Niagara University will complete the semester utilizing remote instruction.
From President, Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. (April 2, 2020)
Dear Members of the University Community,
I am very pleased that, for the most part, we are moving smoothly through our first week of remote operations for teaching, learning, and working. And even as we resume our academic schedules, and there is a sense of business moving forward, there is an unusual element of quietness in our lives.
As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in the continual process of critical review and deliberate decision making. Every decision we make is grounded on the guiding question of how it will impact our students and their families. I ask for your continued patience and understanding as we move forward in each of our decision-making processes.
This week, I issued guidance on our decision to credit accounts for housing, waive late fees, and extend tuition payments. Many universities have not done this; however, regardless of the financial impact of the coronavirus to Niagara University, I feel strongly that this is the right thing to do for our students and their families. We are keenly aware of the financial implications and commitment made by our families in their choice of an independent, private university experience.
In summary, the letters to students and parents this week included information on the following:
- Credits and refunds provided to resident students on room and board from the end of the spring break through the remainder of the academic semester.
- Late fees waived (undergraduate and graduate students in Lewiston and Vaughan).
- 30-day extension granted on payments (undergraduate and graduate students in Lewiston and Vaughan) – additional time, if needed, handled on a case-by-case basis.
We also apprised students that a return to the residence halls on April 14 is no longer possible. This is disheartening for many of our students, as springtime on a university campus is often the most exciting time of the year, not to mention the friendships formed and communities established within the halls of our residences. Please know that we will work with all students who have extenuating circumstances, as it is our commitment to navigate their success this semester. Chris Sheffield and his team are reaching out to students, providing additional information on securing their belongings, and offering services and assistance on campus as needed.
Information continues to be updated and posted to the COVID-19 page of our website for both Lewiston and Vaughan (www.niagara.edu, www.niagarau.ca). Please watch this page as we continue to navigate the questions and answers, post information from across campus, and link to new information stemming from our health leaders in the US and Canada.
At Niagara University, we thrive on engagement, building communities for and about learning, and creating a special sense of place and purpose on Monteagle Ridge. Without the physical presence of our students and co-workers in our everyday lives, many of us feel a need to reach out and connect. It is what we do and who we are—and we all wait to reconnect soon with people whom we know as students, colleagues, and friends. I encourage you to reach out to one another and continue to pray for our students, our university community, and the wider world.
With very best wishes,
James J. Maher, C.M.
From President, Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. (March 17, 2020)
Dear Niagara University Campus Community,
As the situation related to the coronavirus continues to expand and affect our daily lives, I have reached the following decisions, which are influenced by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s directives, elected officials in Canada, and guidance from federal health organizations in the United States and Canada.
- All courses will be offered remotely starting on Monday, March 30, 2020. This includes all courses offered at our Lewiston campus as well as in Vaughan, Ontario. A more detailed note from our Provost, Dr. Tim Ireland, will be following shortly, but we have a window of time to help prepare for this shift to remote education. Our full-time and part-time faculty and our students have been responding wonderfully to date and I fully expect that the concern and compassion on display every day at NU will persist and thrive in the remote environment.
- All university residence halls, including university apartments, will be closed until Monday, April 13 (after our Easter break), and all campus activities are cancelled during this time. Students currently living in residence who are unable to leave campus may be granted an exemption on a case-by-case basis. Resident students who are currently off campus will be not permitted to return to residence until April 13. Chris Sheffield, the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, will be sharing more information regarding this shortly.
- The Lewiston campus, including residence halls, will be open on Tuesday, April 14, and remote instruction will continue throughout the semester. Academic Support, the library, labs, Career Services, and other services and facilities will be available to support students study and learning. More information regarding services will be available in the next few days.
- In the coming days you will hear more about summer and fall registration, academic advisement, and residential room selection. These are all critical events in the lives of NU students and our goal is to make these processes as smooth as possible during this time of disruption.
- We are currently working on policies related to Spring 2020 room and board charges for resident students, and we will share these details with students and families as soon as they are available.
We will continue using several methods of overlapping communication, including: email, the Daily Post, alert text messaging, social media, and our website. This website will continue as a primary location for up-to-date messages, answers to frequently-asked-questions, contact information for those who can answer specific questions, and it will continue to expand and further segment with targeted message to specific audiences. I encourage you to visit this site regularly.
