GRE And the Future

A Letter from the Acting Dean, Spring 2024

To: GRE Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni

From: Francis X. McAloon, SJ, Acting Dean

Date: January 22nd, 2024

Headshot Francis McAloon SJ

The beginning of a new year and a new semester offers an opportunity for me to update you on how GRE is doing. 

As you know from last April’s letter from the university’s provost, Dennis Jacobs, the university asked GRE to begin a process of exploring options for how best to continue serving our current and future students in a rapidly shifting environment for both higher education and religious/ministerial education. While for most of us, the pandemic seems a welcome while ago, its after effects yet linger with us still, as indicated by student numbers, programmatic challenges, economic forces, and leadership changes. Understandably, all of this is a source of concern and, for some, anxiety for GRE students, faculty, and administration. 

In the midst of such troubling circumstances, let us not forget the singular and significant service GRE offers its students, the university, local dioceses, and non-profits, as well as national and innumerable global communities of faith, hope, and social justice.  For more than 50 years, GRE graduates have shared their lives and learnings to enliven, enrich, and expand upon all sorts of communities, institutions, initiatives, and individuals. Here are examples of recent trends for GRE:

  • A 73% growth in our participation in the New York Theological Consortium, with more students both coming to Fordham and going out from GRE to other member schools.
  • The inaugural classes of students in our Advanced Certificate programs in Trauma Informed-Care and Jesuit Studies, and in our M.A. in Pastoral Care Concentration in Trauma-Informed Care in 2023.
  • A 6.4% increase in GRE credit hours between Spring 2023 and Spring 2024.
  • Haciendo Caminos Grant
  • Return of GRE-sponsored on-campus Jesuit and Latine lectures and conferences in 2023.
  • GRE Social media has told the stories of our students, faculty, and alumni, increasing our reach and followers by over 1500% since October 2022 and debuting our presence on Instagram and YouTube in addition to Facebook and Linkedin.
  • GRE Faculty have lectured at conferences in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe this year, in addition to many prominent conferences across the United States.

What is well begun now invites new possibilities.  Our faculty’s expertise in so many areas, e.g., Christian spirituality, mental health and spiritual counseling, practical theology, and religious education, marks us as an important academic center for contemporary explorations of human growth and development. Grounded in principles of wellness, wholeness, and holiness, our degree programs encourage faith-based and critical awareness of the world in which we live, marked, as it is, by such challenging issues as war and peace, global climate change, limits to health and habitat, unjust cultural and technological abuses, racism, sexism, and an array of -isms constraining the evolution of a just society. 

Last semester and this spring, both administrators and faculty have pursued multifaceted conversations regarding how best to continue GRE’s offerings within a new context. Eventually, GRE may not exist as a separate school within Fordham University; however, all efforts focus on continuing with current programs and courses within another unit of the university. Certainly, the university commits to all current and newly accepted GRE students that you will be able to complete your degrees according to existing academic requirements.  Unless you transfer to a different academic institution, you will receive a Fordham University diploma upon successful completion of your degree program. 

By the end of this current semester, I plan to update you on our progress. 

Wishing you peace and all good things.

Francis X. McAloon, SJ