Forward Niagara

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We must reignite a campus beacon that promises opportunity, hope, and home to our campus community, as well as stability, leadership, and progress to communities beyond. In all of this, we must be resilient in our obligation to prioritize health and safety.

Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.

Dear Colleagues,

Months of planning and preparation have led to these first weeks of the academic calendar. The policies and protocols we have put into place are being implemented, and we are adjusting them as necessary to ensure the health and safety of the entire university community, as well as to address any adjustments in guidance or protocols of the Department of Health, state, or province. 

By now, you have received a considerable amount of information regarding our restart. That information is also available here and includes answers to questions, policies and protocols, and newly implemented procedures. 

As we continue into the semester, however, a few critical aspects of our restart plan bear repeating:

Daily Screening

Daily screening of students, full-time and part-time faculty, administrators, and full-time, part-time, and temporary staff (whether working on campus or from home) is key to our success. Screening will allow us to closely monitor the presence of the virus on campus and mitigate the risk of spreading it. Screening is fast, easy, and required of all members of the NU community. You have seen this in our “This is Vincentian” campaign and you will notice random checkpoints on campus each day. 

Please help us in this effort. If you are a supervisor, ask to see your staffs’ green badges; if you are faculty, ask your students for theirs. And please remind them to do their daily screening as you begin your work day, a meeting, or class—it is just a health and safety minute.

24-hour RN

An RN is on call 24 hours a day through Niagara’s Health Services for COVID-related medical questions and as a resource for students in quarantine and isolation. The RN can be reached at 716.263.5782. If your questions are not medical in nature, please use the information desk phone number/email (see below).

Masks and Social Distancing

Masks must be worn by employees and students at all times and regardless of the ability to remain 6 feet apart. This applies to classrooms, common work spaces, meeting rooms—outdoors and indoors.  Masks are not a substitute for social distancing. If you see someone without a mask, gently remind them of this policy. 


Classrooms are spaced and marked in keeping with social distancing requirements. We ask that all assist in keeping the chairs and/or tables “as is” in the classrooms and conference areas, and that we leave each room ready for the next class with chairs in place. Video conferencing technology is being used for streaming in the highly used classrooms—most classrooms are currently utilizing temporary equipment that will be replaced with permanently installed equipment (hopefully next week) and integrated into the room's controls. This permanent equipment includes pan/zoom HD cameras and multiple microphones placed in the ceiling.


AReveryware signage provides key safety instructions in numerous locations around campus, such as elevators, hallways, stairs, cafeterias, kitchens, and other common areas. Scanning this signage will give you the most up-to-date information regarding policies, procedures, and distancing. If you haven’t already, please download the AReveryware app here:

Please note that if you downloaded the app before Aug. 15, you will need to update it. For Apple users, just choose “update” in the Apple store. For those with Androids, uninstall the app currently on your phone and download the new one.

Forward Niagara Information Desk

To help all of us continually navigate the restart policies and procedures, we have established a Forward Niagara Information Desk. Call 716.385.1967 Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., or email with any questions and substantive concerns (e.g.; a large gathering of people who are not wearing face masks or practicing social distancing) that you may have regarding COVID-19 protocol.

Surveillance Testing of Students

In addition to testing symptomatic students, beginning this week on the Lewiston campus, we are initiating our surveillance testing program. We will randomly pull 4% of our undergraduate resident and commuter student population (110 students) each week to be tested. Once pulled and tested, those students will not be eligible for testing during the following week, but will be put back in the pool for testing the week after that.

We are encouraged by how everyone has responded to protect the health and safety of our entire NU community, and thank you for your continued compliance to the “Forward Niagara” policies and procedures as the semester progresses.  

We also send a debt of gratitude to the many individuals who worked tirelessly since March and throughout the summer on the restart and to the university community as we navigate these early days of the fall semester and work together, with compassion, to address needs as they arise.

As always,

Debra A. Colley, Ph.D.             

Timothy O. Ireland, Ph.D.

A Letter from the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M. — President of Niagara University

"Trials bear the special mark of God's goodness"
St. Vincent de Paul, III:120

Dear members of the Niagara University community,

The spring semester at Niagara University (in Lewiston and in Vaughan, Ontario) and on campuses across the world, was one of unprecedented change due to the impact of COVID-19. During this time of planning, we look to our Catholic and Vincentian heritage to help us answer the Vincentian question-- “What must be done?” We must sustain our core mission and emphasize our distinction as a place of connection, sharing, and scholarship that depends on the unique interrelationships fostered by a campus-based experience. We must reignite a campus beacon that promises opportunity, hope, and home to our campus community, as well as stability, leadership, and progress to communities beyond. In all of this, we must be resilient in our obligation to prioritize health and safety.

Reopening institutions of higher education in a predominately face-to-face format is, and must remain, a priority regionally and statewide. Now, more than ever, the world needs critical, compassionate thinkers, educated professionals and researchers, and values-based decision-makers. We need to ensure full access and equity for all members of our community, particularly those most in need, who are experiencing a profound divide that has become even more pronounced as a result of the pandemic.

As a Catholic and Vincentian university, our focus on academic excellence, student engagement, and preparing global citizens of the world is unwavering. Niagara University’s values and mission anchor and will elevate our students into much needed leadership roles. We contribute to the community in pursuit of social justice, we drive change through the impactful service of our students, and we add significantly to the economic foundation of the region. A reopened, reimagined, and engaged Niagara University does this and so much more.

Throughout these extraordinary times, I remain humbled by the kindness of our entire community. I am proud of our students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni for their inspiring innovation, commitment to others, and engagement within the broader community. We have answered the call to live the Vincentian mission. As we come together this fall, there will be new expectations in terms of community norms and personal responsibility. My expectation is that every member of the Niagara family willingly adjusts their behavior to maintain the health and safety of our community.

On behalf of the university community, I thank the members of the Restart Implementation Task Force for their work. Collectively, we will lead Niagara’s next phase in the history of our binational university and continue to ensure the transformational experience and impact of our graduates. With guidance from leading health organizations and elected officials, the health and safety of the Niagara community are fully integrated into all components of the restart plan. It is with confidence and purpose, therefore, that we welcome our new and returning students back to a safe and resilient campus in fall 2020.

With hope and prayer for the Niagara community,
James J. Maher, C.M.

Click Here to Complete Your Daily Health Screening