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A message from Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2020 7:02 pm
by Eagle

An encouraging message from Fr. Maher.

A message from Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

Dear Niagara University alumni,

On the precipice of Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to write and update you on the progress the university is making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our spring semester concluded with a "toast" to our graduating seniors last Saturday, and we are working closely with our graduates to host a traditional commencement ceremony later this summer.

As with most universities around the country, we moved our learning environment to a remote and online platform during the spring semester. Our Provost, Dr. Tim Ireland worked with our academic task force, and urgently implemented comprehensive strategies to seamlessly transition the quality of the academic experience. Our Offices of Student Activities and Enrollment Management also transitioned to a remote platform and rolled out a robust offering of online and virtual activities for current and prospective students – all while the Crisis Response Team managed the details of the university’s response to the challenges from the pandemic. The story I would like to convey to you is that you, as alumni, should be so proud of our faculty, administrators and staff. They took a page out of St. Vincent de Paul's play book, serving our students, families and community with the heart of a servant and with great ingenuity.

I made the determination to refund close to $3 million in student housing and food plans to our resident students. The total financial impact to the university from the pandemic is now just over $5 million. Our team worked with elected offices to secure funding from the America CARES Act with just over $1.35 million distributed to our current students and an equal amount to the university, which is being used to recoup some of our losses. To help mitigate the impact, we instituted graduated temporary pay reductions, and furloughed a number of employees across campus. Furloughed employees have continued to receive their benefits, including health insurance, and are eligible for unemployment benefits from New York State and the CARES Act. Our Office of Human Resources is in regular contact with our employees and it is my fervent hope to bring them back to fully employed status this summer.

A question I am regularly asked; how are things looking for the fall? Right now, our freshman deposits are tracking 3-4% behind last year. While that year-to-date differential is much better than the national average (many experiencing a 15-20% drop), we are not taking anything for granted. Our Executive VP for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions, Robert Murphy is leading a group of very talented, energetic and focused professionals. Together they are working closely with our prospective students to help them enroll and prevent “summer melt.” Time will tell but I can assure you in this area and all others, we will follow the example of St. Vincent: work as though everything depends on you and pray as though everything depends on God. As we plan for the fall, we are working with Governor Cuomo's New York Forward task force on higher education, and implementing the Commission on Independent Colleges and University (CICU) task force recommendations. We are also continuing to follow the guidelines outlined by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

In my close to seven years as President of Niagara University we have been blessed by having outstanding individuals serve as trustees, and we have been led by exceptional board chairs, Jeffrey Holzschuh and Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. Our board, senior team and university leadership have prepared us not only to meet the demographic challenges but to be prepared to emerge a stronger institution when an event like this pandemic arrives. Some examples of investments we have made in the last five years:

A complete redesign of the Office of Business Affairs, with high and mid-level talent acquisition and a clear strategic focus on innovation, deep collaboration, the leveraging and integration of technology.
Strategic investments in Enrollment Management from top to bottom with a focus on marketing and a career pathway program.
The creation of, and a three to five-year commitment to, our academic focus on "Take Flight 2020" (this initiative will be highlighted in our newly released Eagle Magazine).
Strategic investment in Institutional Advancement with an aggressive fundraising focus integrated based on our strategic and master plans.
A recrafting of our Grants and Sponsored Programs which is beginning to solidify.

Our initiative in the Province of Ontario, city of Vaughan, with investments in three new graduate programs and a state-of-the-art campus site.
Expansion of graduate program offerings that meet current/growing demands in the marketplace and implementation of strategic actions to increase online methods of delivery.
Continuing investments in the city of Niagara Falls and the bi-national region, including the recently opened Niagara Global Tourism incubator, focused on driving tourism technology and business development in Niagara Falls.

Investment in upgrading of residence halls and strategic development of student amenities, including a state-of-the art Esports lounge on campus.
I assure that your university continues to thrive in a very challenging time. I would also like to thank you for your support of the Purple Eagles Emergency Relief Fund, we have topped $230,000 and expect that number to grow significantly in the coming weeks. Our current and prospective students have expressed their gratitude for your support.

