“We are very pleased to announce Dr. Auricchio as Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s new dean,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University. “She brings to the post broad intellectual interests, experience in managing diverse teams, and a proven ability to lead in a rapidly evolving academic landscape. We believe she is a perfect fit for the Lincoln Center community.”
Auricchio holds a Ph.D. in art history and archaeology with a specialty in 18th-century France from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. She has taught art history at Parsons School of Design and the New School since 2004. As a native New Yorker, her academic accomplishments built on childhood and young adult years immersed in the city’s world-class arts institutions—and Yankee Stadium.
“I kind of grew up as an art historian in the 1980s and 1990s. My first job out of college was working at the Museum of Modern Art in the development office,” she said.
She wrote grants for the museum at a time when the National Endowment of the Arts was under attack by then-Senator Jesse Helms for publicly-funded art that he deemed offensive, though others saw the matter to be more about free expression. “My interest in the arts gravitates toward periods of social and political engagement—the French Revolution to movements like ACT UP in the 1980s,” she said. “To my mind, the Jesuit commitment to inquiry and intellectual curiosity and free expression is central to who I am.”
Auricchio grew up in a Catholic household where nuns, some of whom were family members, were as familiar a presence as the arts. Her great grandfather ran a small opera house on the Bowery and even staged an opera production of Verdi’s Aida at Yankee Stadium.
“The arts in New York are literally in my blood,” she said.
But as she rose through the ranks at the New School, Auricchio reached well beyond her interest in arts, bringing arts and sciences together as much as institutionally possible.
“In my current role as vice provost, my job is to foster the building of bridges between colleges and campuses. We have five separate colleges, so we do that by converging around thematics. We may take a general idea like media, for example, and bring together designers, filmmakers, computer scientists, and theoreticians.” she said. “They’re all in different colleges; the question is how do we all come together to create a more vibrant ecosystem.”
Anthony Davidson, Ph.D., dean of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies and chair of the search committee for the new FCLC dean, said that in recommending finalists for the position the committee prioritized candidates with experience in working across disciplines.
“We were looking for candidates who could work with a very, very diverse community in a highly proactive way,” said Davidson. “We wanted them to come from complex organizations that require diplomacy, interpersonal skills, and the ability to move things forward when obstacles get in the way.”
Interim Provost Jonathan Crystal, Ph.D., concurred. He said that Fordham’s complex structure of a shared arts and sciences faculty among several colleges and schools required a candidate willing to collaborate.
“She’s coming from a complex institution and we were looking for a strong champion for the school, but also someone who could work in an effective way with the other deans, in a way that sees strength in unity.”
Auricchio is the recipient of a number of prestigious grants and fellowships, including a Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, a Fulbright Advanced Student Grant and other awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Leadership Grant for Museums, a fellowship research grant from the Earhart Foundation, and a museum program grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. Her book, The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), won the 2015 American Library in Paris Book Award, and she has published peer-reviewed articles in the journals Eighteenth-Century Studies, The Art Bulletin, Art Journal, and Genders, among others.
Despite her commitment to collaboration, Auricchio said that as a researcher, she also understands that there needs to be “a place for deep disciplinary dives,” and more sequestered academic efforts.
“My approach has been opt-in when you can and if you can’t that’s fine,” she said.
Another familiar challenge to Auricchio is fostering community among students drawn to the bright lights of Manhattan.
“We believe that New York is our campus, but on the other hand we all need a sense of community, so figuring out how to establish that in a way that doesn’t feel confining, but feels supportive, is important,” she said.
She recognized that students who come from all over the world to her hometown need time to get acclimated.
“When you get here it can be a scary place,” she said. “There are communities here, smaller communities, they don’t know them yet, they have to learn who they are, where they are… but I want to build on that. I want to know what draws our students together.”