Throughout its long history, Niagara has remained true to the Vincentian principles of preparing students for personal and professional success while remaining committed to the values of its patron, St. Vincent de Paul, as well as to its Catholic heritage. Niagara relies on a tradition of five Vincentian virtues, which breed confidence. It puts scholarship in action, which produces clarity about one's self and the world. It encourages all to seek the "good" and to find their divinely given purpose.
Niagara University was founded in 1856 as the College and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels, which began with six students and two faculty. The founders of the university, Vincentians Priests, the Most Rev. John Timon, C.M. and Rev. John J. Lynch, C.M., purchased two adjoining farms, the Vedder and De Veaux farms, on Monteagle Ridge. Over the next 25 years, the college and seminary grew and prospered producing graduates that entered such fields as the priesthood, law and medicine, teaching, journalism and many others. Indeed, by the spring of 1863, the college had become so successful that the New York Legislature granted a charter empowering the college and seminary to award degrees to its graduates.
Twenty-five years after its founding, on August 7, 1883, Grover Cleveland, then governor of New York, gave permission to the college and seminary to change its name to Niagara University. The seminary remained a full and vibrant part of the university community until 1961 when it was moved to Albany, New York.
The university has evolved over its long history into an institution that offers degree programs in the Arts and Sciences, Business and Teaching, and Hospitality and Tourism.