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University Strong, but Challenges Lie Ahead, Says President









 

University Strong, but Challenges Lie Ahead, Says President

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, delivers the annual convocation to the University.
Photo by Michael Dames

By Janet Sassi

Fordham University broke records in fundraising, enrollment and student achievement in 2007-2008, and has reached its strategic goal for diversity in its latest freshman class.

That news and more was announced by Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, as part of his State of the University address delivered on Sept. 22 at the 10th Annual Faculty Convocation.

“The state of the University is strong—not merely stable, but strong,” said Father McShane, speaking from the McGinley Center. “We rejoice because the University is intellectually vibrant, fiscally sound and increasingly attractive to students who are interested in an education that is challenging and engaging at the same time [and] that will prepare them for lifelong learning, achievement and meaningful involvement in the cause of the human family.”

Fundraising for Fiscal Year 2008 increased by 39 percent, bringing in $67.9 million in gifts and pledges, up from $49.4 million the previous year. Twelve gifts, Father McShane said, were for $1 million or more—most notably a $10 million gift from Robert Campbell (CBA ’55) and Joan M. Campbell. To recognize the gift, the University named a residence hall rising adjacent to the William D. Walsh Family Library in their honor.

In addition, alumni undergraduate participation in giving increased one percent from last year, to 23 percent, while annual participation among Fordham School of Law graduates reached 25 percent.

The University ended its fiscal year on June 30 in “better than budget” position, with $8.6 million, which will be applied toward much-needed capital projects.

Admission applications climbed eight percent to 23,784, and freshman enrollment rose from 1,741 last year to 1,836—a class that included 39 National Merit Scholars.

Father McShane tempered his upbeat report, however, by explaining that the University may be adversely affected by present instability in the financial markets.

“While Fordham is strong, it faces a number of very large challenges,” he said. “These challenges are going to tax us. They will require hard work and creativity if we are to continue on the upward trajectory on which we have been for the last few years.”

The waning stock market already has affected the University’s endowment, Father McShane said. As of this past June 30, the endowment was approximately $469 million, down from its record $513 million one year ago.

At the same time, the state and federal governments have become “less friendly” to higher education, potentially affecting grant money to students.

“If anyone had told me when I became a Jesuit that I would have to be concerned about money, I would have laughed,” Father McShane said. “But it’s on my mind when I go to bed at night. And I get up in the morning wondering what futures are—not what the future is, but what futures are.”

On a more upbeat note, the president congratulated faculty and staff for bringing Fordham to greater prominence in several areas, including:

• A record 12 Fulbright scholarships awarded to students and recent alumni.

• Fordham’s rise to 61 in U.S. News and World Report’s annual collegiate rankings, a 23-point climb in five years.

• A total of 108 scholarship and fellowship awards won by the student body.

• A 12.7 percent increase in multiple-year grants awarded to Fordham faculty, making a historic high of $36,049,394.

Also mentioned were the accomplishments in the University’s individual schools. They include:

• Arts and Sciences faculty approved a new undergraduate core curriculum and created the Center for Teaching Excellence. A research affiliation between the A&S schools and the Bronx Botanical Garden enhanced the curriculum in the Department of Biological Sciences. Faculty published 50 books and 493 articles.

BusinessWeek ranked the College of Business Administration 27th in the nation, up from 34 the previous year. The college also saw a dramatic rise in applications. The Graduate School of Business Administration instituted a new master’s degree in international finance. Faculty published 36 books or book chapters, and 75 articles.

• The Graduate School of Education hosted 10 conferences and brought Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, to the University for an honorary degree. Faculty published 12 books and 51 chapters and attracted $2.8 million in grants.

• The Graduate School of Social Service remained the University’s highest-ranking program, at number 18 in U.S. News and World Report in the category of graduate and professional school programs. Faculty published four books and 11 chapters.

• The Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education initiated distance learning at Fordham by offering an online certificate in faith formation. Faculty published one book and 13 articles.

• Fordham Law School was ranked 27 in U.S. News and World Report and received the Pro Bono Award from the American Bar Association, making it only the second law school to receive the award. Faculty published 23 books and 36 chapters.


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