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The Rev. Paul L. Golden, who will become the 24th president of Niagara University on Aug. 7, reminded members of the faculty and staff Monday that the university exists for its students.

"The students are central to all of our planning and all of our decisions," Father Golden told about 250 university employees at an hourlong reception in the Kiernan Center on the campus. "Niagara University has been very successful over many years. I'm going to build on that success. Of course, there will be changes. We will make them together, and the students will be central."

He emphasized the teamwork that he expected to develop with the faculty and staff. Commenting on the "warmth, friendship and welcoming spirit" on the campus, he said: "I am anxious to learn how we can work together."

Father Golden had visited the campus only once before -- during the selection process for a new president to succeed the Rev. Brian J. O'Connell, who announced in December that he planned to resign.

The president-elect today was to visit with student leaders and take part in staff interviews before returning to Chicago, where he is senior executive for university mission at DePaul University.

Father Golden, 56, has worked in various administrative positions at DePaul for the last 10 years, and he was considered two years ago for the presidency of that university, which has 16,500 students and 1,170 faculty members. Niagara's enrollment is 2,800, with 213 faculty members.

Father Golden was ordained in 1965 and is considered to be an expert in canon law. He has been active in community affairs, including programs to bring members of the DePaul community closer to those of the greater Chicago community.

He said that it was too soon for him to discuss his vision for the future of the Niagara community but that his programs and goals would be developed as he moves into the early stages of his presidency.

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