At the heart of the University’s mission is the articulation, promotion and transmission of knowledge framed by the Catholic Intellectual and Spiritual Traditions. This mission takes shape first in the interactions between faculty and student. Transformational relationships produce people with confidence, clarity of direction and a heightened sense of purpose.
Through teaching, scholarship and service, this special relationship Niagara University prepares its students for positions of responsibility in the professions and in the broader society. In programs of study at the baccalaureate and graduate levels, Niagara seeks to develop within its students a passion for learning.
Maintaining a distinctive identity and mission is an essential task for every Catholic institution. The basic components of the Catholic university were articulated by Pope John Paul II in the 1990 document, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church). The following excerpt from this document (ECE) clarify the nature of a Catholic institution of higher education.
“Every Catholic university, as a university, is an academic community which, in a rigorous and critical fashion, assists in the protection and advancement of human dignity and of a cultural heritage through research, teaching and various services offered to the local, national and international communities. It possesses that institutional autonomy necessary to perform its functions effectively and guarantees its members academic freedom, so long as the rights of the individual person and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good.”
The Core Values of Vincentian Education
A thorough examination of the documentation relative to education in the lives and writings of Vincent de Paul and his collaborator Louise de Marillac revealed the following values as central to their common mission of evangelization and to the education process.
- Holistic: Vincentian education seeks to respond to the intellectual, spiritual, moral, and affective needs of students-- educating the heart as well as the head.
- Integrated: Vincentian education blends the humanistic and the professional, the abstract and the practical.
- Creative: Vincentian education is ever seeking new or renewed ways to meet changing needs among the student population while maintaining a clear 'sense of the possible.'
- Flexible: Vincentian education is willing to make the effort to adapt to the needs of the non-traditional student.
- Excellent: Vincentian education places quality at the center of its educational activities. It seeks this excellence in (1) Teaching: The instructor must not only be competent but must also be efficient, dedicated and reveal 'all those virtues required of the students;' and (2) Methodology: The method employed must be active, challenging, competency-based, and enable the student not only to learn but to enjoy doing so.
- Person Oriented: The Vincentian educational institution must be one in which all: administration, faculty, staff, and most importantly, students are respected and valued.
- Collaborative: Vincentian education seeks to collaborate rather than merely compete with other educational institutions.
- Focused: Vincentian education is ever-viewed as central to the Vincentian mission of service to the Poor. As such it strives to integrate this vision into the educational process and to keep the primacy of it alive among all those who share in this common mission.
Education was central to the Vincentian mission of evangelization of and service to the Poor and as such had values unique to it. Indeed, education was the most far reaching form of service since it enabled the poor to break the cycle of poverty, find meaningful employment, and thus enhance their self-respect and confidence. Moreover, by providing quality education to all, the Vincentian institution also was able to transmit this vision of service to others who would later carry it on in their own lives.
(from Sullivan, Louise, D.C.. The Core Values of Vincentian Education. Niagara University, New York: 1994)
St. Vincent de Paul believed in the virtue of action and he loved to use this classic motto: TOTUM OPUS NOSTRUM IN OPERATIONE CONSISTIT (All our work ends up in action). Then he would add that "Perfection does not come from ecstasy but rather from doing the will of God." (sv 11:41. 317).
Action research, or research that makes a difference is the mark of a Niagara University scholar. St. Vincent knew well that inquiry, study, reading, observation, and testing were essential for effective, organized responses to poverty. However, he insisted that all of this work bear fruit for the betterment of those who were trapped in poverty.
Niagara University’s tradition of scholarship that sets the stage for social change grows daily, because of the fruitful collaborations of faculty, students and community partners.