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University Community Raises More Than $50,000 for Tsunami Relief

The Fordham community exceeded the challenge to aid tsunami victims put forth by Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, by raising more than $52,000. An additional $5,000 is expected from student-run tsunami fundraisers held in late February and early March.

On January 14, Father McShane launched a tsunami-relief fundraising campaign with a $25,000 donation and a challenge to faculty, staff and students to match that amount. The tsunami struck on Dec. 26, killing more than 250,000 people and devastating coastal communities in southeast Asia and western Africa.

"I would like to thank the faculty, staff and student groups that hosted fundraising events and made individual contributions to meet this challenge. This fundraising success is yet another example of the Fordham community responding to tragedy in the true spirit of men and women in service to others,” said Father McShane. “The money raised will bring some relief to our brothers and sisters struggling day by day to rebuild their lives."

In addition to the many individual donations, more than a dozen student groups hosted a range of events, including auctions, concerts and dinners.

— Suzanne Stevens


Fordham Celebrates the History of Bronx Music

Barbara English, Charlotte McCartney, Trudy McCartney and Sylvia Hammond of The Clickettes rocked McGinley Ballroom with classic hits from the past four decades.
Rep. José Serrano, whose district encompasses much of the Bronx, celebrated the Bronx African-American History Project on the floor of the House of Representatives. In a March 7 speech, Serrano praised the project, a collaborative effort of the Bronx County Historical Society and Fordham’s Department of African and African American Studies, as instrumental in documenting and preserving the Bronx’s “rich and beautiful history.”

Serrano’s speech came on the heels of a March 4 concert in Fordham’s McGinley Center Ballroom to benefit the project. Nearly 700 people celebrated the musical traditions of the Bronx and honored the memory of the late singer, songwriter and community activist, Arthur Crier, Jr.

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion declared March 4, 2005, “Morrisania Appreciation Day” during his opening remarks, referring to the historic Bronx neighborhood that has been a focus of the project. Featured artists included Morrisania doo-wop groups, The Chords, The Clickettes, and Lillian Leach and the Mellows; jazz legend Jimmy Owens and his Quartet; and music by Pete DJ Jones.

“The evening showed the fundamental unity of all great music and its power to unify people of diverse backgrounds,” said Mark Naison, Ph.D., professor of African and African American studies and the director of Urban Studies Program at Fordham, who created the Bronx African American History Project.

“I have taught at Fordham for nearly 35 years and only dared to dream that the walls between the University and the surrounding community would come down,” said Naison. “Everyone at Fordham, from our University President, Joseph M. McShane, on down, made the people of the Bronx feel welcome on our campus.”

The Bronx African-American History Project was created to document the history of people of African descent in the Bronx.

— John Blakeley

Discussion of Robert A. Orsi’s Book Draws Big Crowd

Robert Orsi’s recent visit to discuss his book, Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them (Princeton University Press, 2005), was a homecoming of sorts. Orsi was a professor of theology at Fordham from 1981 to 1988.

Photo by Jessica Chornesky

In his new book, Between Heaven and Earth: The Religious Worlds People Make and the Scholars Who Study Them (Princeton University Press, 2005), Robert A. Orsi, Ph.D., explores the relationships people have with sacred figures and considers how religious scholars study the lives that people create between their heavenly beliefs and earthly existence.

Orsi, the Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America at Harvard Divinity School, discussed his book during a Feb. 8 forum in the 12th-floor lounge in the Leon Lowenstein building. Sponsored by the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture (FCRC) and the Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholics Studies, the event attracted more than 150 people.

“The book was not only a good read, it was a challenging and provoking one,” said Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, co-director of FCRC. “For one thing, it challenged my idea about religious studies, which I sometimes thought of as a diluted form of theology. Bob thinks quite the opposite, at least as I read him, and I was provoked to further thought about religious devotions and practices as they are embedded in the communities Bob writes about.”

Orsi touched on myriad issues from his book, including how Catholics’ beliefs are influenced by culture and history.

“I am interested in studying … what disciplines, in the broader sense of the term, have shaped Catholics’ imaginations and spirituality in a complex dynamic, not that have been imposed on them or formed in them,” said Orsi. “I’m not saying that there’s a better Catholicism or a worse Catholicism. I’m saying, let’s look at the whole set of social, cultural, theoretical questions about ways in which people have been Catholic at different times in the American experience.”

Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University, and Kathryn Tanner, Ph.D., professor of theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School, served as conversationalists, discussing Orsi’s work and posing provocative questions.

Orsi is also the author of The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem (Yale University Press, 1988), winner of the John Gilmary Shea Prize of the American Catholic Historical Association, and Thank You, St. Jude: Women’s Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes (Yale University Press, 1996), winner of the 1998 Merle Curtis Award in American Social History.

— Suzanne Stevens


CACS Launches Multi-Year Study to Guide Church Renewal

The Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies (CACS) will launch a three-year research project in April to explore the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. Catholic community in the 21st century.

“The church’s recent troubles have spurred an outpouring of loyalty for the church among many Catholics and an opportunity for renewal and examination of the issues facing the church,” said James T. Fisher, Ph.D., codirector of CACS. “Through this study, the center will develop applicable models that will offer Catholic leaders new approaches to enhancing life in the church.”

Fisher and CACS codirector Mark Massa, S.J., will begin meeting with 40 to 50 scholars, canon lawyers, pastoral leaders and public intellectuals to prepare papers on various topics, such as Catholic identity and practice, youth ministries, promising models for effective lay and clerical leadership, and the role of American Catholic studies as an emerging academic enterprise.

The papers will be presented during several public conferences beginning in fall 2006 and will be published for distribution to national church leaders.

— Michele Snipe

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Fordham Launches Executive-in-Residence Program

Stephen J. McGuinness, an executive at Goldman Sachs, inaugurated Fordham’s Executive-in-Residence Program by teaching classes and offering career advice to students.

Photo by Chris Taggart

Stephen J. McGuinness (CBA ’82, GBA ’92), head of sales for North America in the equity division of Goldman Sachs, joined Fordham’s faculty for a day as its first executive-in-residence on Feb. 15. The Executive-in-Residence Program, an initiative spearheaded by the President’s Council, brings the University’s top alumni back to campus to teach classes, meet with students and ultimately strengthen their relationship with Fordham.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, hails the new initiative as “the heart and soul of the President’s Council,” a 100-plus-member group of the University’s brightest and most accomplished alumni who have committed to helping him advance Fordham’s mission and enhance its national reputation.

As an executive-in-residence, McGuinness met with representatives from the Office of Career Planning and Placement to develop a recruiting relationship between Fordham and Goldman Sachs, taught two undergraduate classes on “Investments and Security Analysis,” and met with students individually to review their career goals and offer advice.

“It’s critical to try to give young people exposure to careers and opportunities that they might not have had exposure to naturally,” said McGuinness.

A partner at Goldman Sachs since 2000, McGuinness joined the firm in 1992 as a manager for the bank loan distribution group. He became co-head of that global group in 1998 and moved to London in 2000, where he was co-head of European fixed income sales.

Dozens of President’s Council members have volunteered to serve as executives-in-residence, and University administrators are currently exploring opportunities to match their skill sets with Fordham courses.

— Andrea Marais


Fordham Technology Center Lands Grant

The Regional Educational Technology Center (RETC) of Fordham University has received a $300,000 grant to help Bronx teachers working with at-risk students integrate technology into their curricula. U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano, whose district encompasses much of the Bronx, helped secure the grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

RETC will use the money to provide professional development to teachers at a handful of Bronx schools. Teachers will learn to use educational techniques that immerse students in technology, such as using sensors to monitor and calculate environmental conditions in students’ neighborhoods or using multimedia tools to research family histories.

“Our objective is to help teachers develop experience and curriculum that uses technology to support student success inside and outside the classroom,” said Kathleen P. King, Ed.D., director of RETC and of Adult Education and Human Resource Development in Fordham’s Graduate School of Education. “Working in teams, students gain confidence and valuable life skills while building academic skills.”

— Suzanne Stevens

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Reception Commemorates Holocaust Book and Education Project

Michael Berenbaum, Ph.D., founding project director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C., and an adviser to the Yellow Star Project, wrote the foreword for the republication of The Yellow Star and said the book “was first compiled to tell the perpetrators and their descendants what had happened. It was meant for them, but now it speaks to us.”
When Holocaust survivor Luna Kaufman was asked to share her story with a high-school class 30 years ago, she didn’t grasp the importance of educating young people about such a horrific time in history. As the years went by, though, she came to realize how critical it was to keep alive the lessons of the Holocaust.

