The first Niagara University commencement exercises under the presidency of the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., were indeed memorable.
The festivities kicked off Thursday, May 8 (view photos), with the awarding of advanced degrees to 364 students, including eight who were the first recipients of doctoral degrees from NU since 1948. The Gallagher Center assemblage was treated to remarks from George F. Will, Ph.D., the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the The Washington Post and former contributing editor of Newsweek, who was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. During his remarks, Will, the father of a son with Down syndrome, praised Niagara University’s work with and outreach to the developmentally disabled community.
On Saturday, May 10, 691 undergraduate students received their degrees during a pair of ceremonies held in the Gallagher Center (view photos).
Paul M. McManus, a hospitality magnate and 1965 NU graduate, delivered the commencement address to Niagara’s colleges of Business Administration and Hospitality and Tourism Management during the morning event. For his extraordinary success and exemplary service to his alma mater, Niagara University bestowed its highest honor, the President’s Medal, on McManus.
That afternoon, Niagara’s colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education heard from Andrea Elliott, the New York Times’ investigative reporter whose three-part series, “An Imam in America,” was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. Elliott’s other notable projects for The Times include “Invisible Child,” a five-part series in 2013 that chronicled the life of an 11-year-old homeless girl, winning the George Polk award for local reporting and the Scripps Howard award for human interest reporting. Like Will, Elliott was granted an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Following the event, on Twitter, Elliott called the opportunity – especially with her 107-year-old grandmother in the audience – “the honor of a lifetime.”
— Andrea Elliott (@andreafelliott) May 12, 2014
Father Maher assumed the President’s Office at Niagara University in August 2013 and was inaugurated as Niagara’s 26th president on April 4.