A $500,000 gift from Robert and Lynda Engel will be used to support the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Endowed Scholarship at Niagara University.
Robert Engel is a 1975 graduate of Niagara University and a member of its board of trustees.
The contribution brings the endowed scholarship fund over $1 million. The scholarship, established in 2013 to honor the 13-year service of Father Levesque, Niagara University's 25th president, helps offset tuition costs for NU students from rural communities in Western New York's eight counties.
"We are extremely grateful to Bob and Lynda for the numerous ways that they support Niagara University, our mission and our students," said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., NU president. "This gift is a tremendous manifestation of the Engels' abiding generosity, which is rooted in a commitment to provide young people with access to an excellent education that's framed by Catholic and Vincentian values."
A Buffalo native, Robert Engel spent the early part of his career in public accounting before transitioning into commercial banking, eventually becoming chief banking officer at HSBC Bank USA in New York. He moved to Denver in 2000 to join CoBank as president and chief operating officer, and was named CEO in 2006.
Robert Engel, who was honored on Friday by the Denver Business Journal as Corporate Citizen of the Year for 2016, is in the midst of his second eight-year term as a Niagara trustee. He was named chairman of the Regis University board of trustees earlier this week.
"We need to create future leaders that really do embody that spirit that goes far beyond where their professional vocation will take them and find a way to make this world a better place," Engel said during a reception held Friday morning in NU's Bisgrove Hall. "I still have an unbelievable faith in the potential of the young people in this world and, every time I get a chance to step onto this campus, I'm reminded of the future power of these people to really help us create a better world in so many different ways. Every student I meet makes me believe that."
"From the bottom of my heart, Bob and Lynda, I thank you for this generous gift, for your love of alma mater (and) for your respect for me," Levesque said. "It is truly of the Vincentian spirit that you have given, and so the best words I can conclude with are 'God bless you.' "
The inaugural recipients of the Levesque Scholarship were 2016 Niagara University graduate Sophie Connor and current seniors Benjamin Kaiser and Ryan Miller, who received assistance during the 2015-16 academic year. This year's recipients are Miller, junior Erica Wright and sophomores Emma Bow and Alexandra Lacey.
"Receiving this scholarship means the world to me," said Bow, a nursing major. "It means that I can help my mom out and give back to her. This scholarship means one less bill that she has to worry about paying - and working longer to do so."
Niagara University offers financial assistance to 99 percent of incoming and freshmen and transfer students, totaling more than $43 million.
To learn more about Niagara University, visit www.niagara.edu.