Christopher Sheffield, vice president for Student Affairs; Russell Goeseke, field representative for NYS Senator Robert Ortt; NYS Assemblyman Angelo Morinello; Jeff Panza of LeChase Construction Services; Hailey Griffin, ’24; the Rev. James Maher, C.M., Niagara University president; Derek Puff, director of recreation, intramural, and club sports; Steve Broderick, Town of Lewiston supervisor; and Averl Harbin, dean of students, cut the ribbon on the renovated Kiernan Recreation Center.

Facility is a center for student academic and recreation activities


Niagara University celebrated the completion of an $11.5 million renovation project at its Kiernan Recreation Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 19, 2023. The project was funded through a $1 million grant from the NYS Higher Education Capital (HECap) matching program, as well as other private donations and university investments.

“The renovated Kiernan Center will provide our students, and the entire community, with a facility that anchors our commitment to excellence and touches every aspect of a student’s life on our campus,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “The Kiernan Center enhances the living-learning environment for our students, whether through academic programming, intramural and club sports, or as a place for students to maintain their physical well-being through individual or group exercise.” 

The Kiernan Center features a swimming pool, free weights, basketball courts, an aerobic dance area, and a wide array of cardio and strength-training equipment. The facility is used by more than 2,000 individuals each week, with 400 students participating in club sports and more than 1,000 students competing in intramural sports each year. Students also participate in popular workout programs such as kickboxing, Zumba, Pilates and yoga. Additionally, the facility has space that is used by a number of academic departments each semester as part of their curriculum.

In addition to its importance for recreation, the Kiernan Center is also used by the university’s academic sector. The center is a resource for students from the College of Education involved in the Special Olympics class programming, theatre students have dance classes in in the facility, the sport management program uses the facility for classes and programs, and R.O.T.C. Purple Eagle battalion uses the center for its training programs. 

The renovation project included the construction of an 18,000 square-foot, two-story addition with a new weight room, sports medicine suite, advanced dance studios, field and classroom storage, athletic locker rooms, team meeting space, and recreation offices. In addition, improvements including replacement to the front gym floor, upgrades to Scaffidi gym, and infrastructure enhancements such as a new natatorium filtration system were also completed during the renovation, as were student-focused additions such as student meeting and multiuse spaces and a new, more welcoming entryway.

The Kiernan Center also serves as an asset for the Niagara Region. The Special Olympics has hosted its annual regional competition at the Kiernan Center since 2008. The center hosted the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation’s Girls in Sports Day in 2019, and the facility was used for the 2019 American Diabetes Tour de Cure event. The Kiernan Center is also used each year by hundreds of members of the local community for youth summer camps and clinics.

NU partnered with LeChase Construction Services to manage the Kiernan Center renovations.

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