Niagara University held a ceremonial opening and blessing of the Gacioch Family Alumni and Admissions Center Tuesday morning.
The recently renovated hub for admissions and alumni engagement, formerly Meade Hall, was made possible by a $2 million gift from William Gacioch, a 1961 Niagara University graduate. It has been designed so that prospective students and their families have the opportunity to learn the strengths of the academic programs and feel the heritage of Niagara alive in the building.
Work was undertaken on the Gacioch Center, located on the southwest edge of campus, near the intersection of Hyde Park Boulevard and the Robert Moses Parkway, during the summer of 2013. It became the permanent home of Niagara University's offices of admissions, communications and institutional advancement last fall.
In February 2012, Gacioch and his family pledged to support the renovation of Meade Hall, which served as the residence of the university's Vincentian priests and brothers for more than 80 years before a new home was constructed for the community in 2008. The gift from the Gacioch family was part of Niagara University's $83 million capital campaign, "The Promise of Niagara...The next 150 years," which was completed in April 2012.
Along with Gacioch and his family, others present for the blessing and ceremonial ribbon-cutting included the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president; the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., the former NU president, now president emeritus, who oversaw the university's capital campaign; Pamela R. Jacobs-Vogt, a trustee of Niagara University; as well as numerous students and faculty members.
"We are forever grateful to the Gaciochs for the extraordinary generosity that they have shown to Niagara University through the years," Maher said. "Even though we are nearly 55 years removed from when Bill first stepped foot on our campus, he has never forgotten where his journey started. We know that the development of this mission-critical facility is very personal to him, and we are pleased that it will ensure the Gacioch family's legacy on Monteagle Ridge.
"The gift from Bill, Nancy and the entire Gacioch family has transformed the former Meade Hall, a place of hospitality for the members of the Vincentian community, into the Gacioch Family Center, a place of Vincentian hospitality for students, alumni and all members of our university family."
As a freshman in 1957, Gacioch knew that he could only afford his first year at Niagara, so he met with the Rev. Edward Burke, C.M., to discuss his financial options. Gacioch was selected to participate in the university's newly developed work-study program. He was assigned to Meade Hall, the residence of the Vincentians, where he waited tables and manned the switchboard for four years.
"My parents believed in good schools, and my mother encouraged me to look at Niagara even though we didn't have the money," Gacioch said. "Father Burke was very instrumental to my education, and my experience working in Meade Hall had a direct impact on who I am today."
Gacioch said he is appreciative of this work-study assistance, and also of the education he received while attending Niagara. Since graduating, he has served the university in a number of ways, including membership on the board of trustees. He contributed $1 million in 1999 toward the renovation of St. Vincent's Hall.
"Niagara was critical in helping me realize what I could do and how to do it, and guided me in the right direction," Gacioch said. "I continue to be very impressed with every aspect of Niagara - the quality of the alumni, the academics and the current students. I believe in giving back to help others and, through this gift, our entire family is making an investment in Niagara."
Niagara University presented Gacioch with an honorary degree in 2007 and the university's prestigious Dunleavy Award in 2011. Bill and his wife, Nancy, were presented with the Father John J. Lynch Award in 2000, and the Gacioch family was honored with the St. Vincent de Paul Award at the Niagara University President's Dinner in 2010.
Gacioch is currently the chairman and CEO of National Property Management Associates Inc. Gacioch's son, Michael, serves as president while his son, David, is senior vice president of the IT department. Bill's daughter, Katherine Hannon, is senior vice president of human relations.
For more than 80 years, Meade Hall served as the residence of the Vincentian priests and brothers who staffed the university. It was originally called Our Lady of Angels Faculty House because it housed the faculty of the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels. The three-story building was rededicated in 1967 in honor of the Rev. Francis L. Meade, C.M. (1894-1958), who served from 1947-57 as the 16th president of the university.
And while the name of the facility changed, its heritage has been preserved. Visitors to the Gacioch Center are welcomed by a plaque denoting the contributions of Father Meade, while the building's lobby area is named in honor of the Rev. Michael J. Flannery, C.M., a former prefect and spiritual adviser at NU who also taught math, history and religion. The small chapel in the Gacioch Center also has been restored.
Earlier in the day, Gacioch hosted an entrepreneurship workshop with NU students, during which he discussed his experience, as well as the importance of determination, the ability to dream and the value of an open mind.
"Over the past two years as a work-study student, I've built relationships with Niagara University staff and students that have shaped me into the young woman I would like to become," said junior Alexis Tymorek. "I was touched to discover that Mr. Gacioch had been a work-study student as well. He serves as an inspiration to me personally, as I am an aspiring business professional working toward paying for my own college education."
To learn more about Niagara University, visit www.niagara.edu.