In mid-March of 1984, when the Fordham University Board of Trustees voted on a replacement for retiring Fordham president James C. Finlay, S.J., they picked a well-traveled Jesuit with a flair for words and a strong drive to boost the University’s national reputation.
Joseph O’Hare, S.J., editor of America magazine at the time, was a prolific writer of articles on religion, politics and justice whose studies and service activities had taken him as far as the Philippines, China and Eastern Europe.
Under his leadership, Fordham added numerous facilities including the William D. Walsh Family Library and residence halls that helped to attract a more national and diverse student body. The Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses gained a common core curriculum, making it easier for students to use both campuses, and applications surged, in part because of Father O’Hare’s drive for academic excellence. These and other changes transformed the University during his 19-year tenure, the longest of any Fordham president to date.