Rev. James J. Maher, C.M.
The President’s revised executive order on foreign travel from certain countries may continue to be a detriment to those who have come to the United States under legal circumstances.
At Niagara University, a regional and global institution, we currently have students and faculty from 38 countries. It should come as no surprise that we stand in solidarity with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities and numerous other organizations which released statements questioning the effects of the order signed by President Trump.
Our position is founded on three basic pillars. First; on a cultural-educational front, the contributions of international students and faculty are in keeping with our vision to prepare global citizens of the world. Through their presence and scholarship, they add value to the learning experiences at our campus. They bring a global perspective to the university and the academic environment it provides.
Second; the economic impact that international students bring to American universities transcends the classroom walls and campus perimeter. It is significant.
According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the international student enrollment at Niagara contributes CDN$18.76 million, part of the university’s CDN$301.5 million annual economic impact in the region.
There are currently 662 international students from 38 countries enrolled at Niagara, resulting in an additional 88 jobs. For every seven international students enrolled, three U.S. jobs are created and supported by spending in higher education and associated sectors.
Niagara is the largest post-secondary institution in western New York. State-wide, 114,000 international students make a CDN$5.25 billion contribution and support 46,854 jobs.
Nationally, the presence of international students studying at colleges and universities contribute CDN $42.88 billion and deliver 400,812 jobs to the U.S. economy.
Third; at Niagara, our mission statement, our strategic vision, inspired by and drawn from the founder of the Vincentian order, St. Vincent de Paul has a social-religious mandate. He organized his contemporaries to respond to people’s basic needs with compassion. The legacy of St. Vincent’s work with disaster relief and refugees earned him the title of honorary Secretary of State of France.
Today, more than ever, St. Vincent’s call serves as an inspiration for our staff and students to serve all members of society, from every faith tradition, in local communities and in the larger world.
Hospitality is a virtue. The safety and security of our great nation is a need that can never be compromised, but neither should our role as a country that embraces the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
As Pope Francis has said, "Authentic hospitality is a profound Gospel value that nurtures love and is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism."
Our faculty members and administrators will do everything in their power to ensure that we continue to be a welcoming community for all, so that we may facilitate the types of educational and cultural discussions that are meant to take place within the academic environment of a university and our neighbouring institutions.
Father Maher is president of Niagara University, a bi-national institution in upstate New York.