As the Niagara University community has faced the challenges of the last few weeks I have been humbled by acts of selflessness and teamwork and impressed by demonstrations of patience and grace. I have not been surprised, however, as these attributes come from the hearts of our students, faculty, staff, and administration. They were present before these trying times, they will sustain us as we journey in unison through adversity, and they will persevere when today’s hardship is a distant memory.
With the good health of our students and families in the collective prayers of the Niagara University family, I leave you with the hopeful words of St. Vincent de Paul, “Fear not; calm will follow the storm, and perhaps soon.”
With every good wish,
Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.
From President, Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. (March 19, 2020)
Dear Niagara University Parents and Friends,
I begin by thanking you for being part of our Niagara family as it is a privilege to have your daughters, sons and family members studying with us at the university. We know, however, that this spring semester is not what we expected. This is usually a wonderful time of honors and celebration, but we share in the uncertainty and apprehension associated with the impact of the coronavirus in our local, national, and global communities.
I write to offer reassurance that Niagara University remains steadfast in our Catholic and Vincentian mission to educate, while emphasizing the value of compassion, prioritizing the health and well-being of our students and the university community, and fulfilling our civic responsibilities beyond Monteagle Ridge. The unpredictability of our times calls for thoughtful decision-making, clear and consistent communication, and a rallying of the human spirit that is a hallmark of the Niagara community. To support our goal of open communication, I want to share with you some information and provide reference to important resources that we will continue to use in the coming days and weeks.
Niagara University is implementing refined and long-standing emergency protocols that guide our actions and decisions in consultation with local, state and provincial, and federal health authorities. The adaptability of our plans allow for nimble response to day-to-day changes. We hold in the highest regard the need to maintain progress in education and in career fields, minimizing, where possible, disruption to milestone events, and adhering to the primacy of health and safety. You and your Niagara student can expect regular updates, and I ask for your trust that our decisions will be deliberate, thoughtful, and consistent with our mission-based values, established protocols, and the directions of health authorities.
We will continue using several methods of overlapping communication, including email, alert text messaging, social media, and our website. The Coronavirus Update website is our primary location for up-to-date messages, answers to frequently asked questions, and contact information for those who can answer specific questions, and it will continue to expand and further segment with targeted messages to specific audiences. I encourage you to visit this site regularly, as information from the Office of the Provost, the Office of Student Affairs, and financial aid, among others, is available for parents and members of our families.
Please know that while we are on spring break before moving to learning remotely, we are available and hope you will reach out if you have questions or concerns. Niagara students will hear more about important matters, such as advisement and registration, room selection, and licensure requirements as we move through the spring break.
As the Niagara University community has faced the challenges of the last few weeks, I have been humbled by the kindness of our students – your daughters and sons – as they reach out to assist others and offer their help in navigating these uncertain times. I have not been surprised, however, as these attributes come from their hearts and from their engagement with faculty and staff across the university. With the good health of your Niagara student and family in the collective prayers of the Niagara University family, I leave you with the hopeful words of St. Vincent de Paul, “Fear not; calm will follow the storm, and perhaps soon.”
With every good wish,
Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.
From President, Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. (March 13, 2020)
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. —1 Peter 5.7
Dear Members of the Niagara University Community,
These weeks and days have been challenging. We have had to make difficult decisions, informed by guidance from health organizations, to keep everyone healthy and safe as the coronavirus situation continues to change and evolve. I want to thank each of you for your patience, understanding, and flexibility as we work together to protect the well-being of our binational campus community and to ensure that our students complete their semester and graduate on time.
While we must be cautious, we also recognize that an engaged campus of students, faculty, staff and administrators is the hallmark of a Niagara University education, and we know this is what frames teaching, learning, and career pathways for our undergraduate and graduate students. The difference at Niagara is that we can be flexible and adaptive in the midst of a very dynamic environment, rooted in our mission and because of our thoughtful, caring community. For all of this, I thank you.
As our students leave for the extended spring break, I again encourage you to keep up-to-date through Niagara’s coronavirus webpage (www.niagara.edu and www.niagarau.ca). Click through on the homepage to our coronavirus link and you, along with parents, will be able to access critical and timely information as we proceed. On this site, we have linked key guidance documents, posted the latest communication to faculty and students, and provided new information through questions and answers. These include areas of concern regarding health, academic continuity, travel, university events, and student housing, to name a few.
These days are filled with anxiety and this affects each of us in different ways - the most important thing is that we take care of ourselves. The students’ spring break provides an opportunity to rejuvenate and to be ready when they return to fully engage in the comprehensive academic and campus experiences that bring our entire university together.
With every good wish,
James J. Maher, C.M.