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    The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, Niagara University president, was presented with a Service Award in December from the Turkish Cultural Center at Buffalo and the Peace Islands Institute in recognition of exemplary services and contribution to the service learning education in fighting poverty.

    The Turkish Cultural Center and the Peace Islands Institute co-organized its Fourth Annual Friendship Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Nov. 26, which brought academics, elected officials and other community leaders together to promote diversity, peace and mutual understanding through dialogue. Father Levesque was unable to attend this year’s event, prompting his receipt of the award on Dec. 7.

    According to its website, in line with the spirit and passion of the Turkish-American community, the Turkish Cultural Center is dedicated to fostering national and global peace, harmony and security through promotion of education, intercultural understanding, democracy and respect for human rights and dignity. The Turkish Cultural Center hopes for a more secure and peaceful world, where people of different cultures, religions, races and creeds embrace one another without any prejudices.

    The Turkish Cultural Center at Buffalo was founded in December 2005 by the Turkish-American community in Buffalo to increase awareness of Turkish culture, music, literature and arts in the society; to build strong bridges between Turkish and American peoples based on respect, understanding and tolerance; and to help Turkish immigrants and refugees adapt to the life in Buffalo and America.

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    In profiling Dr. Kalen Churcher for a March 2012 publication highlighting the “20 most intriguing professor on campus,” communication studies student Tiffany Hyman described the fifth-year professor as a rising star. It turns out she’s not the only one who thinks so.

    Dr. Churcher was recently chosen to participate in a pair of summer conferences meant to highlight the achievements of the profession’s brightest young minds.

    Over the summer, she received a Promising Professor Award (second place) from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and was selected for the Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy by Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication.

    Dr. Churcher was recommended for both prestigious awards by Dr. Nancy McGlen, dean of Niagara’s College of Arts and Sciences.

    “Kalen is an outstanding instructor who knows when to guide and when to challenge her students to do their very best,” said Dr. McGlen. “She is also involved in a number of clubs and programs outside of the classroom that make us very proud to call her one of our own.”

    The Promising Professor Award is a national honor given to young faculty and graduate students who demonstrate excellence and innovation in teaching. Dr. Churcher received the award during AEJMC’s national conference in August in Chicago, where she also presented as a member of the Promising Professors and Distinguished Educator Panel.

    A couple months earlier, Dr. Churcher participated in the 2012 Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy, which took place June 3-7, 2012, on LSU’s campus in Baton Rouge. The academy, now in its sixth year, brings up-and-coming mass communication professionals and scholars together with seasoned administrators to share administrative strategies and insights. Several previous participants are now deans at communications schools across the country. Dr. Churcher was chosen in large part due to her work as the coordinator of NU Beginnings, a freshman course that introduces new students to life at Niagara University.

    “I think it’s important for professors to have a visible presence outside of the classroom. Working with the freshman experience course has not only allowed me to do that, but it has afforded me the opportunity to exercise my leadership skills as well,” said Dr. Churcher, an assistant professor of communication studies. “Being chosen for the Promising Professor Award was truly a great honor because I was recognized for doing something I love – working with students. I’m very grateful for the support of Dr. McGlen and my colleagues.”

    Dr. Churcher is a native of Plymouth, Pa. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Wilkes University, a master’s degree in human resources from the University of Scranton, and a Ph.D. in mass communication from Pennsylvania State University.

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    Marek Gawel, an international student from Reutlingen University, Germany, graduated from Niagara University with his MBA in May of 2011. During his time at NU, he completed his thesis with the assistance of Dr. Ann Rensel, assistant professor of management, to fulfill his Reutlingen requirements. He is currently the general manager of the Best Western Premier Bellevue Rheinhotel in Boppard, Germany, which has been owned by his family for five generations.

    On Nov. 16, 2012, at the annual Food Consulting Society International meeting, Gawel was selected as the winner of the FCSI JuniorChampion 2012. His idea is the hybrid-concept of hotel and hostel, the “i-hostel.” It incorporates the vision “individual & green” with a concept that is predominantly, but not solely, based on targeting young customer. Rooms will range from comfortable double rooms to six-bed rooms for young travelers. The comprehensive business plan that Gawel presented – which included an economic feasibility study and possible financing models – not only impressed the jury for the award but also the guests of the FCSI annual meeting 2012 in the Hilton hotel in Frankfurt. Of importance for the future entrepreneur to implement his idea is to be the “First Mover.” Only with this advantage does he assumes his idea to be effective. To be successful, Gawel already registered the trademark “i-hostel.”

