Rev. James Maher, C.M. named President of Niagara University

Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., vice president for mission and student services was named the 26th President of Niagara University on March 13.

Maher has been tenured at St. John’s since 1990, serving as campus minister to the department of athletics, vice president of University ministry, vice president of student affairs and executive director of the Vincentian Institute for Social Action until being appointed vice president for mission and student services in 2011.

“It will be tough [to leave St. John’s],” Maher said.

“I’m very grateful to Father Harrington, the Board of Trustees and all the people I have worked with because I’m incredibly well-prepared for this opportunity. There’s great sadness in leaving, but there’s great excitement about what lies ahead.”

Maher will be replacing current Niagara President Rev. Joesph L. Levesque, C.M. on Aug. 1. Levesque announced in January that he would resign at the end of the current academic year.

Maher’s first objective when he takes office in August is to continue the administrative work that Levesque has already begun.

“The first order of business is to sort of build on what he’s [Levesque] established,” Maher said.

“He’s built terrific academic programs, hired a terrific senior team, deans and faculty.”

However, Maher has a two-fold, long-term vision for Niagara that he hopes to achieve in the coming years that involves broadening both a local and global influence.

“How do we deepen the mission in terms of serving the larger community that lives in poverty and being able to attract more students that come to Niagara both nationally and internationally,” Maher explained.

Maher was explicit in detailing his ambitions towards focusing a great deal of his future efforts on helping underprivileged prospective students.

He expressed his desire to follow in St. Vincent DePaul’s footsteps in “building a bridge to the world of the poor.”

“I think as a Vincentian institution, that’s what we have to really be focused on,” Maher explained.

“How can we build a bridge to the world of the poor so that there is traffic both ways? Part of it is done by providing [academic] access to students who may not have access because of their economic status.”

Maher’s visions for the future of Niagara are similar to the types of aspirations that St. John’s had in the early 90’s when he began his tenure at the University.

He highlighted the institution’s ability to provide opportunities to students of low economic standing, citing it as the “marvel and miracle of St. John’s.”

When asked if he would ever be open to returning to St. John’s, Maher said that “it wouldn’t be up to me.”

Whether he returns to the University or not, St. John’s has left an indelible mark on Maher.

“I’ll always take the experience I’ve had here at St. John’s with me, and it’ll help make me a better President.”