Niagara Gazette

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December 22, 2013

TOP STORIES (9): Year of big changes at Niagara University

Niagara Gazette — What a year it’s been for Niagara University.

It all started late January, when the Lewiston school called a press conference, citing  a “major announcement concerning the future of the university.” A day later, the Castellani Art Center filled with school officials and friends to hear 13-year President the Rev. Joseph Levesque announce he would step down from his position.

Levesque acknowledged his age and health concerns in his announcement that day, inviting the school to bring in “new blood” to lead the school forward. He said he’d be staying with the school in the newly created president emeritus position.

“I never planned on being president,” he said following his bombshell announcement. “It was never in my dreams. The fact that I could be president of a place I’ve loved since I came here in (1970) to give leadership and take the university’s ideas and my ideas and make them real. You can make some things happen and that excites me.”

New blood arrived on campus two months later, when the same space once again filled with important folks to hear the Rev. James Maher would replace Levesque in his position at the beginning of August, complete with a transition period.

Maher, who agreed to join Niagara from a leadership position at St. John’s University, recalled at his introduction in March how he’d spent time in Lewiston while his brother, the Rev. John Maher, worked to complete his college degree at Niagara in 1976.

With leadership changes looming, a different wrinkle developed when Levesque decided he’d change his mind, at least temporarily, about his new position. He was approached by St. John’s, Maher’s former employer, to serve as interim president while the New Jersey campus searched for its next permanent president. 

Levesque accepted and left Niagara Aug. 1, temporarily changing Maher’s plan for transition.

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