    Gawel now has the chance to also present his work at the “European FCSI-Competition Young Persons Competition“ in Warsaw in 2013.

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  • 03/21/13--12:41: Creating Change Through Art
  • Ashley Vita Verde loves to make people smile. The 2011 Niagara University graduate had ample opportunities to do just that this summer, as the organization she co-founded, Deep Roots Niagara, elicited laughs, gasps, and yes, plenty of smiles, from tourists and locals alike on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls.

    Ashley and her business partner, Rachel Macklin Olszewski, ’12, brought a variety of street performers, including jugglers, fire spinners, aerialists, clowns, and dancers, to downtown Niagara Falls to complement the activities sponsored by Old Falls Street USA and the Hard Rock Café during the main tourist season. One of the highlights of the summer was a side show to celebrate Nik Wallenda’s historic tightrope walk over Niagara Falls on June 15. Since then, the two young women have been involved with a number of similar projects in the Western New York area, including organizing a circus for Slyboots School of Art and Music and participating in a “salon series” of Friday night performances for the Alt Theatre in Buffalo. They also plan to develop an afterschool theatre program at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center.

    Deep Roots originated out of an idea Ashley had to open an arts academy and was officially launched in fall 2011, when she and Rachel worked with the Niagara Falls Aquarium to produce a Halloween-themed show for its annual “Halloween Happening” event. That led to a second collaboration with the aquarium: The Spirit of the Sea, an original production created for the aquarium’s “SEAsonings of Niagara”fundraiser. The show featured sea lions, synchronized swimmers, dancers, and marine mammal trainers.

    While many of the performances are intended for children, the topics they tackle are anything but lighthearted. The Spirit of the Sea, for example, was intended as “a commentary on pollution of the sea,” says Rachel. The work they performed for Slyboots told the story of a young man who was in search of eternal life. And the activities they hosted for the Old Falls Street Kids Club encouraged participants to become good community citizens.

    “The idea is to use the art to inspire people to do something different,” says Ashley, who performs in Deep Roots productions. “I’m trying to create works of art that will inspire people to stop using disposable plastics, or littering, or Styrofoam. I’m trying to draw awareness to these things.

    ”Deep Roots’ mission is no less ambitious — it strives to use art to “achieve spectacular things,” incite “positive social change” and inspire an “artistic renaissance,” with the ultimate goal of transforming Niagara Falls into an “international hub of art and creativity.”

    In pursuit of this goal, Ashley and Rachel draw upon the skills they learned in their theatre classes and reach out to Niagara University students and to local performers to get involved with their projects.

    “The thing about this area is that there are so many talented people in search of work, so we really strive to hire local people,” says Rachel. Rachel, who handles Deep Roots’ behind-the-scenes administration in addition to performing, also attended an “Entrepreneur Boot Camp” co-sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts and New York University for a crash course in the skills needed to run a successful art organization.

    This past summer was an “experimental” one, according to the two women, but it served as an ideal launching pad for what they hope will become a community of people who want to revitalize Niagara Falls. They envision planting gardens, painting murals, and even developing an art district. These things, they believe, will give college graduates, particularly those from Niagara University, “a reason to stay,” says Ashley.

    “When we say we want to transform the city,” adds Rachel, “we really mean it.”

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    On Nov. 10, 2012, at the Seneca Niagara Casino Hotel and Event Center, Niagara University celebrated a fundraising milestone and honored two families with longstanding ties to the Buffalo-Niagara region.

    More than 400 Niagara alumni, students, colleagues and friends were present for the ninth annual President’s Scholarship Dinner, where it was announced that the university had surpassed the $1 million mark in net revenue raised for student scholarships since the event was instituted in 2004.

    “That is a remarkable accomplishment and a testament to the generosity of each and every one of you. Thank you,” the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., NU president, told attendees. “These are impressive figures, numbers that we are quite proud of, but we, as a university, must continue to do more. We must do more to offset the rising cost of education. We must do more to help those who have been adversely affected by the economy, leaving them less flexibility to afford a college degree. We must do more because it is part of our heritage – it is what St. Vincent taught us to do.”

    Fittingly, during the event, Niagara presented the St. Vincent de Paul Award to the Castellani family as well as Harold and Rose Brown and their children. The award is conferred upon individuals “whose vision, accomplishments and good works reflect the life and ministry of St. Vincent de Paul.”

