The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, smiles at the podium during a press conference to announce the deepening of the partnershp between NU and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. Joining Father Maher is Memorial President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo.

What do you get when you combine an innovative force in healthcare with a pioneering presence in higher education?

Western New York is about to find out.

Niagara University and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, two of the region’s most service-oriented institutions, today announced they have engaged in a joint effort to promote economic growth, enhance workforce development and expand international tourism.

The initiative builds on a longstanding relationship that includes a robust student internship program, disability awareness efforts, customer service training and the establishment of Memorial’s popular Tenth Street Café.

A memorandum of understanding formalizing the agreement was signed during a ceremony at Niagara University’s Niagara Global Tourism Institute.

“We are excited to deepen the partnership between Niagara University and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, and strategically leverage our collective resources to make a significant positive impact on the residents of Western New York,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “We view our relationship with Memorial as an extension of our Catholic and Vincentian mission to be the rising tide that lifts all boats, with a deep-rooted interest in improving the lives of our neighbors in the region. This dynamic and robust partnership seeks to continue to advance the economic and social development of Niagara Falls and the entire Buffalo-Niagara region.”

“Niagara Falls Memorial and Niagara University are both dedicated to serving all members of the community, including the poor, the oppressed and those with special needs,” said Memorial President & CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo.  “As our relationship with the university has grown we have come to realize a significant alignment between our service goals and objectives and Niagara University’s. This new alliance commits us to combining our strengths in ways that will benefit the entire region.”

Significantly, the presidents and senior leadership teams of both the university and the medical center will play active roles in the implementation of every aspect of the collaboration.

Between them, the institutions have offered more than 280 years of service to the community. Niagara University, founded in 1856, provides comprehensive educational opportunities in an enriching, dynamic learning environment that emphasizes service in the Vincentian tradition. Memorial Medical Center, founded in 1895, provides comprehensive, high quality healthcare services with a focus on improving the health of the population and reducing health disparities.

Both are major employers and recognized leaders in local development with millions of dollars of investment in new, expanded and upgraded facilities including Memorial’s Golisano Center for Community Health and Niagara University’s B. Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences. The agreement signed today commits the parties to joint efforts in three key areas:

Medical Tourism: Memorial Medical Center already attracts Canadian residents for high-tech, minimally invasive elective surgery. Niagara University’s Niagara Global Tourism Institute offers a unique opportunity to explore and develop worldwide marketing strategies that support healthcare services at Memorial and educational opportunities at Niagara University, expanding the economic impact of both institutions and further supporting regional tourism.

Workforce Development: In an evolving healthcare environment, new joint workforce development programs will help students and area residents, including job-seekers and current workers, gain the knowledge and skills needed for healthcare jobs in demand today and in the future. Collaborative initiatives will expand education and training opportunities beyond the Niagara University campus, including the Golisano Center for Community Health, in a community where jobs and skilled employees are needed.

Joint Economic Development Initiatives: Both institutions are major economic engines in the Niagara region. Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has implemented innovative care models that significantly reduce the cost of healthcare and create the need for additional highly trained professionals. With innovative curriculum offerings and expanded campus initiatives, Niagara University is attracting a highly motivated and gifted student body. The institutions will work jointly to seek economic development opportunities that will benefit area residents and allow students to remain in the Niagara Region after they graduate to take advantage of new career opportunities in healthcare and other fields.

The parties are exploring a number of other ways in which to apply their combined expertise and effort to improve the region’s quality of life.

“In addition, we will further develop the areas in which we already collaborate,” Ruffolo said. “As an example, we will serve as a prime internship site for Niagara’s Vincentian Scholars, as we continue to expand student internship opportunities in mental health services, social work, nursing, marketing and other clinical and non-clinical career fields.”

“Our pronounced emphasis is on educating the whole student – mind, body, heart and soul – while preparing him or her for a fulfilling career after graduation,” added Father Maher. “By providing more opportunities for our students to accrue hands-on, practical experience with an organization, like Memorial, that offers services to those who need it most, it benefits all of those involved.”

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