The Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equity, and Mission establishes critical interdependencies both on and off-campus, working together with faculty and students across colleges and disciplines of study to leverage change in the academy and across sectors of education, business, government, and the community. As such, the Center serves as a resource to the community on issues of racial equity.
Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko
Niagara University's Ostapenko Center is named in honor of Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko, a native of Germany who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s before becoming a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. Utilizing her talents as a clothing designer, Ostapenko opened The Sewing Shop in Washington, D.C., the precursor to The House of Fine Fabrics, a 17-store corporation. She sold the fabric store chain in 1978 to Fabri-Center of America. Ostapenko’s philanthropy supported many types of educational, religious, health, and community service organizations. She was introduced to Niagara University by her friend, 1951 NU alumnus Jim Keenan, and developed a friendship with the Rev. Francis X. Prior, C.M., who served as NU’s vice president for institutional advancement. Ostapenko received an honorary doctorate from Niagara in 1986. Upon her passing in 2014, a portion of her estate was designated to support Niagara University, creating the Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equity, and Mission and the Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Ethics in Medicine and Healthcare.
The Center also celebrates the living memory of St. Justin de Jacobis, a Vincentian priest and a loyal son of St. Vincent de Paul who ministered in Ethiopia and is considered an apostle to Africa.