    Armand Castellani was the chairman and chief executive officer of Tops Markets, formerly of Niagara Frontier Services Inc. He was twice named an Outstanding Citizen by The Buffalo News, and twice honored by the National Conference of Community Justice. Armand has received numerous other awards for his success in business, community involvement and as a patron of the arts. Armand received the honorary degree of doctor of commercial science from Niagara in 1964, and he and his wife, Eleanor, received the university’s President’s Medal in 1990. Armand is the founder of the Castellani Art Museum, which opened on Niagara’s DeVeaux campus in 1978. The present museum, a 23,000-square-foot facility, opened on the main campus in 1990. Armand and Eleanor’s 11 children have followed in their footsteps, supporting numerous community-minded organizations, including Niagara Hospice, the United Way and Niagara University. In light of their philanthropy, the Castellani children were presented with Niagara University’s Founder’s Award in 2001.

    Harold Brown earned an accounting degree from Niagara in 1948. While he was an undergraduate, he became close with the Vincentian priests and brothers, who allowed him to pay for much of his tuition through the work-study program. Rose, a SUNY Brockport graduate, came from a strong Italian family in Niagara Falls. She taught for years in the Niagara Falls City School District. Six of the couple’s eight children are Niagara University graduates, as are five of their grandchildren. Harold and Rose were active in numerous parent/teacher groups, the Rotary Club, the Health Association of Niagara County, the United Way, the Knights of Columbus, and many others. Their children are also involved in dozens of nonprofits, especially in Niagara County.

    Christopher Ross, a member of Niagara University’s Board of Trustees, and his wife, Mary, served as the dinner’s chair couple. The Rosses received undergraduate degrees from Niagara University in 1982.

    Maryalice Demler, a member of Niagara University’s class of 1986 and anchor at WGRZ-TV Channel 2, was the mistress of ceremonies. Attendees also heard remarks from current student James Tipa and were treated to a rendition of The Impossible Dream by theatre major Alex Garcia.

    The purpose of the President’s Scholarship Dinner is to generate funds for scholarship assistance for qualified Niagara University students. During the 2011-2012 academic year, 98 percent of undergraduate students received scholarship assistance from the university that totaled $35,118,000. During that same period, 361 undergraduates received endowed scholarships totaling $1,059,912.

    Click here to view the gallery of photos from the event.

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    On paper, the mission of Niagara University’s Institute for Civic Engagement is to reinforce the university’s commitment to the region by strengthening existing community partnerships and forming new town-gown relationships. But in practice, the institute’s director, Dr. David Taylor, is envisioning a much greater purpose for the institute. He wants it to be a catalyst to transform higher education, and to perhaps even change the world.

    “One of the long-term visions for the institute is to develop programming and opportunities that are distinctly Niagara,” Dr. Taylor says. “In a Vincentian community and university, we can help nurture an idea someone has to change the world and bring it to fruition. That’s what we should be doing, particularly things designed to help people in need.” He adds that the creation of a social entrepreneurship incubator within the institute might be one way to achieve this.

    While this vision has a decidedly global perspective, the steps needed to bring it about start on the Niagara campus. Dr. Taylor notes student learning must be at the heart of everything the university is doing, and that the institute’s partnerships are being developed with the intention of making experienced-based learning opportunities increasingly available to students. While Niagara has long offered a service-learning component in the classroom, Dr. Taylor says this initiative looks at service learning in a different way.

    “I understand the value of service and its potential to greatly impact students, but we have to remember that students are at a university,” he says. “There needs to be a stronger connection between what the students do in terms of service and the specific learning outcomes associated with course content.”

    This doesn’t mean that he advocates against the traditional service-learning Niagara’s students have been doing for decades. In fact, the institute will assist NU’s Learn and Serve Niagara program in identifying opportunities for creating these kinds of experiences. But Dr. Taylor is hoping that the partnerships he forges also lead to hands-on work that students can detail on a résumé as applicable experience for a job. He references a Niagara computer and information sciences course during which students earn a nationally recognized certificate in forensic computing and says he’d like to help create more of these kinds of learning opportunities.

    “Students, on average, take 30-40 classes here at Niagara,” he says. “Imagine if in every one of those classes they did something that was worthy of being put on a résumé. Imagine what that résumé would look like after 40 classes.”

    With his knowledge of the university’s capabilities and his numerous contacts in the community, Dr. Taylor says he can serve as a matchmaker between university professors who want to add résumé-building practical experiences to their course curriculum and the community organizations tha are looking for assistance. The institute can also be a resource for professors who want to design and conduct research-based projects in the community.

