Town of Niagara Justice Anthony L. Restaino, ’05; Dr. Kevin Hinkley, ’05, assistant professor of political science; NU student Caroline LeBron; Dr. David Reilly, director of international studies; NU student Tamana Dawi; NU student Kyla Prince; and Buffalo Public Schools assistant principal Nataisia L. Johnson, ’16, M.S.Ed.’22, at the launch of the Vincentian Center for Justice.

Niagara University’s Vincentian tradition will inform the work of a new living-learning community designed to empower students to pursue justice in their personal and professional lives.

The Vincentian Center for Justice, located in Bailo Hall on the NU campus and established along the lines of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns and the NYU School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, serves as the home of the Justice House program. The program aims to shed light on the meaning and goal of justice and foster student-led initiatives to aid and find solutions to the injustice that affects our communities and the world around us, especially in the areas of social justice, legal advocacy, and the Earth and the environment.

“St. Vincent de Paul, the patron saint of Niagara University, was a leader of action and built the legacy of the Vincentians on service to the poor and marginalized,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “The Vincentian Center for Justice draws its inspiration from Vincent, and its legacy will also be built on engaging service on our campus, in our community, and around the world.”

Open to students of all majors, the program has four primary areas of engagement: the classroom, workshops, in the field, and in the community

In the classroom, conferences and Social Justice Speaker series events are incorporated into the curriculum. Recent presenters include Luella Kenney, ’58, on her ongoing advocacy around Love Canal and her unwavering commitment to environmental justice.

Workshops provide training for students in specific areas and have been hosted by Niagara University’s Pre-Law Advisement association and the International Humanitarian Assistance Program.

In the field, students gain valuable first-hand knowledge from experiential learning opportunities including the Eurosim program, an annual international intercollegiate simulation of the European Union, and immersion trips to places such as Albuquerque, N.M., for the Gathering of Nations Powwow, North America’s largest powwow, and to Puerto Rico to help in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes.

The Justice House program also builds partnerships within the community through projects like the  Afghan Scholars Initiative and PeaceAction NY. Students may also choose to live in specially designated Justice Houses on campus, taking their participation to the next level with enhanced opportunities for learning and service.

A major or a minor in justice studies is also available, as is a Justice House Honor Society.

“A student recently described the center as a place where students can find their voice,” said Dr. David Reilly, director of international studies and co-director of the Justice House program. “This is really what the Vincentian Center for Justice is all about: a student centered-space that supports, enriches, and inspires our justice advocates in training. Whether their passion is environment, law and politics, or social justice, we are committed to providing the tools, mentoring, and training for students to find their path.”

Co-directing the program with Dr. Reilly are Dr. Christopher Lee, associate professor of comparative politics, and Dr. Kevin Hinkley, assistant professor of political science. Niagara University trustee Joshua Stevens and his wife, Melissa, were instrumental in the establishment of the program.