Remarks From Lynch Dinner ”” Sept. 19, 2005
As I look around the room, I can’t help but think how pleased our co-founder, Father John Lynch, would be by tonight’s turnout. Not only are there a good number of Lynch Society members here, but you represent a nice mix of community—both the local Western New York community and the university community. Your presence and support are signs of your conviction that the university is important to you, important to our 3,800 students as a values-based educational institution, important to the 1,000 people who work here, and important to the area’s economy, to which it contributes an estimated $175-million. Before I highlight some of the many wonderful things that are happening here, I would like to acknowledge the trustees and Advisory Board members who are in attendance to thank them for their extra-special commitment to Niagara. I am happy to welcome trustees Jim Boldt, Brian Crosby, Kathy Monti and John Sanderson. Also with us from the Board of Advisors are Carol Cassell, Tom Denn, Chris Glynn, Judge Jerry Gorski, Nate Marton, John Rumschick and Dr. Tom Summers.
You, the people I have just introduced, and all of you here, as Lynch Society members, are special to the university, and it is with much gratitude that I thank you, on behalf of the students, faculty and staff, for your leadership support. Your financial assistance and your many contributions of time and talent are valued and important to us as we strive to fulfill our Vincentian mission and attain our educational and institutional goals. You are partners with us in educating and graduating students who, because of their Vincentian and Catholic education and values, will truly make a difference in this world.
Now I realize that I am the only person standing between you and a wonderful dinner. So I will be brief in my remaining remarks. However, I do want to say a few words about Niagara’s importance to the community—something I alluded to earlier—because as people who support us, it’s important for you to know the impact Niagara makes educationally, economically, socially and culturally.
First of all, our students are making a significant contribution. Last year, they provided 46,000 hours of voluntary service, nearly 30,000 of which were spent tutoring at-risk students in nine area school districts and other after-school sites. In addition, they also performed service at more than 65 sites throughout Erie and Niagara counties and in Southern Ontario.
In recent years, our four colleges have developed centers that are serving business and industry, helping school districts with their professional development needs, and training workers for the local hospitality industry. With $2.5 million from New York state, we have developed four new science labs in which students are being educated to support Western New York’s emerging bioinformatics industry.
We’re also developing new educational programs to address current societal needs. We have a new baccalaureate program to train future teachers how to teach English to those for whom it is a second language, and there’s a new minor in forensic accounting that combines three areas of strength for the university: accounting, computer and information sciences, and criminal justice.
We’re sending students abroad to enrich their educational experiences, and we’re bringing students here from other countries for the same reason. As an aside, I’m pleased to note that we were able to accommodate two local students who were attending universities in New Orleans and were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We are offering them free tuition to help them and their schools in this time of great need.
We’re also planning for the future and taking steps to address our space and facilities needs. Just recently, we updated plans for new facilities for the College of Business Administration and the College of Education that call for a new academic complex that will provide homes not only for these two highly accredited colleges, but also new classroom space for the entire campus. We hope to break ground next spring.
Just recently, NU was ranked again among the best colleges and universities in the Northeast by two national publications. And the 2004 National Survey of Student Engagement found that NU is among the top master’s level universities in providing educational opportunities that ensure student success.
The NCAA has certified, without condition, that our athletics programs are in full compliance with rules and regulations. Our athletes are also having great academic success, and they are graduating.
We, the NiagaraUniversity community, and all of our friends and benefactors, have much to be proud of as Niagara approaches the grand celebration of its sesquicentennial next year. But because we are a relatively small, private university serving the people we do, we will continue to be successful only to the degree that our alumni, friends, corporate supporters and foundations stand with us.
I again thank you for your past assistance, and I pray that you will continue to say “yes” when asked to continue the support that is so important to the future of this institution.
And now, please enjoy your dinners. I will be happy to take questions while dessert is being served.