    Dr. Taylor notes that it is becoming increasingly important for students to have an international experience, and that the institute can help create those opportunities as well, whether they are through partnerships with international agencies in the local community or through connections with organizations that have a worldwide presence, like the Vincentians.

    The institute, which officially opened in September, is the formalization of an initiative launched by the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., when he was named president of the university more than 10 years ago. At that time, the Committee to Assist in the Revitalization of Niagara Falls was formed to help build capacity in that city. Numerous community relationships have been built since then, and the institute was established to ensure the continuation of this important work. It will also serve as the home for two of Niagara University’s flagship community-minded programs, Border Community SERVICE and ReNU Niagara.

    Dr. Taylor was the obvious choice for director, due to his experiences prior to coming to Niagara (he lived homeless as part of his dissertation research) and his recent immersion into Vincentian history,spirituality and service as part of the initial cohort of the Vincentian Mission Institute, a program designed to address the distinctive nature of Catholic and Vincentian higher education by developing successive generations of lay leaders to support the unique identities of these universities.

    The VMI experience culminated in a trip to France beginning at the birth place of St. Vincent de Paul and tracing his life throughout the south of France. “It became clear to me that Vincent was an incredible organizer, someone who could inspire his contemporaries to serve the poor and oppressed,” Dr. Taylor says. “But he was also able to refocus his efforts as the needs of the community changed. As Father Robert Maloney, C.M., once wrote aboutVincent, ‘He had the courage and skill to walk where none had walked before.’”

    Inspired by St. Vincent, Dr. Taylor is ready to help Niagara refocus its efforts to prepare for the dramatic transformation in higher education he believes will happen soon. “It will be one unlike anything that those currently working in the field have experienced,” he says. “Thus, it is important for colleges and universities to revisit their mission and purpose and to develop both a short- and long-term strategy to guarantee the highest quality education possible for their students.” He’s confident that the institute can be a valuable asset in this regard.

    To that end, Dr. Taylor’s goals for the immediate future are to build a full slate of partnerships between the community and the university: big and small; formal and informal; with and without academic components. In five years, he’s hoping that this effort leads to a “tremendous increase in very targeted, high-impact, high-quality experiential learning opportunities forstudents.” And long term?

    “The choice of the words ‘civic engagement’ in the name of the institute was intentional,” he says. “So any way that we can better engage everyone in our university community in the civic life of not only our local and regional community, but also at the national level, would be a broad but long-term goal.”

    Given the progress that’s been made so far and the passion Dr. Taylor has for the work, Niagara University’s Institute for Civic Engagement jus tmight change the world after all.

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    St. Vincent de Paul was an educator and an evangelist who dedicated his life in service to the poor. He was also an accomplished fundraiser. It is this aspect of St. Vincent’s charism that five Niagara University alumni are emulating as they work to raise $5 million for the Vincentian Endowment Challenge.

    Last year, Scott Fina, ’80, and Teresa Niedda, ’84, co-assistant directors of the Vincentian Solidarity Office, invited fellow Niagara alumni Joseph Lesenko, ’80, and Patrick Glemser, ’86, to join a committee that also included Father Sy Peterka, C.M., ’72 (who has successfully conducted annual appeals for the Vincentians in Africa over the past several years), and Father Miles Heinen, C.M., VSO executive director. The committee was charged with raising funds toward a $5 million challenge grant that will create patrimony (endowment) funds to support Vincentian vocations and ministries in several provinces and vice-provinces of the Vincentians in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

    “We were looking at alumni in the area who have been part of the Vincentian seminary system from the former St. Joseph’s Seminary in Princeton, N.J.,” explains Teresa. “We were also looking for someone who could reach out to the Catholic business community. Joe and Patrick both fit the bill.”

    The two former seminarians immediately agreed to help. “The numbers of Vincentian priests and brothers have been declining in the United States over the years, but the seminaries of the Vincentians in poorer provinces in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia are overflowing with applicants,” notes Joe. “This project will be key in helping to build an endowment to benefit some of these poorer provinces of the Vincentians."

    The committee is working toward raising the matching funds by the end of 2015 through a variety of events (including a pre-Lenten Mass and dinner that Joe and his wife, Mary, sponsored at their home, and a 50-mile bike ride that Patrick and his wife, Maureen, used to raise both funds and awareness for the cause) and donor outreach efforts. “

    "Through regular meetings and discussions, our group has expanded our way of thinking and our ideas on how to conduct outreach, and we are trying to identify those people who have a connection and know the Vincentian charism,” says Teresa. To that end, the committee members are undertaking a number of endeavors, including developing a brochure and supporting materials that explain the Vincentian Endowment Challenge.

