When the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., was appointed as the 26th president of Niagara University, he made it an immediate priority to establish a worldwide presence for the Catholic and Vincentian institution.
His escalating frequent flyer miles indicate he is a man of action.
One month prior to being formally installed as NU's president, Maher visited Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam to conduct a "listening tour" with prospective partners in those countries. He returned to the latter two last month as part of a 13-day excursion during which he signed international memorandums of understanding with six Asian colleges and universities. Maher blogged throughout the trip as a way to keep the Niagara University community informed of his progress.
The blog can be viewed at www.niagara.edu/father-maher-in-asia.
A memorandum of understanding is a statement of goodwill between universities that demonstrates strong interest to form a partnership with another academic institution to generate reciprocal benefits.
The academic exchange agreements were signed by Maher and administrators from the following institutions:
Accompanied by Dr. Hung Le, Niagara University's vice president for international relations, Maher also met with several high-ranking religious and political leaders in Asia, including Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man and Auxiliary Bishop Pierre Van Kham Nguyen.
Cardinal Pham Minh Man was part of the conclave that selected Pope Francis last spring.
Father Kham serves as deputy secretary general of the Vietnam Bishops' Conference and head of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communication.
"It was a great joy to be received by His Excellency Cardinal Man and Auxiliary Bishop Peter Nguyen in Ho Chi Minh City," Maher said. "On behalf of Niagara University, we look forward to continue to build our relationship to address issues of education and poverty."
Maher also spent time with Vice Minister Tran Anh Tuan, Ph.D., to discuss the training of current and future Vietnamese civil servants. It was a conversation that started in late-October, when the Ministry of Home Affairs in Vietnam sent 22 of its delegates to Niagara University to participate in a management development program on public administration reform.
This past June, Niagara University's board of trustees approved the creation of an office of international relations as a way to provide a central point of contact for international students studying at Niagara, and domestic students seeking global experiences.
Maher commenced his term as president of Niagara University on Aug. 1.
To learn more about NU's office of international relations, call 716-286-8360 or visit www.niagara.edu/oir.