The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, was named a 2015 Adult Honoree by the Trey Whitfield Foundation during the organization's 23rd annual awards dinner, which was held July 17 in Brooklyn.
The Trey Whitfield Foundation Inc. was founded in 1989 to commemorate the life and spirit of Trey Whitfield, a young student-athlete from Brooklyn who died tragically just prior to his high school graduation. In his memory, the foundation pursues "his dream that everyone, regardless of ethnic background, has equal access to the educational opportunities that they need to reach their potential in life."
Other 2015 honorees included Dr. Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference; Vy Higginsen, founder of the MAMA Foundation for the Arts; Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna; Pettis Norman, former NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers; philanthropist Anne Roome; Karl Nelson, former offensive tackle for the New York Giants; Walter Jones, retired professional basketball player; and Melinda Murray, founder of the Dominic A. Murray 21 Memorial Foundation, among others.
Maher, in his acceptance remarks, reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring higher education, specifically at Niagara University, will be accessible and affordable to young people as they pursue their dreams and live the mission exemplified through the foundation and its honorees.
"From Clifton Davis and Pam Oliver to the foundation's board of trustees and tonight's honorees, it's humbling to be in the presence of so many people who have shown so much dedication to serving gifted young people in need," Maher said. "At Niagara University, we strive to fulfill the mission of St. Vincent de Paul by providing access to education. We maintain that all young people can attain their God-given potential if they find someone who helps them and cares for them - regardless of their racial, cultural or socioeconomic background."
Indeed, Maher has made access and affordability to excellent education hallmarks of his Niagara University presidency. During the 2013-14 academic year, 98 percent of undergraduate students at NU received scholarship assistance from the university totaling nearly $40 million.
Niagara also continues to institute new scholarships, including one established in January by the Vincentian community that is intended for students who demonstrated outstanding participation in service activities in high school.
Niagara's efforts to deliver the greatest value for a student's educational dollar were recently praised by Money magazine when the university was Buffalo-Niagara's highest-ranked private institution in the publication's "2015 Best Colleges" rankings.
Earlier Friday, Maher and Dr. Debra Colley, dean of the College of Education, visited Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn to explore partnership opportunities between the institutions.
Additional information on the Trey Whitfield Foundation Inc. is available at www.treywhitfieldfoundation.org.
To learn more about Niagara University, visit www.niagara.edu.