    Joe has been working to build a cadre of ambassadors who will help to support the project. “I have been reaching out to family, friends, relatives, neighbors, and Catholic business professionals who may have a prospective interest in supporting this meaningful work of the Vincentians,” he says.

    And Patrick helped the committee to set up a FirstGiving site so that supporters may make their donations online. “FirstGiving offers tools and expertise to connect with friends and family and make fundraising less overwhelming — and even fun,” he says.

    If successful, the project will support both the continuing efforts of Vincentian priests and brothers who are working with the poor, as well as the formation of Vincentian priests and brothers in these developing countries, where vocations are rapidly growing. Money will also be used in support of the Vincentian Lay Missionaries, the Vincentian Marian Youth, and the Association of the Miraculous Medal.

    “I have been to some of the Vincentian provinces that will benefit from the project: Nigeria, Fortaleza (Brazil),and Hungary, specifically,” says Scott. “I have seen both the need and the promise of the Vincentians in these places. The Vincentian Endowment Challenge is a wonderful opportunity to help firm up the financial future of the Vincentian fathers and brothers in places where they are growing but lack financial resources.”

    “St. Vincent de Paul was excellent at soliciting the help of other people to do what he said he wasn’t capable of doing alone, so that’s what we want to keep alive,” says Father Gregory Gay, ’76, superior general of the Congregation of the Mission, who oversees thousands of Vincentian priests and brothers working in 88 countries around the world. “To do that, we have to be more willing to tell our story, and it’s a good story to tell. I think these five alumni who have formed this committee are doing that. They know the story, they love the story, they want to tell the story, and they want to help support us so the story goes on.”

    Find out more about the Vincentian Endowment Challenge here.

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    Joseph J. Forrester III, a chemistry professor at Niagara University, passed away on Feb. 20, 2013. He was 85.

    Forrester joined Niagara University in 1960 as a faculty member in the chemistry department, where he developed a reputation as a professor with a never-wavering commitment to excellence. During his 44-year tenure at Niagara, he mentored countless students in the classroom and as a member of the Pre-Health Professional Committee. Many of these students went on to establish successful careers as doctors, dentists, and medical professionals in other health-related fields. In 1986, he served as acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and was the director of the NU Honors Program from 1991-1995. He retired in 2004.

    He was honored twice by the College of Arts and Sciences; in 1986, he received its teacher recognition award, and in 2003, he was the recipient of its Excellence in Service Award.

    Off campus, Forrester embodied Niagara’s Vincentian values through his work with The Consortium of the Niagara Frontier, a joint undertaking by Niagara, Canisius and Daemen colleges that offered college-level courses and degrees to prison inmates. Believing that everyone deserved an education, Forrester joined the consortium at its founding in 1975 and spent the next 25 years as a volunteer, challenging his students to reach beyond their current limitations and develop their potential. Many of these former students would visit him in his office in DePaul Hall when they were released to thank him for teaching them. In 1999, he was chosen by the consortium’s students and faculty to receive the Reverend Thomas A. McHugh Distinguished Faculty Award in recognition of his commitment and dedication.

    Forrester also touched hundreds of lives through his support of the American Red Cross, for which he donated more than 15 gallons of blood.

    Marty Troia, former secretary in the chemistry department, remembers Forrester as a “brilliant educator and a wonderfully kind and generous human being” who enjoyed sharing stories about his family. Like many of his former students, Troia credits Forrester with her academic and career success. “He was the person most responsible for me pursuing a college degree. I will forever be grateful to him for his belief in my intellectual ability and inspiring me to go for my dream of a college degree.”

    Dr. Nancy McGlen, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, notes that Forrester set an example that she follows to this day. "Joe Forrester was committed to his students and to Niagara University. He served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences after Father Levesque, and his 'walk around' style to talk to faculty to find out what was happening was a model I have tried to follow as dean."

    Dr. Robert Greene, '75,'77, chair of the biology department, was a student in Forrester's organic chemistry class. “He was a teacher you could rely on and always willing to help students with this difficult subject," he recalls. "Later, I was fortunate enough to have Joe as a colleague and it was in part his collegial approach to his teaching of science that helped to formulate major components of my developing career as a biology professor. His insights into the inter-personal workings of the sciences at Niagara University helped me to achieve success in both my teaching and my research. He will always have a warm fond spot in my heart."

