Dean of students talks campus life: Niagara University’s ‘student first’ philosophy

By Christine Burke

With plenty of changes around the Niagara campus there have been a multitude of issues at the forefront of many students’ minds, as seen in the abundant response to the recent residence hall survey sent out by the Office of Student Affairs.

“I think that one of the main concerns is creating an overall sense of community where students can dialogue with each other about different points of view,” said Dean of Students Jason Jakubowski, naming cost and the presidential election as two of the most prominent issues in students’ minds.

Jakubowski said he has an ambitious vision for NU in the future and that the school will “maintain its philosophy of students first, but will have a co-curricular focus with programming.” He explained that this means each event or initiative will focus on helping students become responsible citizens, allow them to engage in multiple and diverse perspectives, inspire appreciation for the creative process and the arts and provide leadership opportunities geared toward student self-discovery.

“Caring for the individual and our students still needs to be our focus,” Jakubowski said. “Through student care and the co-curriculum, I strongly feel that we are creating the conditions for our students to be successful both in and out of the classroom.”

Jakubowski has worked at several other colleges before coming to NU and said that Niagara places a much stronger focus on the individual than many other schools. “I like to say that I’m the Dean for Students,” he added, pointing out that his office is all about advocacy for the students. “It may be a function of our size or location, or something deeper at NU, but we’ve established some good relationships,” Jakubowski added.

He named student interaction as his favorite part of the job, although he joked that there are many times it doesn’t feel like work at all. “Every time I interact with a student I am increasingly impressed with the skill and the talent and the ability and the ideas that our students have,” said Jakubowski. “Through these interactions, we are making a difference because of these relationships.”

Jakubowski said he hopes to support more intellectual life on campus and help students become more involved by teaching them to engage in multiple perspectives, appreciate one another and their stories and become active listeners and participators. He also wants there to be a greater sense of harmony and community on campus, which he plans to do by increasing the “synergy” between students and staff.

“NU teaches students to make good decisions consistent with who we are and what our mission is,” Jakubowski said. “We are trying to create an environment where our students will come back as alumni and share their stories with us after they leave.” He added that he wants graduating students to continue with lifelong learning, operating in a variety of different functions and performing service at the outstanding rates they currently are.

For more information on the direction of the campus or to address potential concerns, contact the Office of Student Affairs at 716-286-8405, emailing, or by visiting their office in Lower Level Gallagher Center.

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