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New center for international students at Niagara University

Niagara University has established a new entity on campus to assist international students and families from around the globe, especially in enhancing their proficiency in English as a second language.

The Edward A. Brennan Center for Language, Culture and Leadership also will extend the university’s Vincentian mission to agencies that serve refugee, migrant and immigrant populations.

“In keeping with our Vincentian identity, the Center for Language, Culture and Leadership will focus on leading, learning and serving,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, Niagara president. “The portfolio of services and programs facilitated through the center will provide a continuum of English language learning. As part of the process, we will build interdisciplinary connections between teaching and learning that will augment services to international students and their families.”

The new center is named in honor of the father of Edward J. Brennan, a 1978 Niagara alumnus and current trustee who has been very active in serving the global community, largely through his work as co-founder and chairman of the Hand in Hand for Haiti charity. The retired CEO and chairman of DFS Group spearheaded the development of a world-class school in Saint Marc, an area that was ravaged by an earthquake in January 2010. Edward A. Brennan served for many years as chairman and chief executive of Sears, Roebuck & Company. He also was chairman of the board at Marquette and DePaul universities.

Deborah T. Curtis is the center’s director. The primary goal of the center is to build upon academic and linguistic achievement to enhance proficiency among learners of English as a new language. In doing so, it will offer programs and services in six core areas: Language proficiency assessment; intensive academic English programming for international students who wish to study at U.S. universities; academic English language support (including courses) for international students who are accepted into degree programs at Niagara; language enrichment for intensive summer experiences; TEFL certificate of study for students interested in teaching English abroad; and leadership and advocacy programming and outreach to serve the international community and those learning English as a new language.