“Hail Rams of Fordham” will replace “Hail men of Fordham” as lyrics in “The Ram,” Fordham’s century-old fight song, said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, on Dec. 2. Father McShane made the announcement at a festive President’s Club Christmas Reception, an annual event recognizing the University’s most loyal benefactors.
The evening drew some 800 alumni, both recent and longstanding, to the Koch Theatre.
“I enjoy coming back and seeing people that I knew from a hundred years ago–almost,” said Frank Scharf, Law ’53, who met his wife Muriel Kilkenny Scharf, UGE ’52, when they were students at Fordham’s downtown campus at 302 Broadway.
In announcing the lyric change, Father McShane noted the University’s female student majority (53 percent of undergraduates) reflects a national trend in higher education. The announcement left some of old-time Rams in attendance visibly bemused, as Father McShane encouraged an impromptu a cappellaversion of the song.
For others, it was “cathartic.”
“We’ve been waiting many, many years for this,” said Antoinette Freeman GSB’03.
John Ignatius Covney, FCRH’06, is often credited with giving the university its Ram identity when he wrote the tune in 1905. He later penned another fight song for a team in Boston called the Red Sox. He died shortly thereafter of typhoid fever.
The announcement was folded into a celebratory speech recognizing University achievements over the last year, as well as the importance of alumni support. Father McShane described a very colorful Thanksgiving week, which included not only “black Friday,” but a Saturday that was “maroon on steroids”—his reference to the football team’s 37-27 victory against Sacred Heart in the NCAA FCS playoffs.
He also ticked off several of the year’s academic home runs, including: a freshman class with the highest SAT scores in University history, solid rankings in U.S. News & World Report and other outlets, and 12 Fulbright scholarships.
Giving a nod to significant developments on the fundraising front, Father McShane recognized the “great generosity” of Maurice “Mo” Cunniffe, FCRH ’54, whose gift has rechristened the Administration Building as Cunniffe House. With the $250-million Law School building nearing completion just a stone’s throw from the gathering, Father McShane assured the crowd that there are plenty of campus venues “just waiting for a name.”
But it was the rewording of the Rams fight song that drew the most animated response from the crowd, particularly among couples who met on campus, like Patrick Jordan FCRH ’02, who holds season football tickets with his wife, Stephanie Jordan, GSB’03.
“I have nooooo problem with it,” he said, locking eyes with his wife.
“It’s gonna take some getting used to,” admitted Stephanie Jordan. “I made a mistake on the second verse, but give me a couple of games, I’ll get it.”
“I think it should be ‘hail men of Fordham,’ and I’m a woman,” said Pat Tolan, whose son, daughter, and husband all attended the University.
Her husband, Jim Tolan GSB ’59, LAW ’62, echoed several of the more tradition-bound Rams interviewed, but ultimately concluded that it was “appropriate.”
Some noted in fun, however, that a ram is a male sheep.
“Your not gonna make the female athletes the Ewes,” said Mary Wachowicz, GSB ’10. “They’re still the Rams.”
It was an issue that Father McShane tackled head on, noting that ewes sounded too much like “youse,” as in “youse guys”—which sounded too much like Brooklyn for a Bronx-based team.