Founded by the Vincentian Community in 1856, Niagara University is a private university with a strong, values-based mission delivered through the Catholic Intellectual tradition. Its four academic divisions include the Faculties of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, and Hospitality and Tourism Management. With its main campus located on the Niagara River overlooking the Province of Ontario, Canada, the university is located at the northern limits of the City of Niagara Falls, N.Y., about four miles from the world-famous cataracts. More than 4,200 students are enrolled in its undergraduate and graduate programs.
Nov. 21, 1856, is generally regarded as the birthdate of Niagara University. On that day, six seminary students, accompanied by two faculty members, moved from the residence of the Most Rev. John Timon, C.M., the first bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, into a vacated orphan home for boys on Best Street in Buffalo. The six-acre site, however, was less than ideal, and so the two Vincentian faculty members, Fathers John J. Lynch and John Monaghan, immediately began a search for a more ideal setting for the seminary.
During a visit to the Village of Suspension Bridge (now Niagara Falls) that same winter, they learned that the 100-acre Vedder farm, located a few miles north on Monteagle Ridge, was for sale. Negotiations ensued, and on Feb. 23, 1857, an agreement was reached for purchase of the property. Less than two months later, Father Lynch purchased the adjoining 200-acre DeVeaux farm complete with a barn and the two-story tavern known as The Half-Way House. On May 1, 1857, 23 weeks after its founding, the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels moved from Buffalo to its new home on Monteagle Ridge.
The barroom and bowling alley in The Half-Way House (named for its location between Suspension Bridge and Lewiston) became the sacristy and chapel, respectively. The attic, and later the barn loft, provided dormitory facilities. The fall of 1857 saw enrollment increase from six to 24 students. The following year it rose to 80, resulting in expansion of existing facilities. The year 1859 also saw Father Lynch, the university's co-founder with Bishop Timon, appointed coadjutor bishop of Toronto, Ontario.
In response to the growing number of collegians and seminarians, a new building was constructed in 1862 to serve as the administration-seminary building. The following year, on April 20, 1863, the New York State Legislature granted a charter empowering the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels to confer degrees upon its graduates.
Disaster stuck on Dec. 5, 1864, when fire destroyed the administration-seminary building. As a result, the school was forced to close. Reconstruction began in April of 1865 and the school reopened in September of that year.
On the occasion of Niagara's 25th anniversary on Nov. 21, 1881, Bishop Stephen V. Ryan, C.M., provincial superior of the American Vincentians at the time of his appointment as the second bishop of Buffalo, congratulated the college and seminary, which had graduated 300 priests, 25 doctors, 47 lawyers, 40 professors, 15 newspaper editors, 25 brokers, 245 merchants, many members of the Legislature, and hundreds in other walks of life.
Marcus Brown is credited with rescuing Niagara University from being foreclosed on a $3,000 loan. John B. Stranges recounted the story in the Rainbow Never Fades: Niagara University 1856-2006.
Niagara University received Ministerial Consent from the Province to offer a graduate program in Educational Leadership from approved sites within Ontario.
Niagara University receives consent from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and accreditation from the Ontario College of Teachers to deliver a new Bachelor of Professional Studies in Education program in the Province of Ontario.
On January 18, 2019, Niagara University consolidated its program offerings in Ontario and established a new site in Vaughan. From this new site graduate and post-baccalaureate programs are offered from the Faculties of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, and Education. At the time of its opening, Niagara University had more than 300 Ontario students registered for and attending classes in Vaughan.
On Aug. 7, 1883, New York Gov. Grover Cleveland signed the documents that erected the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels into Niagara University, though the name of the seminary was preserved. The seminary remained at Niagara until 1961, when it was moved to Albany. It has since closed.
Over the years, Niagara has evolved into a comprehensive university, offering more than 50 professional and career-oriented programs for its 3,300-plus undergraduates. More than 950 graduate students are enrolled in a variety of programs in the College of Education and in master's programs in business, criminal justice and interdisciplinary studies.
True to the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Vincentian Community and universal patron of charitable works, Niagara maintains a comprehensive, academically grounded and career-oriented community service program. Annually, Niagara University students contribute more than 50,000 hours to the local neighborhoods through their community service and through the service learning experiences of our university-wide IMPACT program.
IMPACT builds confidence, clarity of direction and a heightened sense of purpose by providing NU students with career preparation through service, and connects students to service opportunities in which they can utilize the skills and knowledge that they learn in the classroom and apply them in a hands-on, real-world setting. NU students are active in almost 300 social service and community agencies in Western New York and southern Ontario.
Service learning promotes the mission of Niagara University by enhancing students' academic skills and life-long learning, by promoting and working towards social change, and by attempting to instill in students the value of transformative service to others.
In January 2019, the University completed renovation of its new site. Located in the heart of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) in the base of Expo Tower Two, Niagara University is situated one block east of the TTC at the corner of Hwy 7 and Maplecrete. With more than 1145 square metres of space the site includes seven state-of-the-art classrooms, four soft-walled adjoining rooms for a comfortable learning environment, offices for faculty and administration, spacious student lounge areas, and a small conference room. Only a ten minute walk from the new TTC subway station, and with the rapid east/west bus stopping directly in front of the site, the university is easily accessible by road and rail.
Niagara competes in 18 Division I NCAA sports as a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Its men's hockey team plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association. Among Niagara's sports legends are National Basketball Association Hall of Fame member Calvin Murphy, former Utah Jazz coach and president Frank Layden, former New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown and the late Larry Costello, former coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.