Press Release – NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Niagara University has received a gift from the estate of the late Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko. The gift, which will exceed $4.1 million, will be used for several university projects and initiatives.
“We are incredibly humbled and thankful for the gift that Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko has left for Niagara University,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “As an immigrant, Rose was familiar with the struggles of people who live on the margins of our society, and Niagara’s Vincentian mission resonated strongly with her. We are incredibly thankful to her for her generosity, and it is our mission to uphold the wishes and the legacy of Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko.”
Through the estate gift, the following initiatives have been established at Niagara University:
In addition to these specific initiatives, Niagara will also use funding from the Ostapenko estate for student scholarships, further enhancing the university’s mission of providing an affordable, high-quality education to students from all walks of life.
Ostapenko was a native of Germany who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s before becoming a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. Utilizing her talents as a clothing designer, Ostapenko opened The Sewing Shop in Washington, D.C., the precursor to The House of Fine Fabrics, a 17-store corporation. She sold the fabric store chain in 1978 to Fabri-Center of America.
Ostapenko’s philanthropy supported many types of educational, religious, health, and community service organizations. She was introduced to Niagara University by her friend, 1951 NU alumnus Jim Keenan, and developed a friendship with the Rev. Francis X. Prior, C.M., who served as NU’s vice president for institutional advancement. Ostapenko received an honorary doctorate from Niagara in 1986. Upon her passing in 2014, a portion of her estate was designated to support Niagara University.
To learn more about Niagara University, please visit www.niagara.edu.
Founded by the Vincentian community in 1856, Niagara University is a comprehensive institution, blending the best of a liberal arts and professional education, grounded in our values-based Catholic tradition. Its colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, and Hospitality and Tourism Management offer programs at the baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral level.
As the first Vincentian university established in the United States, Niagara prepares students for personal and professional success while emphasizing service to the community in honor of St. Vincent de Paul. Niagara’s institutional commitment to service learning has led to its inclusion on the President’s Honor Roll for Community Service every year since its inception in 2006, and its recognition with the Carnegie Foundation’s Classification for Community Engagement.