Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua was joined by Niagara University president Fr. James J. Maher and some of its students for the announcement of the arrival of the school in the City of Vaughan. Photo courtesy City of Vaughan

Niagara University falls for opportunity in Vaughan

By 
  • February 28, 2019

Students in Southern Ontario have another option for a post-secondary Catholic education with the expansion of Niagara University to Vaughan, Ont.

The private Catholic institution based in Lewiston, N.Y., which has offered courses in Ontario since 1984, opened its new campus north of Toronto on Jan. 21. It will offer programs in Ontario Teacher Certification and Master of Science in Education Leadership.

The Vaughan campus has welcomed more than 300 students, in addition to faculty and administrative staff. 

“It’s my first day at Niagara University in Vaughan so I am very excited,” said 24-year-old  student Arianna Commella at the grand opening. “Growing up and being born in Vaughan, to be able to call Niagara University my second home is really great.”

Niagara University was founded in 1856 by the Vincentian Community in Lewiston, outside of Buffalo, NY. It is a private, liberal arts university rooted in Catholic values. The institution is still run by the Vincentian fathers. 

“I am excited to expand our Niagara University in Ontario program here to the City of Vaughan as we work within this community to mentor a new generation of compassionate, dedicated and successful graduates into the workplace,” said Niagara University president Fr. James J. Maher in a press statement. 

Vaughan mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua said that, being formed in a Catholic University himself, he believes Catholic virtues help make a great university. He received a Master’s degree in Christian tradition at Fordham University, a Jesuit university in New York City.

“I understand how important it is for Fr. (Maher) to be true to his Catholic values and they are very present at Niagara University,” he said. “It’s really about humility, working hard, being there for the greater good and servant leadership.” He said those attributes “will provide a great foundation for our future teachers.”

For student Alexander Cannata, a Catholic university in Vaughan is a perfect fit.

“This environment fits into what I want to do — my ideas, my morals and my ethics,” said 23-year-old Vaughan resident. 

“The curriculum is amazing, the courses are amazing, and the professors do an excellent job of creating a very open environment. They let you know that you’re not alone.”

The university project is part of a City of Vaughan initiative to develop its downtown core. In 2012, the city announced plans to build office buildings, condominiums, cultural spaces and green spaces within a 179-hectare property. Fourteen months ago, the Toronto Transit Commission opened an expanded subway line that includes a station at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, which is next to the Niagara U campus.

Bevilacqua had been in talks with the university for about a year. 

“Vaughan has made history and Niagara (University) has made history by attracting the very first ever university to our city and to York Region,” he said. 

“Education is extremely important to the formation of individuals... with the arrival of Niagara University to the City of Vaughan, we’ve secured a very important investment in our community.” 


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