This fall, Niagara University welcomed its first class of Brennan Scholars: (front row, l-r) Alannah Solomon, Lauren Ervolina, Violet Printup, and Heidi Pauta; (back row, l-r) Semira Vincent, Cristina Reina-Martinez, and Janasia Hayward. Missing from photo: Teosha Williams.

Niagara University has been named as one of a select group of companies recognized by Buffalo Business First for its outstanding work in 2022. The publication cited the university’s investment in faculty and capital projects, its addition of programs and students at its Ontario campus, and its growing year-over-year enrollment–despite a national trend of enrollment declines–as highlights of the year.

By playing to its strengths and focusing on the future, Niagara has been able to advance the goals and objectives of its strategic plan during a year of unprecedented challenges for higher education. It also launched the largest and most impactful philanthropic campaign in its 166-year history, “Powering Transformation: The Campaign for Niagara University,” which seeks to raise $125 million by December 2023.

“The success of this ambitious campaign will support our vision for the future,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president. “It will ensure that Niagara University continues to provide an outstanding living-learning environment grounded in service to develop mission-driven leaders who contribute in powerful ways to their communities and around the world.”

The university has also invested in facilities and capital projects, including an $11.5 million renovation of the Kiernan Center, $1 million of which was funded by a Higher Education Capital (HECap) Matching Grant. The new Kiernan Center, which is actively used by students, employees, alumni, and individuals from the community, was completed this fall.

Niagara’s recent purchase of a church building in the Bridge District of Niagara Falls, financed in part by a $1.1 million grant administered by Empire State Development, will support its efforts to create a community-based academic innovation hub and its commitment to the revitalization of the city. The hub aims to be a beehive of strategic university activity, where students advance their careers with real-world experiences while impacting the community.

While other institutions of higher education are facing declining enrollment, Niagara’s full-time enrollment has grown 5% year-over-year, as reported in Business First’s annual lists of largest area colleges. In 2022, enrollment increased by 161 to 3,432.

Alumni support has figured prominently in the university’s ability to attract students. A gift of $10 million from Jeff and Mary Helen Holzschuh, both members of Niagara University’s Class of 1982, supports the university’s Trustee Scholarship Program for students in the Holzschuh College of Business Administration and the College of Nursing, as well as the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

This fall, the university welcomed its first class of Lois Lyon Brennan Scholars, a group of talented, high-achieving students from under-resourced communities. The Brennan Scholar program was made possible through a $5 million gift from Niagara University alumnus Edward J. Brennan, ’78, and Deborah Brennan.

And students who were unable to take advantage of the career pathways provided through internships and professional experiences because they could not afford to accept unpaid placements will now be able to participate in these transformative opportunities, thanks to a $3.5 million commitment from William, ’61, ’07 (Hon.), and Nancy Gacioch.

Enrollment also received a boost due to the growth of the school’s Ontario campus, which opened in 2019 and has grown by about 150 students in the last 18 months, as well as the university’s focus on being “transfer friendly.”

In order to support the increasing number of students, Niagara has hired an additional 18 faculty members. With a workforce of more than 770, Niagara continues to be one of the largest employers in Niagara County.

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