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Education Features

NU President’s Dinner honors several individuals who have impacted the lives of others


NIAGARA UNIVERSITY – Niagara University honored Bishop Darius G. Pridgen, the OSC Charitable Foundation, and Father Joseph G. Hubbert, CM, at its 2022 President’s Dinner, Nov. 9, at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. Proceeds from the President’s Dinner benefit Niagara University’s scholarship programs. More than $275,000 was raised toward student scholarship assistance during the event.

Father James J. Maher, CM, Niagara University president (second from left) with 2022 President’s Dinner honorees (from left) Father Joseph G. Hubbert, CM, ’73, Bishop Darius G. Pridgen, and OSC Charitable Foundation founders Heather and Jon M. Williams. (Photo courtesy of Niagara University)

The event was hosted by Father James J. Maher, CM, president of Niagara University, and co-chaired by Karen Siembida Howard, ’84, and Kathleen L. Neville, M.A.’15, members of NU’s board of trustees. The evening included a formal program with remarks from Father Maher, along with the presentation of awards to: 

Bishop Darius G. Pridgen, senior pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church and City of Buffalo Common Council president, Ellicott District, who received the St. Vincent de Paul Award. Bishop Pridgen is a U.S. Air Force veteran; a graduate of Buffalo State and Medaille colleges; and a community mentor, servant, leader and organizer whose service to the community has changed lives for decades. As the senior pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church and Buffalo’s Common Council president representing the Ellicott District, Bishop Pridgen has learned that “to whom much is given, much is required.” This is evident in his continuous selfless service to make change in today’s world that will last for generations to come. Bishop Pridgen has led efforts to clean up the Buffalo community, fought to restore landmarks and to preserve history that tells an important story. Through his leadership, the congregation of True Bethel has developed community-based services to support those in need of food, clothing and resources. Bishop Pridgen has fully embraced his calling to love and change a generation by giving others hope of reaching their full potential.

The OSC Charitable Foundation/Heather and Jon M. Williams, who received the Legacy of Service award. Founded by Heather and Jon Williams in 2014, the OSC Charitable Foundation supports more than 100 community organizations, focusing on five areas: educational, religious, health related, cultural and scientific research organization. It also addresses issues impacting the East Side of Buffalo, including employment, training, basic and life skills, and barriers to education and employment, such as child care, mental health issues, and transportation. Heather and Jon work with community partners to find practical solutions that bring long-term and meaningful change to these endemic social issues. Most recently, its partnership with Back to Basics Ministries helps at-risk youth on Buffalo’s East Side to find support and a path to alternatives that are nonviolent and educationally based.

Niagara University alumnus Father Joseph G. Hubbert, CM, ’73, who received the President’s Medal. After earning his Ph.D. in church history, Father Hubbert returned to Monteagle Ridge and the Department of Religious Studies where he further advanced his career to become department chair. More notably, he forged relationships with students that continue well beyond the classroom, often being called upon to marry alumni and baptize their children, and even those children’s children. He is actively involved with the student body and the Niagara community, demonstrating the true nature of a Vincentian and celebrating his heritage with the Niagara Falls Ancient Order of Hibernians. Father Hubbert has a true passion for Purple Eagle Athletics, which comes alive during time spent with the basketball and softball teams, as well as the club hockey team. As the recently appointed alumni chaplain, his faith-based Vincentian mission will endure for current and future Purple Eagles.