The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, addresses graduates Tuesday evening during BPS Commencement at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

Niagara University’s College of Education awarded degrees to 169 graduates during its ninth commencement in Ontario on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in North York.

Elizabeth Papadopoulos, an elementary school teacher in Toronto who recently completed a six-year term as chair of the Council of the Ontario College of Teachers, delivered the commencement address and received the university’s Founder’s Award.

“Congratulations, graduates. You are aware, no doubt, that you’re about to receive a degree that will open doors for you, and allow you to make a difference in this world like no other profession,” said Papadopoulos, a 1991 Niagara University alumna. “Niagara’s programs align themselves with the ethical standards and standards of practice that make us the professionals that we are: care, trust, respect and integrity – four small words that mean so much to every child that walks into your classroom.”

The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, presided at commencement ceremonies and conferred the degree of bachelor of professional studies in education on graduates.

BPS Commencement | 01.26.16

Two students who have achieved the highest grade-point average in their respective fields of study received gold medals. They were Amie Bozzo for the primary-junior program, and Elize Ceschia for the intermediate-senior program. In addition, Katherina Stoyanovska (primary-junior) and Gary Nayman (intermediate-senior) were honored with Excellence in Teacher Preparation awards, as determined by faculty members.

Papadopoulos, a graduate of York and Niagara universities, presently teaches fourth and fifth grades at Silverthorn Community School in Toronto, and holds specialist qualifications in English as a Second Language and in physical and health education.

From 2009 to 2015, Papadopoulos served consecutive terms as chair of the Council of the Ontario College of Teachers, Canada’s only body of self-governing teaching professionals. In this elected role, Papadopoulos oversaw the 249,000-member organization, which sets policies and standards for the governance of the teaching profession in Ontario.

Papadopoulos has demonstrated service and dedication to Niagara University by meeting with graduates as they transition from student-teaching to members of the Ontario College of Teachers. In essence, she has served as an alumni ambassador for these young educators, welcoming them into the profession.

Niagara University, a Catholic and Vincentian university in Lewiston, N.Y., offers a bachelor’s degree in teacher education, with programs in primary-junior and intermediate-senior teacher preparation, at sites in Toronto and York. The university, founded in 1856, has written consent from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to offer its programs, which are accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers. It has offered education programs in Ontario for more than 30 years.

Further information on Niagara University and its program in Ontario is available at

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