Niagara University Announces October 2022 Speaker Series – Oct. 12 – Dr. Kenyani Davis – Hughes Endowed Lecture in the Health Sciences


Niagara University’s October 2022 Speaker Series features Dr. Timothy Pawl, Dr. Kenyani Davis, Dr. Kevin Ahern, and NU alumnus Sam Goodwin, ’12.

The experience of being unjustly detained in Syria, a discussion of how to develop virtue, an exploration of the social determinants of health that impact Niagara County, and the power and potential of student organizing are the featured topics during Niagara University’s October Speaker Series. The presentations, which will take place each Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Dunleavy Hall Room 127 on the Niagara University campus, are free and open to the public.

The 2022 series kicks off on Oct. 5 with Timothy Pawl, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at the University of St. Thomas, who will give the Albert the Great Lecture, “The Cultivation of Virtue.” Dr. Pawl will draw from Aristotelian philosophy, Vincentian theology, and contemporary psychology to provide an understanding of what virtue is and how best to form virtues in oneself.


Dr. Pawl holds a Ph.D. from Saint Louis University in philosophy, with specialization in the philosophy of religion, metaphysics, Thomistic philosophy, analytic theology, and moral psychology. He is the author of three books and more than 40 academic articles, and has been featured in a series of interviews for the PBS show “Closer to Truth.”

The Albert the Great Lecture is presented by the Niagara University philosophy department and named for Albertus Magnus, who is most famous for the influence he had as the instructor of St. Thomas Aquinas, the cornerstone of the Catholic intellectual tradition.

The series continues on Oct. 12 with Dr. Kenyani Davis, chief medical officer of the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc., who will give the Hughes Endowed Lecture in the Health Sciences. Her presentation, “Servant Community Medicine: A Journey of Trust, Resiliency and Renewal,” will discuss CHCB, Inc.’s efforts to provide continuous care to underserved patients of color in the face of inequity and systemic racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, through the lens of the organization’s Fight for Good initiative. She will also explore the social determinants of health that impact Niagara County and ultimately lead to poor health outcomes.


In her role at the CHCB, Inc., a Federally Qualified Health Center serving over 20,000 patients annually in Erie and Niagara counties, Dr. Davis provides quality medical care to patients and leads clinical operations for the organization’s Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Lockport, and Niagara Falls health-care facilities.

The Niagara University Hughes Endowed Lectureship in the Health Sciences was established with an endowment created by the late Dr. John Hughes, an accomplished radiologist who graduated from Niagara University in 1967. The lectureship recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the health sciences or to healthcare and provides an academic forum to address topics of importance in contemporary healthcare.

On Oct. 19, Kevin Ahern, Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, will present the McNulty Lecture, “From Spectators to Protagonists: Student Organizing for Social and Ecclesial Change.” Drawing from more than 20 years of engagement and research with student movements worldwide, Dr. Ahern will highlight the power and potential of college students in transforming the world and the church, taking stock of their specific role and responsibility in the face of what the Catholic tradition describes as structures of sin, such as racism, ecological destruction, and war.

Dr. Ahern is a public theologian, educator, and organizer, as well as an award-winning author, focusing on the intersections of Catholic social ethics, ecclesiology, and peace studies.

The McNulty Lecture Series, sponsored by Niagara University’s religious studies department, is devoted to questions of faith in the contemporary world, especially the topics of social justice and interreligious dialogue. The series was established by the late Rev. Thomas P. McGourty, C.M., a professor of religious studies at NU, in memory of his late aunt and uncle.

The series wraps up on Oct. 26, when Niagara University alumnus Sam Goodwin, ’12, returns to his alma mater to present the Peggy and John Day University Honors Lecture. Goodwin will talk about the nine weeks in 2019 that he spent imprisoned in Syria, including solitary confinement, a sham trial, blindfolded interrogations and, ultimately, a dramatic release. His presentation, “Winning Through Uncertainty,” will focus on how he embraced uncertainty during this time and the efforts it took to survive captivity.


Goodwin earned his B.A. in communication studies and French from Niagara University. He was also a member of the NU Division 1 men’s hockey team. He has played and coached hockey in destinations like India, Turkmenistan, and North Korea, and moved to Singapore in 2012 to help launch a tech startup business and regional NGO. He has subsequently led humanitarian efforts across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. From 2010-2019, Goodwin traveled to all 193 United Nations’ sovereign countries.

The Peggy and John Day University Honors Lecture Series was established through a gift from Margaret Ranft, ’77, and John Day.

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