Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

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Alumni Preside over Institutes of Higher Learning

Alumni preside over Institutes of Higher learning

As word continues to spread about Fordham university’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, five alumni are currently working to implement some of the school’s characteristic academic principles and student-centered programs into their own colleges and universities—from downtown Manhattan to the heart of Hong Kong.

John Sexton
, FCRH ’63, GSAS ’65 and ’78, the president of New York University, has brought with him to the popular research university the Jesuit call for a ratio studiorum, a rationale for what an institution of higher learning stands for and how it strives to live up to its standards.
“I think that every institution and institutional leader ought to be able to articulate that,” said Sexton, who was named president of the university in 2001 after serving as dean of the university’s law school for 14 years. “And every decision at the tactical level should be judged by that, down to what a teacher is teaching day by day.
“There’s no question for me that the Jesuits formed me as an educator and a thinker. I view most of what I’ve done in education, and certainly what I’ve done [at NYU], as derivative of what the Jesuits inculcated in me.”

Just as Fordham has historically accommodated part time students, so too has Nassau Community College, according to Sean Fanelli, GSAS ’70, president of the largest community college in the State University of New York system of public higher education.  He recognizes Fordham in NCC’s strong commitment to the liberal arts, and points to NCC’s transfer office and extensive articulation agreements with various colleges and universities throughout the country as flagships of the community college.
“When you have a program that is only career oriented, you do a disservice to the students,” said Fanelli, who also noted the college draws close to 20,000 full time students. “NCC has a reputation for sending a large percentage of our students on to earn their bachelor’s degrees.
“We have strong [liberal arts] programs across the board. NCC’s strong foundation is the predicate to our students’ future degrees.”

Francesco Cesareo
, GSAS ’83 and ’86, president of Assumption College, in Worcester, Mass., said his college shares with Fordham a strong liberal arts curriculum as well as a com¬mitment to the centuries old Catholic intellectual tradition. “Faith and reason play an important role in the unfolding of knowledge,” said Cesareo, who took over as Assumption College’s 16th president last July. “At Assumption, we encourage students to enter into a dialogue with faith and reason to look at and engage the world in a particular way. We give students a tool by which to ask important questions about the Catholic intellectual tradi¬tion and what that has to offer society and the individual.”

On the other side of the world, George Kwame Kumi, GSAS ’96, and Paul Chu, Ph.D., GSAS ’65, are running universities in Ghana and Hong Kong, respectively. Kumi, who established the Catholic University of Ghana after earning his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Fordham, is trying to bring the Jesuit principle of cura personalis (care for the whole person), a cornerstone of a GSAS education, to Ghana’s only Catholic university. “I’ve tried to incorporate [Fordham’s] best attributes into Catholic University,” said Kumi, the vicar general of the Ghanese Catholic diocese of Sunyani. “I feel its Catholic character and religious atmosphere here. I feel Fordham’s essence of hard work and discipline, which goes a long way toward informing the future leaders of the country and in forming a whole person.”

Similarly, Chu, the president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), hopes to move his university toward even greater prominence as a research institute. He credits GSAS for giving him the confidence to pursue his passion for science. “I wanted to be a scientist, but I was timid,” recalled Chu, who is also the executive director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity. “At Fordham, I could work at my own pace, and that developed my confidence.” Like his fellow alumni, Chu works tirelessly to instill a similar level of confidence—and pride—in his students. “What better joy can there be for a scientist to discover a new theory, a new phenomenon or new material? It is discovery that changes the world.”

Although they are all at different stages in their careers, these five distinguished alumni are impacting higher education the world over, thank in part to the pedagogical lessons and experiences they picked up at Fordham’s GSAS.

John Sexton, FCRH '63, GSAS '65 and '78, was named the 15th president of New York University in 2001, after serving as dean of the university's law school for 14 years.

Sean Fanelli, GSAS '70, is the president of Nassau Community College, the largest community college in the State University of New York system of public higher education, with 21,000 day and evening students and close to 15,000 continuing and professional education students of all ages and backgrounds.

Francesco Cesareo, GSAS '83 and '86, is the 16th president of Assumption College, a liberal arts and professional studies college rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition.  He was appointed president in 2007 after serving as dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University.

George Kwame Kumi, GSAS '96, the vicar general of the Ghanese Catholic diocese of Sunyani, Ghana, established the Catholic University of Ghana, the country's only Catholic university, in 2003.

Paul Chu, GSAS '65, who won the National Medal of Science, the top honor given to a U.S. scientist, for his work in superconductivity, is the president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  He also is the exective director of the Texas Center of Superconductivity.

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