Niagara University, Niagara Catholic Jr./Sr. High School and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo held a signing ceremony today to enter into a formal memorandum of understanding.
The MOU was signed by the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University; Judith Nolan Powell, chair of the Niagara Catholic board of trustees; and the Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo. The signing took place in Bisgrove Hall on the Niagara University campus.
The document details several collaborative initiatives among the institutions, including the Hospitality and Tourism Academy at Niagara Catholic, which will begin operation this coming September.
"This memorandum of understanding takes the partnership to a whole new level, and will serve to strengthen our academic offerings, stimulate enrollment and ensure Catholic education's viability at the Niagara frontier," Nolan Powell said.
The agreement intends to promote "A University School Collaboration Model" in which the partners work together to create a pathway of new opportunities and economic development for the underserved in Niagara Falls. This "7-16" model is one that promotes Catholic education by sharing resources and widening the pipeline to Catholic higher education. In doing so, Niagara University will remain true to its Vincentian mission of promoting Catholic education at all levels of learning and serving the needs of the poor.
"Niagara University has a longstanding history of collaboration with the Diocese of Buffalo and Niagara Catholic High School," Maher said. "Collectively, we recognize and celebrate the various ways in which this relationship has been of true service to each other's institution of Catholic education and, therefore, a service to the greater community - especially Niagara Falls. We are in agreement that this collaboration will serve to create an environment that will sustain and promote a vibrant Catholic education in Niagara Falls."
The overall components of the collaboration states Niagara University and Niagara Catholic High School will:
•Apply the Vincentian mission in defining Catholic education, sharing faith formation and assisting in service to those most in need.
•Expand curricular choices though the use of academic, athletic and cultural facilities at the university, and continue a focus on college preparation through courses offered in the NUSTEP program.
•Create a new international focus at the high school, extending high school opportunities and experiences within a global and increasingly diverse world.
•Further develop NU's Hospitality and Tourism Academy as a central career focus at NCHS to include industry-oriented programming, internships and workforce incentives in the world's single largest industry.
•Develop comprehensive professional development strategies that will provide powerful incentives in the retention of quality teachers at NCHS.
•Align messaging of collaboration between NCHS and NU.
•Engage local and regional business, public and private education, community members and organizations, NCHS alumni in the momentum for significant change and renewal.
"The continued collaboration among Niagara Catholic High School, Niagara University and the Diocese of Buffalo reflects our strong commitment to Catholic education in Niagara Falls and Niagara County, from pre-K through college," Malone said. "The expertise of Niagara University provides a vital link for the professional development of the Niagara Catholic faculty, which will benefit our students in many ways.
"From an academic standpoint, exposure to the university's vibrant and internationally renowned degree programs opens up a whole new world for our high school students. I am especially excited to see the establishment of the Hospitality Academy at Niagara Catholic, providing students a seamless transition into NU's hospitality degree program, and then on to internships and future career opportunities in the tourism industry.
"Catholic schools are growing stronger in Niagara Falls and Niagara County, and I encourage all parents of school-age children to take a very close look at the options available in our excellent Catholic schools."
"Niagara University and Niagara Catholic have been working together over this past year to develop this already strong relationship into one that will have a direct impact on students grades 7 to grade 16 for the future," said Ronald K. Buggs, president/principal at Niagara Catholic. "We have developed a real educational partnership, one that will benefit youth and young adults, as well as the community, well into the future."
Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management joined with Niagara Catholic to establish a Hospitality and Tourism Academy at NC. The program, when it commences this fall, will offer students the ability to obtain an understanding of the profession, gain real-world experience and enjoy the ability to graduate from high school with up to one year of college course work completed.
Additionally, NU has worked with the NC board of trustees on several issues related to the P-16 continuum of Catholic education, attracting international students to both campuses, the engagement of stakeholders in strengthening Catholic education in the community, and on the academic and fiscal vitality of both the middle and high schools.
To learn more about Niagara Catholic, go to www.niagaracatholic.org.
The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo can be found online atwww.buffalodiocese.org.
For more information on Niagara University, visit www.niagara.edu.