized workplace and the interface of cultures or, in the words of Father John Lynch, C.M., to be citizens of the world.

Many spoke of Niagara’s caring community, sown with deep pride in our Catholic and Vincentian mission. You’ve told me that this is a special place where community members care deeply for each other, calling forth the best in everyone. We continually seek to become a living-learning community. In response to the call of St. Francis, we endeavor to utilize our abilities to combat the globalization of indifference to human suffering.

During my inaugural address, titled “The Miracle of Niagara University: Action Is Our Entire Task,” I spoke of how this legacy would inform our future as a Catholic and Vincentian institution known for academic excellence and embracing the eternal mission of St. Vincent de Paul.

I told you that we will build on the work of this community by establishing a bridge to the world of the poor.

I said that we will employ the treasures of teaching, research and service to assist those in need, inviting them to be part of our community and enhancing our lives.

In the spirit of St. Vincent, we will bring the balm of compassion to the suffering and misery in our community.

I promised you on April 4 that we would do that, and I reaffirm that promise today.

We will tell the story of the miracle of Niagara University, a wonderfully caring community, where individualized attention is prioritized, and where the excellence of our academics and comprehensiveness of our service advance an esteemed legacy.

This is the Niagara University you have told me about, and this is the Niagara University that will inspire my best efforts as its 26th president.

Should you have any thoughts on how to advance the wonderful legacy of Niagara University, I am always willing to listen. Please feel free to contact me at president@niagara.edu.

Thank you for your support of Niagara University.