by Lauren Merrick
Special to the Sentinel
On Tuesday, the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., president of Niagara University, announced the completion of "The Promise of Niagara ... the Next 150 Years," campaign - the single largest fundraising initiative of the institution's 156-year history.
"By reaching the $80 million mark, we have attained the goal of modernizing the university's campus, both physically and programmatically. This work will enhance the excellent Catholic and Vincentian, values-based education that future generations of students will receive at NU," Levesque said.
It was announced Monday that the John R. Oishei Foundation gave a $2 million pledge, allowing the NU campaign to surpass its goal.
Many friends supported NU during its capital campaign, which launched in May 2007. Overall, nearly 15,000 individuals pledged their support. NU received 14 gifts of $1 million or more and 237 gifts of at least $25,000.
The lead commitment and the largest gift of $10 million was made by Paychex founder and former Buffalo Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano for the construction of the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences, which is set to open in the fall of 2013.
"It's phenomenal that we raised $80 million-plus in what is a very high-stress economy," said Dr. Nancy McGlen, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "In spring of 2013 we should be pretty much done. ... Classes will start in fall of 2013 semester."
"The Promise of Niagara" allowed Niagara University to accomplish much more than the construction and establishment of one building. Since the campaign began, NU has constructed Bisgrove Hall and the Academic Complex to house the colleges of Business Administration and Education, which opened in the fall of 2007. Soon after, in December 2008, a new Vincentian residence opened. The Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre and the renovated William P. and Marie Leary Theatre opened in May 2010.
In addition to these constructions, alumnus William Gacioch and his family pledged a $2 million gift for the renovation of Meade Hall, which will be renamed the Gacioch Family Alumni and Admissions Center.
Due to the campaign's success, NU raised more than $9 million for financial assistance for graduate and undergraduate students by increasing existing scholarships and funding new ones.
Levesque thanked everyone involved during a press conference held at the Castellani Art Museum, including the current chairman of NU's advancement committee for the board of trustees, Larry Montani; Vice President Don Bielecki and his staff; the faculty of NU; and Robert Dwyer, who is chairman of the campaign.
"Although we have surpassed our goal, the work is only beginning. So many people have supported Niagara University throughout this campaign, and I am here to say that your investment in Niagara is making a positive impact on the students today, and it will continue to do so for years to come," Levesque said. "As you have pledged your commitment to Niagara University, we pledge our commitment to serve where we are needed ... whenever we are needed."
Niagara University Board of Trustees member Paul E. O'Leary Jr. congratulates the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, president of NU, on the completion of the college's $80 million capital campaign.