By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — Two families who have supported Niagara University for several generations are being honored on Saturday at the school's President's Dinner.
Members of the Castellani family and the Brown family will be on hand at the banquet to receive the college's gratitude for their many years of support.
Receiving the St. Vincent de Paul Award at this year’s event will be the Castellani family as well as Harold and Rose Brown and their children. The award is conferred upon individuals “whose vision, accomplishments and good works reflect the life and ministry of St. Vincent de Paul.”
"In both instances these are large families," said Fr. James Levesque, president of the university. "I've come to know different ones in different ways."
The Castellani family was headed by Armand Castellani, co-founder of Tops Markets, who, with his wife, donated funds for the university's Castellani Art Gallery and its predecessor, the Buscaglia-Castellani Art Gallery.
Castellani was an NU board member and a friend of Levesque's and his son, Bob Castellani, now sits on the board of trustees while his sister works part time at the art gallery.
The purpose of the President’s Scholarship Dinner is to generate funds for scholarship assistance for qualified Niagara University students. During the 2011-2012 academic year, 98 percent of undergraduate students received scholarship assistance from the university that totaled $35,118,000. During that same period, 361 undergraduates received endowed scholarships totaling $1,059,912.
"We are honoring the families with a special award but they and their family and friends are coming to this dinner to help raise scholarship dollars for our students," said Levesque. By doing so, he said, "they help continue our mission."
Christopher Ross, a member of Niagara University’s Board of Trustees, and his wife, Mary, are serving as the dinner’s chair couple. The Rosses received undergraduate degrees from Niagara University in 1982.