Hughes Hall, the five-story, 19th century stone building at the heart of Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, was officially rechristened the home of the Gabelli School of Business (GSB) in a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 27.
On the steps of the building’s new entrance, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, linked the occasion, which was attended by a wide swath of the Fordham community, to Sept. 27, 1540. That was the day that Saint Ignatius Loyola asked the Pope to approve the founding of the Society of Jesus, the mission of which would be to serve God in the challenges and opportunities of the real world.
“His sons, therefore, were to be men of discerning hearts and minds and bold vision who would dream world-engaging, world-changing dreams and who would engage the world with a rare and bracing combination of street smarts and dogged persistence,” Father McShane said.
Bold vision, street smarts and dogged persistence are traits that Mario J. Gabelli, GSB ’65, also possess, he added. Gabelli’s $25 million gift in 2010, the largest in the University’s history, made possible the renovation of the building named for Fordham’s founder, Archbishop John Hughes.
“Mario is a man who is blessed with a great restlessness, a bold and visionary mind, relentless persistence and the street smarts that one would expect of a son of the Bronx,” Father McShane said.
“He is, moreover, a man who has made his mark on the world by engaging the world with and through both his business sense and his remarkable support of education, which he sees as a way of transforming the world, both here at Fordham, and elsewhere.”
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Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., GSB ’83, dean of the Gabelli School and dean of the business faculty, noted, as someone who spent her undergraduate years at Rose Hill, that the new Hughes Hall is a dream come true.
“In two brief months, Hughes Hall has shown me that a great building — one that has life, vitality, and energy — is that way because of the special synergy it has with people. That includes the people inside it — our students and faculty — and the people behind it,” she said.
“It is the perfect mix of old-world charm and modern-day business elegance. It is a physical space that respects history but leads to the future. And it is, most importantly, a home. As any professor here will tell you, the glass walls make it very easy to see who’s at home. And, in truth, we are all at home.”
For Mario Gabelli, the afternoon was an opportunity to look back, as well as forward, as he recalled Fordham Prep in 1957 when it was at Hughes Hall. He exhorted those in attendance to support faculty, facilities, financing and students, which together form the backbone of higher education. Education, he noted, is what one of the underpinnings of meritocracy, which along with the rule of law and the free market system keeps the country strong.
“I cobbled my way through the Prep and to college and through graduate school through scholarships, so we have to find a way to give back and keep that flame burning,” he said.
Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., provost of the University, called the occasion an example of how “miracles of daily life happen every day” at Fordham.
“Hughes Hall is a superb, state of the art facility that moves us to our next level of excellence. Global interconnection defines today’s business world, and Hughes Hall reflects this dynamic reality,” he said.
Roger A. Milici, Jr., vice president for development and university relations, reflected that it was almost two years to the day that the Gabelli gift was announced at a kick-off eventmarking the college’s joining of Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham. The school’s $60 million campaign includes:
• $30 million for the renovation of Hughes Hall;
• $15 million to create endowed faculty chairs
• $7.5 million for endowed scholarships; and
• $7.5 million for academic initiatives
“Today Hughes Hall is the home of the Gabelli School of Business – a state of the art facility within a beautiful and historic structure,” he said. “We cannot thank you enough for your leadership, support, dedication, and service to Fordham.”