    "Joe’s easy going approach to life was amazing," notes Connie Guthrie Greene, office coordinator in the biochemistry, chemistry, physics and biology departments. "He could take the stress out of a working day with his smile and wit. He always had a joke to brighten your day. He was always very encouraging and supportive; making it a true pleasure to work for him."

    Forrester is survived by his wife, Margaret A. “Peg” Forrester; his children, Raymond Forrester, Dr. Maureen Finney, ’91, and Dr. Joseph Forrester IV, ’92; six grandchildren; his brother, Fredric Forrester; and eleven nieces and nephews.

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    There are four new benches in the circle in front of the Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre on the Niagara University campus. John Overbeck, ’75, donated the benches in honor of Niagara’s president, the Rev. Joseph Levesque, C.M., Brother Martin Schneider, C.M., Dr. Sharon Watkinson, ’66, and in memory of Brother Augustine Towey, C.M., for their dedication to the theatre program and its students. The benches were blessed in a ceremony on April 22.

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    More than 100 Western New York alumni joined the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., Niagara’s president, and the Alumni Engagement team on April 18 for an evening at the Darwin Martin House Complex in Buffalo. The group was given a tour before a reception that included refreshments and entertainment in the Greatbatch Pavilion at the complex.

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    “One of NU's greatest strengths is the relationships that are formed by its people. Our students come and sense that and learn that and develop great relationships of their own, and they learn to care about others and the world at large.

    “When Father came back home to NU in 2000, he helped restore those caring relationships that had been frayed and destroyed –– he listened, and he helped us heal.

    “Father is an incredible listener. He listens so well that you end up saying more than you ever intended!

    “In addition to all the successful and productive strategic administrative work we did throughout Father's presidency, I was very fortunate to be able to work with him on the transformation of our facilities on campus. The common theme was his insistence on excellence, especially in the design of the buildings. Good enough would never work. The architects and designers went back to the drawing board over and over again, on the Academic Complex, on the Vincentian Residence, on the Golisano Center. He wanted these buildings to be showpieces –– unique, but all with commonality and tradition that made them ‘Niagara University.’

    “He was focused on certain details in the buildings, especially details that conveyed our mission and tradition to others. For example, as we were ordering the furnishings for the Academic Complex, Father Levesque walked through the building with me and told me where in each room he wanted to place a crucifix. As we constructed the Golisano Center, Father wanted it to be an important welcoming symbol that people saw as they entered our campus. He added the tower to the building, and in that tower a purple beacon that will shine brightly every night.”

    “But I think Father Levesque's greatest gifts to us at Niagara were the relationships that he formed –– with all of us –– but also with the community. Our success with our $80 million capital campaign came from a lot of hard work by many people, but mostly because of the special connections he could make with our donors. I witnessed the meeting Father had with Mr. Golisano, and watched Mr. Golisano commit $10 million to Father. It was for Niagara, but it was more personal than that. –– he gave the gift because he respected and trusted Father Levesque.

    “I believe that the years of Father Levesque's presidency were some of the finest in Niagara University's history. Thank you to an incredible leader and awesome man!”

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  • 08/28/13--09:07: Mystery Solved!
  • Many thanks to Michael Puglisi, ’52, for letting us know that the student in the photo with Dr. Morton on page 18 of the winter/spring 2013 Eagle was Anthony Federico, ’51, who went on to become a pioneering specialist in pacemaker surgery. During his general andt horacic surgical residencies at Veterans Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., Dr. Federico worked closely with Dr. William Chardack, chief of surgery, on the development of the implantable pacemaker. During the early years of the improvement and refinement of pacemaker technology, he served as a clinical consultant with Medtronic Corp., and later founded Cardio Thoracic Associates of Western NY, becoming one of the region’s leading specialists in open heart surgery. In 2002, Kaleida Health recognized him as a pioneer in cardiac surgery for his work with pacemakers, open heart surgery and open heart surgical recovery techniques.

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  • 08/28/13--09:10: SOLA Reunion
  • On May 22, 2013, seven priests came together to celebrate the history of the Seminary of Our Lady of Angels. The anniversary Mass, which includes a renewal of the men’s commitment to priestly service, has become an annual tradition at Niagara University. Mass is followed by a luncheon in St. Vincent’s Hall.

