Fall 2020 Updates

As we all continue to navigate the environment that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is our intent to put your minds at ease about the educational experience that awaits you at Niagara University.

This series of communications from our president, the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., will provide you with a wealth of information pertaining to the steps we’re taking to prepare for the safe reopening of our campus.

We fully intend to deliver outstanding in-person instruction to new and returning students for the fall 2020 semester.

The health and safety of our students will always be our top priority and we are instituting guidelines to reopen in accordance with policies and procedures established by leading health experts. In addition, through my involvement with the Restart Higher Education Task Group organized by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, I am engaged in numerous high-level discussions on the best ways to safely reopen college campuses.

You have come to know through your college search process that Niagara’s mission is driven by a deep engagement with students throughout every part of the campus experience. This is greatly enhanced by the intellectual interactions in the classroom, incredible research opportunities with faculty members, and unique academic and co-curricular events and activities. This drives The Power of Niagara University, and we intend to continue that great legacy on our campus this fall.

I look forward to soon sharing more information about the fall semester on Monteagle Ridge.

In the meantime, additional information on activating your student account, depositing, and registering for Summer Orientation can be found at next.niagara.edu. Should you have any questions, I invite you to contact your admissions counselor or submit your comments through a portal we’ve created for new Niagara families at www.niagara.edu/AskNU.

As I mentioned in my previous message, we expect a full reopening of our beautiful campus at the end of August. We are working closely with government officials, including the New York State Department of Health, to identify and implement all public health requirements to protect the safety and health of the university community – our students, faculty, staff, and administration.

Although best practices continue to evolve at this time, we have plans in place to offer numerous hand-sanitizing stations across campus; low-density classes that are conducive to maintaining appropriate social distancing; and the frequent cleaning and sanitizing of shared learning spaces. In addition, we are prepared to implement precautionary measures such as wearing masks, screening for fevers, and contact tracing.

One of the reasons that you have chosen NU is for our 170-acre, low-density campus in a serene suburban setting, a location that also presents us with a significant advantage as we prepare to reopen. It’s important to note that our commitment to small class sizes has prepared us well for meeting even the most stringent public health requirements. Last fall, for example, a majority (60%) of our undergraduate classes enrolled fewer than 20 students, and 85% of our course offerings had fewer than 30 students per class. 

Moreover, our provost and faculty are developing scenarios to accommodate further social distancing, if necessary, such as offering classes earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon and into the evening. Saturday and hybrid (a combination of face-to-face and online) offerings could enter the equation, but are not part of our current plans for the fall of 2020. True to the Niagara experience, we will do whatever we can, while abiding by safety protocols, to preserve in-person engagement.

Academic advisement is also a distinguishing feature of the Niagara experience and the process for fall registration will soon occur. We will get our new first-year students off to a great start, as graduating in four years is the expected outcome at Niagara University – and that has not changed.

Please never hesitate to connect with your dedicated admissions counselor if you have any questions or concerns. You are also welcome to submit comments through an online portal we created for our new Niagara family members at www.niagara.edu/AskNU.

Data tells us that 83% of freshman residents regularly participate in high-impact co-curricular activities, compared to 57% of commuters. As we say at NU, where you live will change your life.

Our summer and fall plans are well underway for in-person teaching and learning, research and laboratory opportunities with our faculty, and students living in our residence halls. To ensure the safety of everyone, we are closely following the New York state guidelines set forth by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and implementing best practices prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Our Office of Residence Life is diligently preparing for your arrival, and working to integrate both practical and state-of-the-art measures to ensure the health and safety of every member of our campus community:

  • Expanding availability of single rooms.
  • Enhancing the extent and frequency of cleaning, especially for high-touch surfaces.
  • Increasing the availability of soap and hand sanitizer.
  • Becoming the first college or university in the country to provide students with Spry Pure virus-blocking pillows.
  • Instituting protocols for routine health monitoring, symptom identification, and rapid intervention.
  • Reducing density and capacity of communal spaces (e.g., restrooms, lounges, etc.).
  • Using face masks and testing one-way travel in common spaces (e.g., corridors, stairwells, etc.).
  • Limiting capacity in elevators.
  • Developing an educational campaign on health and wellness practices.
  • Establishing creative social and educational programming that promotes connection and involvement while prioritizing health and safety.
  • Making adjustments to fall move-in to promote social distancing.

