Alumni and Student Journalists Hold Media Roundtable with New President
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., wants Fordham students to be bothered. During a Sept. 12 roundtable discussion, the 32nd president of Fordham University said that Fordham students should graduate with a sense of responsibility to society, haunted by visions of injustice and thoughts that someone, somewhere is suffering.
“Fordham is not about educating people who are going to be apathetic,” said Father McShane. “As a Jesuit institution we want to educate people who are going to make a difference in the world.”
The roundtable included retired Associated Press President Louis D. Boccardi (FCO ’58); CNN New York Bureau Chief Karen Curry (TMC ’71); The Observer news editor Matthew Colabraro (FCLC ’06) and senior Jessica Berta, editor-in-chief of The Ram. The journalists asked Father McShane about everything from the University’s endowment and public image to his vision and plan for Fordham’s future.
One of Father McShane’s priorities is to ensure that Fordham remains open and accessible to students of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, including those who are first-generation college students.
“In my experience at Fordham, frequently the students who come to us with the greatest hunger and also the greatest urgency of hope from their families are the ones who are on fire for excellence,” he said. “And they leaven the student body because they come with a seriousness and a mystical regard for the power of education to open their minds and to change their lives.”
Father McShane told the panel that he doesn’t believe Fordham’s Jesuit identity is a hindrance within a secular city like New York, but rather that openness is a hallmark of Jesuit education along with fostering an environment where faith and reason can join in dialogue.
“My hope is that more people will say ‘Jesuit’ means we are a place where the life of the mind is taken seriously, and where the great questions in life are not shied away from, and there is ultimately a great interest in making sure that people wrestle with issues and come through those moments of wrestling with an ethical stance,” said Father McShane.
Fordham’s new president went on to say that the University’s New York City location offers students unique benefits. Rose Hill students, he said, see Manhattan as a combination of laboratory, classroom and cultural mecca, while to Lincoln Center students, it is an integral part of their school experience. Father McShane noted that Rose Hill’s urban neighborhood provides countless opportunities for community service.
Father McShane hopes to hear more about students’ experiences in their communities and learn about their expectations of Fordham by establishing a student cabinet with delegates from all three campuses. He said as president, he has a responsibility not only to students, but to various other University constituencies as well.
“I am, at one and the same time, pastor of the community; I am the chief spokesman for the university; I am the public face of the university; I am the chief beggar; I am the final arbiter of all disputes on campus; and in a strange way, probably the keeper of the flame, the person who is to keep the spirit of the University alive,” said Father McShane.
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During a Sept. 12 roundtable discussion, Fordham President Joseph M. McShane, S.J. (top), was interviewed by (from left to right) The Ram’s Jessica Berta (FCO ’04), retired Associated Press President Louis D. Boccardi (FCO ’58), The Observer’s Matthew Colabraro (FCLC ’06) and CNN New York Bureau Chief Karen Curry (TMC ’71).