    This year’s event was particularly special for the Rev. Msgr. James Wall, ’59, and the Rev. Joseph Carlo, who were celebrating the 50th anniversary of ordination. Others attending included the Rev. James Connelly, the Rev. Walter Matuszak, Msgr. Angelo Caligiuri, the Rev. Charles Gaffigan, and Msgr. Daniel Myszka.

    Before Niagara University was recognized by its current name, it was known as the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels. In August 1883, Grover Cleveland, then governor of New York, gave permission to the college and seminary to change its name to Niagara University. The seminary remained a full and vibrant part of the university community until 1961, when it was moved to Albany, N.Y.

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  • 08/28/13--09:15: Florida Reunion
  • (L-r) Several 1951 Niagara University classmates gathered for a reunion in southwest Florida: Jack Mitchell, Marty Screen, Charlie Starrs and James Finnerty.

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    The Niagara men’s and women’s basketball teams experienced a dream many sport fans have … getting an all-access tour of the ESPN campus in Bristol, Conn. This, courtesy of Niagara University alumnus and former Purple Eagles basketball head manager, Brian Mylod, ’68, who organized the tours through his acquaintance at ESPN, executive vice president Norby Williamson.

    The players and coaching staffs visited the sets of several shows, including ESPNews, Baseball Tonight and the Scott Van Pelt & Russillo Show. They also had a glimpse of how shows like SportsCenter and College GameDay are produced, and crossed paths with several personalities, including Skip Bayless, Andy Katz and Jay Williams.

    “I think all the student-athletes had an awesome time,” Brian said. “The coaches made a nice presentation to Norby and gave him a framed picture of Niagara University.

    “It was a unique opportunity for us to have and that is because Norby is a great guy,” Brian continued. “As a proud alum, it was great to see how first-class the student-athletes acted. They were very appreciative of the experience.”

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    The Niagara University Community Action Program was the first on the top of the list of service clubs and organizations on page 201 of my 1982 undergraduate handbook. I remember it as the largest student organization on campus during my time at Niagara.

    The organization’s description stated the following: “ … students wishing to contribute their time and talent to help the less fortunate are put in contact with existing agencies in the Niagara Falls area for volunteer work. A commitment of one hour a week is asked of student volunteers.”

    I remember well volunteering at Maranatha House, the Lampstand soup kitchen, the YMCA handicapped swim program, and other places with other Niagara students. We were putting into action our Catholic heritage and what we were learning about St. Vincent de Paul and the Vincentian traditions at Niagara.

    Today, this organization and its traditions live on at Niagara in the Learn and Serve program.

    So why reminisce about the past? Because it is providing direction for present and future opportunities for our alumni chapters. I attended an alumni chapter event in Charlotte, N.C., on May 18. With the support of chapter leaders Jason Stein, ’93, Sarah Griffin, ’01, and Kaylin Ranagan, ’08, we participated in an afternoon of service at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte. There, we worked alongside 12 other Niagara alumni and friends, and joined with 15 other volunteer workers to help sort donations to the food bank for distribution to local agencies that assist the poor and needy.

    A number of us talked about how similar this experience was to our NUCAP or Learn and Serve experiences. During the afternoon, we got to know each other a little better while providing a great service to the Charlotte community.The Office of Alumni Engagement encourages all alumni chapters to consider hosting a day of service each year. If you would like more information on how to start this process, or want to be connected with the alumni chapter leader in your area, please contact me at 716.286.8772 or at

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  • 09/03/13--09:15: NUAA President's Message
  • Dear fellow alumni,

    The impact of the Niagara University Alumni Association is far-reaching. We serve an alumni base of more than 32,000 graduates worldwide. Our alumni chapters have grown significantly the past few years, with 15 chapters, most recently adding the Greater Toronto Area chapter and the Southern Ontario chapter. Plans have also begun for a North Texas chapter.

    Your alumni association is positioned to be an active part of the university’s growth and transformation. In looking at my role as president of the NUAA, I am excited to help mobilize alumni across the world in the common goal of supporting Niagara. We have many key areas upon which we will focus in the coming year, including engaging our young alumni base in meaningful ways, expanding the opportunities for our alumni to volunteer, and reaching out and participating with our alumni in service and other projects across the world. Regardless of your location or class year, however, there are three things that all alumni everywhere can do to help their alma mater.