Similarly, our dining areas will undergo the following changes:

  • Adjusting the dining schedule and physical layout of these areas to reduce capacity and promote social distancing.
  • Enhancing the extent and frequency of cleaning, especially for high-touch surfaces.
  • Changing food stations from self-serve to full-serve.
  • Offering options for takeout meals.

I hope you are finding my ongoing messages beneficial to you during this unprecedented time. As always, please let us know whatever is on your mind by visiting www.niagara.edu/AskNU.

As much as we tout the outstanding quality of our academics and faculty, a central component of the student experience at Niagara University occurs when class is not in session. There are more than 100 clubs, activities, and honor societies from which to partake – and even if we somehow don’t have something you’re looking for, you can create it. I urge you to get involved. Step into the full experience.

We are excited to reopen our world-class recreational facilities, including the Gallagher Center, Kiernan Recreation Center, Esports Lounge, Dwyer Ice Arena, and Castellani Art Museum. The names of these buildings may not mean much to you now, but mark my words, they will soon become the backdrops for unforgettable memories and the formation of lifelong friends.

Given that our world has changed quite a bit over the last few months, we are making the necessary arrangements to ensure that student life remains as vibrant and safe as ever:

  • Making social and educational programming modifications to reduce capacity and encourage social distancing.
  • Expanding service hours to accommodate reduced capacity for cardiovascular and strength-training fitness spaces.
  • Enhancing the extent and frequency of cleaning, especially for high-touch surfaces.
  • Adjusting our intramural and club sport programs with a goal of continuing competition while prioritizing participant health and safety.

We will be ready to have our beautiful campus come to life with the return of our students, faculty, and staff.

Among the many reasons that you and your family have chosen Niagara University is our outstanding 97% job placement rate. 

A major contributing factor to the success of our students and young alumni is the ongoing support of our Office of Career Services. This team will engage you early in your academic career to help you establish your long-term goals, connect with employers and alumni, obtain internships, and get hired!

Career Services hosts more than 300 employers on campus each academic year that include full- and part-time employment events, classroom presentations, practice interviews, and on-campus recruiting.

My intent in writing to you today is to let you know that, despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to all of us, we are fully committed to engaging you this fall in opportunities that encourage exploration and action that lead to success after graduation. Below is what we have planned, while always being mindful of the most stringent health and safety procedures:

  • Provide guidance and support during first-semester NUB presentations.
  • Facilitate individual Pathways program meetings, both in-person and remotely.
  • Collaborate with faculty to establish a robust professional skills workshop schedule.
  • Host industry-specific employer panels that feature partners and alumni.
  • Plan and facilitate employer career events that encourage networking and promote internship/employment opportunities.
  • Partner with the Office of Alumni Engagement to host webinars featuring successful Niagara University graduates in a variety of industries.
  • Engage with employers to establish hybrid internship offerings.
  • Connect students with employment opportunities through Handshake: The Get Hired Portal.

Niagara University is steadfastly committed to further ingraining the Pathways program, our holistic approach to career and professional development, into the fabric of our living-learning environment. Each of the initiatives listed above stem from that commitment to this innovative, hallmark program.

I hope that this information is reassuring to you as you prepare to celebrate your high school achievements and begin thinking about your college journey. Once again, should you have any questions related to how Career Services will prepare you for postgraduate success or anything else Niagara-related, please connect with your admissions counselor or visit www.niagara.edu/AskNU.