On the occasion of this weekend when we remember the sacrifice of so many, I thank you for your support and ask you to join me in sending prayerful best wishes to all our alumni who are living the Vincentian mission in their service of all impacted by COVID-19. God Bless you and your families, have a safe, healthy and wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

With every good wish,

James J. Maher, C.M.

Re: A message from Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 10:07 am
by le
Moved down to this thread.

Just a note to Anderson : The vast majority of members on this forum are decent respectful people who all contribute to NU in a variety of ways, just not mega donations. Please refrain from derogatory comments aimed at a large group of alums who have contributed to NU their entire adult lives. le

How is NU still open ?
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How is NU still open ?
Postby anderson » Thu May 21, 2020 11:57 pm

The current covid 19 pandemic is raising hell with college bottom lines. How is NU not closing or at least cutting stuff. NU has an endowment of 90 million. The University of Tulsa has an endowment of 1.1 billion. Both schools are the same enrollment size but Tulsa is cutting programs and right sizing for the future. This is despite the fact they have the endowment I mentioned before. How does NU plan to survive. NU only gets about 10% of alums to donate so I see a cash flow issue that could close the school. We are behind on deposits for the incoming class as to last year. Last was so so and being down 5% could kill the university. That is roughly 30 kids plus the loss of resident cash is not going to make the bottom line work. If Tulsa had to cut things with a big bank account how does Niagara stay open ?

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Postby MICKEY » Fri May 22, 2020 8:11 am

May be we should combine this thread with the one with Fr Maher’s message he put out yesterday if we can!
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Re: How is NU still open ?
Postby Eagle » Fri May 22, 2020 8:57 am

Perhaps it should be combined with Fr. Maher's note or just be taken down as irresponsible.

Re: A message from Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 10:14 am
by Eagle
"Perhaps Anderson's note should be combined with Fr. Maher's note or just be taken down as irresponsible."

Niagara is in fine shape and this international pandemic just may be an opportunity for growth.

Thank you Marcus Brown.**

Anderson's note is gibberish.



Re: A message from Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 11:25 am
To the contrary, I think Anderson’s post is very appropriate and begs the question, what is Niagara’s magic wand? It’s niave in my opinion to think some how we are exempt from the problems that vertically every other university is talking about. As Anderson pointed out can we really exist as a university that produces social workers, teachers and restaurant managers. Will high school students continue to pay the cost of private higher education to enter such fields or others like it. Will they be the donors to a new $20 million dorm or a new $40 million field house? It’s not about fairy dust, it’s about money. It’s time we moved away from the fantasy of the past and started talking about our future, our real future.

Re: A message from Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 1:38 pm
by phillyeagle
I think Niagara realized some past failings had to be addressed with the construction of the new science building, named after the primary donor, Tom Golisano. That building has been very successful in spurring enrollment in the science programs . They would love to expand the building. The Business college is in good shape and the Nursing program is also Now doing well. I did find it comforting to know that in Fr. Maher’s letter he mentioned the importance of “investment in the upgrading of residence halls.” A key for NU is to again attract students outside of WNY and CNY. NU’s cost is very attractive to most students from the the metro Philly and NYC area where any private college costs are at least 50% higher. They need a robust campus student life to do that.
If one thinks Niagara is suffering irreversible harm, what are the other even smaller endowed private colleges in WNYS going to do? I do not know how Damien , D’Youville or Medaille can compete.
NU will experience some pain, but if last years new enrollment only drops 10%, they will be one of the survivors. Everyone, who can, may want to send something extra this year to assist .

Re: A message from Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 9:31 pm
by jhart
For the record, I increased my annual contribution yesterday by 50% from last year to NU.
My hockey number doubled and over the next four years.
Jason's response: "speechless"!
United, we can do this!


Re: A message from Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 11:35 pm
by le
Good job Jim. As I said, countless members of this forum have contributed in many different ways with regards to advancing Niagara University.