    Stay connected to NU through the many communication options available. When the Eagle magazine arrives, I encourage you to read about all the great things happening at your alma mater. An email newsletter is sent to you regularly, and you can always find information about fellow alumni, upcoming events and much more on our Niagara University Alumni Facebook page. If you are not getting the magazine or emails, please contact the Office of Alumni Engagement at 716.286.8787 or email

    Get involved. We need your energy and enthusiasm to help promote Niagara to current and future alumni in meaningful ways. Get involved in a local chapter near you or volunteer to help start a new one. Help to recruit a new student to NU or be a mentor to a current one. Share opportunities for employment or internships at your company. Attend an event, or support the Purple Eagles sports teams on the road in your area.

    Make a gift to the Niagara Fund. As a fellow NU alum, I would like to remind you that we share a responsibility to make sure that present and future generations are able to benefit from the same Catholic, Vincentian education that we were afforded. The career paths we chose, the networks we built, and the contributing members of society that we have become didn’t just happen. Niagara University played a role in developing the people we are today. The beautiful campus, strong academics, Purple Eagle athletics, and nationally recognized community service in which you participated are all made possible by the Niagara Fund. Additionally, alumni giving rates affect college rankings and a higher ranking will make your Niagara degree more valuable.

    We will be asking you — the Niagara University Alumni Association — to play a large role in events, activities and much more. Our alumni association will only be as strong and successful as each of you will enable us to be through your active involvement, support and participation. I look forward to working with you as we continue to grow the alumni association that serves the entire alumni body and our surrounding community.

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  • 09/03/13--09:22: Who Was There
  • Photos from alumni events that happened this spring.

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    “It is quite a difficult task to define the influence and importance of Father Levesque on Niagara University, the Western New York area, and well beyond this region. Father Levesque has been a driving force who has challenged people at the university and the region to adopt the Vincentian mission in order to advance education and community development initiatives, all for the betterment of people and communities. Numerous times I have witnessed the true compassion and concern for others that make people appreciate Father for his ability to help those in distress or need. While Niagara University will miss Father not being at the helm of the institution, we can rest assured that his influence and support will continue in the region as he assumes his new role of president emeritus. For these reasons, among countless other deeds Father has done over the years, we can never thank him enough for the legacy of his leadership and the role model he has provided us for being the consummate servant-leader.”

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  • 08/27/13--11:04: A Tribute to Father Levesque
  • The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., Niagara University’s 25th president, steps down from his position as president this summer. The fourth longest tenured president in the history of Niagara, Father Levesque will long be remembered as having led a continuous process of transformation that has significantly developed the physical character of the university’s campus and its 21st century approach to teaching and learning. However, the story of his 13 years as president encompasses more than this, and is perhaps most fittingly told by the people who know him best.

    Deanna Alterio Brennen, President and CEO, Niagara USA Chamber

    Sister Beth Brosmer, Director, Heart, Love & Soul

    Dr. Debra Colley, Dean, College of Education

    Rev. Kevin Creagh, C.M., Vice President, Campus Ministry/Vincentian Religious Superior, Niagara University

    Dr. Shawn Daly, Dean, College of Business Administration

    Dr. Timothy Downs, Vice President, Academic Affairs

    Robert Dwyer, '65, Board Chairman Emeritus, Niagara University

    Claudia Fleckenstein, Executive Assistant to the President

    James V. Glynn, '57, Board Chariman Emeritus, Niagara University

    Jeffrey R. Holzschuh, '82, Chairman, Niagara University Board of Trustees

    Dr. Timothy Ireland, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

    Michael Jaszka, Vice President, Administration – Business Affairs

    Dr. Nancy McGlen, Professor and Dean Emeritus

    Joseph Mihalich, Former Men's Head Basketball Coach

    John Osberg, '13, Technical Recruiter/Analyst, EmergenceTek Group, Inc.

    Dr. Timothy Osberg, Professor of Psychology

    John T. Overbeck, '75, Faculty Fellow, College of Business Administration

    Dr. Gary Praetzel, Dean, College of Hospitality and Tourism Management

    Dr. Bonnie Rose, Executive Vice President

    Sema Shepard, Former Campus Postmistess

    Mike Skowronski, Corporate Relations Developer, Career Services

    Marsha Joy Sullivan, Niagara University Trustee

    Dr. David Taylor, Director, The Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., Institute for Civic Engagement

    James Tipa, Sophomore Business Major, Mount Kisco, N.Y.

    Rev. Louis Trotta, C.M., Former Assistant to the President for Alumni Relations

    Dr. Sharon Watkinson, '66, Chair and Professor of Theatre and Fine Arts

    Dr. Judy Willard, '70, M.A.'72, Assistant to the President for Planning

    Christopher Zukas, '12, Director of Campus Activities, University of Maine at Machias


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