Overview

Throughout its long history, Niagara has remained true to the Vincentian principles of preparing students for personal and professional success while remaining committed to the values of its patron, St. Vincent de Paul, as well as to its Catholic heritage. Niagara relies on a tradition of five Vincentian virtues, which breed confidence. It puts scholarship in action, which produces clarity about one's self and the world. It  encourages all to seek the "good" and to find their divinely given purpose.

Niagara University History

Who was St. Vincent de Paul?

St. Vincent de Paul was a Catholic priest of the 17th century who "changed the face of France." He put into place a complex and effective organization to address the bodily and spiritual needs of the people of his time, and set up structures to ensure that his good works would be effective, flexible, and lasting. He was one of the pioneers of the promotion of lay involvement in the Church, and of the empowerment of women in Church and society. He was an exceptionally skilled organizer planner. Yet, in all of that, he was a humble, holy man. One of his foundations, the Congregation of the Mission -- known in this country as the Vincentian Priests and Brothers -- sponsors and leads the University. St. Vincent's ideas shaped a constantly growing worldwide movement now known as the Vincentian Family. Every Niagaran is a part of that great tradition.

History

Niagara University was founded in 1856 as the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels, which began with six students and two faculty. The founders of the university, Vincentians Priests, the Most Rev. John Timon, C.M. and Rev. John J. Lynch, C.M., purchased two adjoining farms, the Vedder and De Veaux farms, on Monteagle Ridge.   Over the next 25 years, the college and seminary grew and prospered producing graduates that entered such fields as the priesthood, law and medicine, teaching, journalism and many others. Indeed, by the spring of 1863, the college had become so successful that the New York Legislature granted a charter empowering the college and seminary to award degrees to its graduates.

Twenty-five years after its founding, on August 7, 1883, Grover Cleveland, then governor of New York, gave permission to the college and seminary to change its name to Niagara University. The seminary remained a full and vibrant part of the university community until 1961 when it was moved to Albany, New York.

The university has evolved over its long history into an institution that offers degree programs in the Arts and Sciences, Business and Teaching, and Hospitality and Tourism. 

St. Vincent de Paul

Who was St. Vincent de Paul?

St. Vincent de Paul was a Catholic priest of the 17th century who "changed the face of France." He put into place a complex and effective organization to address the bodily and spiritual needs of the people of his time, and set up structures to ensure that his good works would be effective, flexible, and lasting. He was one of the pioneers of the promotion of lay involvement in the Church, and of the empowerment of women in Church and society. He was an exceptionally skilled organizer planner. Yet, in all of that, he was a humble, holy man. One of his foundations, the Congregation of the Mission -- known in this country as the Vincentian Priests and Brothers -- sponsors and leads the University. St. Vincent's ideas shaped a constantly growing worldwide movement now known as the Vincentian Family. Every Niagaran is a part of that great tradition.

 The larger university community is encouraged to study St. Vincent and continue his important work. The Vincentian mission provides purpose to our institution, and calls on us to strive for both excellence and humility.

MISSION: Tradition and Action

Our Lady's of Angels Association

Inspired by the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Angels Association encourages its members and benefactors to support, through their prayers and donations, ministries funded by the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission. Vincentian supported charities are meeting the needs of children, adults and families. Learn more here.

Vincentian Mission Institute

The VMI is an ongoing collaboration among the three Vincentian universities in the United States—Niagara University, St. John’s University, and DePaul University. This two-year cohort program seeks to engage senior leaders at our three institutions in support of their institution’s distinctive Vincentian and Catholic identity. Through collaborative online coursework, web conference discussions, capstone projects, and a Vincentian Heritage trip to France, the VMI leaders strive to answer the question: 

What does it mean for our institution to be a vibrant Catholic, Vincentian university in the twenty-first century?

Mental Health conference

Theater and Psychology majors acting out scenes from the discussions at the Mental Health Summit

 

Notes from a Previous VMI Cohort...

For the members of the Niagara University’s last VMI cohort, the answer to the question “What does it mean for our institution to be a vibrant Catholic, Vincentian university in the twenty-first century?” was directly inspired by the words of St. Vincent DePaul:

“Mental disease is no different than bodily disease and Christianity demands of the humane and powerful to protect, and the skillful to relieve, the one as well as the other.” 

This quote got Dr. Tim Osberg, Associate Professor of Psychology and 2014-2015 VMI member, thinking about the growing mental health needs of students.  Then he, along with the other VMI members undertook a number of campus initiatives aimed at better understanding and better serving students facing mental-health issues.  Their project was kicked off by a conference held at NU in the fall of 2015 entitled, “Changing Our Minds, A Mental Health Summit,” which was attended by over 200 people.

During the conference, Niagara University theatre students and psychology majors from Active Minds, performed a series of engaging role plays that highlighted the need to respond differently to the subtle signs of psychological disorders.  The conference’s keynote address was given by Eric Weaver, a dynamic speaker who served as a police sergeant in Rochester and founded Overcoming the Darkness. His presentation focused on his own struggles with mental illness and provided advice on how individuals can combat stigma.

Dr. Osberg also reviewed some of the signs and symptoms of mental illness. He then presented a set of strategies he recently developed for effectively supporting someone into the mental health system.  Finally, a panel of peer advocates and key local mental health professionals provided perspectives on helping people get the mental health services they need.

Recognizing St. Vincent de Paul as a leader among the clergy in the 17th century movement toward the more humane treatment of the mentally ill, Niagara University continues its ongoing effort to address mental illness, especially among college students.  Members of the 2014-2015 VMI cohort also included Drs. Debra Colley, Executive Vice President; Tim Downs, Provost; Tim Ireland, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and Craig Rivera, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice.