In Memory of Dr. Marilynn Fleckenstein

In Our Caring Community, by , on April 14th, 2020

As Executive Director of the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement, I feel compelled to share my memory and honor the commitment of Dr. Marilynn Fleckenstein for her dedication to service and civic responsibility.  

In 1994, Dr. Fleckenstein founded Niagara University’s (NU) service learning program Learn and Serve. Tied to Niagara University’s Vincentian Mission, Learn and Serve afforded students, faculty and staff to provide service in areas of community needs and improving the quality of life for so many in our locality. 

Dr. Marilynn Fleckenstein

Dr. Marilynn Fleckenstein

Dr. Fleckenstein furthered the university’s commitment to service receiving grant funding’s that expanded the importance of service to other higher education institutions. The Western New York Service Learning Collaborative was created through the efforts of Dr. Fleckenstein, which brought all Western New York higher education institutions together to implement service as a core component of its academic and social structure. 

Niagara University gained national recognition in service learning, because of Dr.Fleckenstein’s unending commitment on the value of service in higher education. Over the years, Dr. Fleckenstein received numerous awards for her commitment to service both personally and professionally, and the ability to expand its importance to other higher education institutions nationwide. Dr. Fleckenstein was a national speaker at several service conferences sharing the importance, impact, and personal development service brought to colleges, universities, and communities. 

In 2017, NU developed a new service learning entitled IMPACT. Dr. Fleckenstein shared her expertise and belief that NU was ready for a new type of service that engaged students both academically and professionally. In the past three years, she often would share her feelings on IMPACT programming and ways to engage faculty in this important work the NU community was embarking upon.

In 1996, I began my career at NU where Dr. Fleckenstein was my immediate supervisor. Marilynn allowed us to expand Learn and Serve offering tutoring for local school districts benefitting hundreds of NU and school district students annually. I always admired her willingness to see service as a way to improve quality of life holistically and individually. Dr. Fleckenstein embodied the work of St. Vincent DePaul always asking the question “What must be done”.

On April 9, Niagara University lost a trusted colleague and friend in Dr. Marilynn Fleckenstein!   NU was an important part of her adult life, employed here for 51 years in a variety of positions on campus. As a remembrance of Dr. Fleckenstein’s passion for service, she has asked that any donations in her honor go to IMPACT or the Levesque Institute. The irony of working for Marilynn in 1996 and being in a position now to further her love for service is an honor and opportunity to further the passion, commitment, and belief that she gave to NU for all of us who knew her! We will miss you Marilynn.