“I decided to dedicate my life to it,” said Kaufman, chair of the Sister Rose Thering Endowment at Seton Hall University and a charter member of the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Holocaust Education. The challenge, said Kaufman, who lost her sister and father in concentration camps, is “how we use that [knowledge] once we own it. People are beginning to realize that prejudice and bigotry do not produce a proper environment.”

Kaufman spoke at a Feb. 28 event commemorating the publication of the expanded North American edition of The Yellow Star: The Persecution of the Jews in Europe, 1933 – 1945 by Gerhard Schoenberner. First published as Der gelbe Stern in Germany in 1960, The Yellow Star is a comprehensive documentary of the Holocaust in images and words. The new edition was published last year by Fordham University Press.

The reception in the 12th-floor lounge of the Lowenstein Center also marked the launch of the Yellow Star Project, a national Holocaust program that will provide educational materials and tools to teachers.

“This book and this project remind us that life is a gift filled with meaning and of inestimable value, and that human dignity is to be both advanced and protected against all that would abridge or debase it,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University. “Burdened with this terrible and necessary knowledge of the Holocaust and other genocidal atrocities, we must be ever vigilant to rid ourselves of the fear to act.”
— Suzanne Stevens

Black and Hispanic MBA Association Honors Citigroup Executive

Sylvester McClearn shared “Sly’s Secrets to Success,” advising students to always be prepared to take advantage of exciting business opportunities, to be agents for change and to build a strong portfolio of career assets.

Photo by Chris Taggart

The Fordham University Black and Hispanic MBA Association (BHMBAA) awarded Citigroup’s Sylvester McClearn the first ever BHMBAA Alumni Achievers Award on March 4 for his dedication to nourishing and enhancing diversity in corporate America.

McClearn is a managing director in the global equities division of Citigroup’s corporate and investment bank. He is also a member of the Fordham University Board of Trustees. During his student days at Fordham, McClearn (CBA ’86, GBA ’88) spent two years as captain of the University’s football team and later served as a graduate assistant football coach.

“This award celebrates the accomplishments of Sylvester McClearn and other business leaders who continue to be architects in building great bridges over glass ceilings and granite walls,” said Ismaela Best, president of the BHMBAA.

McClearn was recognized during the club’s first annual banquet, which celebrated the theme “Breaking Through Barriers: Forging New Frontiers.” More than 90 corporate executives, alumni, faculty, administrators and students—including MBA candidates from Rutgers and Long Island University—attended the banquet in the 12th-floor lounge on the Lincoln Center campus.

Arts and Science Faculty Celebrate Achievement

Fordham College at Lincoln Center Dean Robert R. Grimes, S.J., made the rounds at the Arts & Science Faculty Day dinner in Pope Auditorium.

Photo by Ken Levinson

A boisterous crowd of more than 200 Arts and Science faculty members and administrators filled Pope Auditorium for the first A&S Faculty Day held on the Lincoln Center campus. The Feb. 4 event included a lecture on “The Wisdom of Willa Cather” by Richard Giannone, Ph.D., professor of English, followed by an awards dinner.

Robert R. Grimes, S.J., dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center, presented awards to four professors.

Michael Baur, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, director of Fordham’s Natural Law Colloquium and associate director of the Center for Ethics Education, received the distinguished teaching award in the humanities. Baur’s boundless energy was noted by students, one of whom called Baur “amazingly knowledgeable and able to make a dry text extremely interesting.”

Susan Abrams Beck, Ph.D., associate chair of the Department of Political Science, received the distinguished teaching award in the social sciences for her “breadth of knowledge, the clarity of her lectures, her enthusiasm and her ability to integrate current politics into her courses,” said Father Grimes.

Leonard Nissim, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, received the distinguished teaching award in the sciences. According to student evaluations, Nissim is “ready to answer questions, enthusiastic,” “available outside of class for extra help,” and is simply “awesome.”

Mary Erler, Ph.D., professor of English and medieval studies, received the award for distinguished contribution to graduate education. In a field known for limited tenure-track opportunities, three of Erler’s students have landed tenure-track positions. “She is a stellar teacher,” said Father Grimes, “who has made a unique contribution to the graduate program.”

— Suzanne Stevens


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