Nominated by their fellow alumni, the award winners were selected by the FUAA Advisory Board. The Ram of the Year Award honors alumni who enhance the reputation of the University through their professional achievements, personal accomplishments, and loyal service to Fordham, and the Trailblazer Award is given to a graduate from the past 10 years who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to Fordham and whose leadership has inspired fellow alumni.
Ensuring College Isn’t a Luxury
Osman, the director of alternatives at Wellington Management, previously served as associate and global alternatives product specialist at JPMorgan Asset Management. He was able to afford Fordham with financial aid and support from the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). And that’s why it’s important to him to pay it forward to other students like him.
“I owe a lot to Fordham, and that’s why I give back however I can,” he told Fordham Magazine in 2020. “There’s a kid in my shoes out there, a kid from the Bronx who isn’t afforded the luxury of being able to pay for college, and that sucks. We should be able to help them out.”
Osman and his family settled in the Bronx when he was a child, having fled Sudan amid military unrest when he was just 3 years old. Today, he’s grateful to Fordham for the “profound impact” it’s had on his life.
“The University has helped mold me into who I am today,” he said. “I can trace my professional success back to that Jesuit curriculum and to my first work-study job at Walsh Library.”
Since graduating, Osman has remained close to the University, by sponsoring receptions for Fordham alumni who work at JPMorgan, for example, serving as a member of the FUAA Advisory Board, and helping launch the Alumni Career Fair.
Osman said he is “deeply grateful for this recognition” and is indebted to Fordham’s faculty and staff for being so dedicated to his “education and personal growth.
“Without their encouragement and belief in me, I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have,” he said.
Cementing Future Opportunity
For decades, the Waltons have been proponents of Catholic education, generously donating their time and resources to make it more accessible to underserved populations.
Jeanette, a native Bronxite, said the Catholic Church shaped her early years, in particular. “[We] didn’t have a lot of money, we didn’t have a lot of the extras, so your life really centered around the church because the church had … all kinds of things,” like an afterschool program, free lunch, and more, she told Fordham’s Bronx Italian American History Initiative in 2019.
After graduating from Cardinal Spellman High School in 1967, she enrolled in Thomas More College, then Fordham’s undergraduate school for women. She earned a B.S. in biology in 1971, and two years later, added an M.S. in the subject from Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. As an undergraduate, she worked on the yearbook staff, eventually becoming editor-in-chief. That’s where she met Jack. She was a sophomore, and he was a first-year student from Ohio, where he had attended St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland.
They were married in the 1970s, and they have stayed close to Fordham through the decades. Two of their three sons—Robert, GABELLI ’01, and Andrew, FCRH ’05—followed in their Fordham footsteps, each earning a degree from the University. And Jack has served as president of the Fordham College Alumni Association.
In 2012, he and Jeanette founded the John C. and Jeanette D. Walton Lecture in Science, Philosophy, and Religion at Fordham “to address the complex issues at the intersection” of the three subjects “in conversations that reach beyond the confines of academia.”
Members of the Archbishop Hughes Society, a group of Fordham’s most magnanimous donors, their support has enriched the University community in numerous ways. They are the principal benefactors of the statue of St. Ignatius Loyola at the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses, as well as of the Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam organ in the University Church. They have contributed to the restoration of science labs at Rose Hill, and in 2017 they established the Walton Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid to high-achieving undergraduates who might otherwise be unable to continue attending Fordham.
A few years ago, the Waltons hosted a presidential reception in Ohio, and they have long been involved in planning Jubilee reunion activities, including outreach to fellow alumni. Jack has served as co-chair of all the reunions of his class since graduating, including his 50th last June.
At the Golden Rams Dinner and Soiree on Friday evening, June 3, he told Fordham News that his fondest Fordham memory was commencement, when he earned a B.S. in chemistry that would enable him to pursue a successful career.
“I felt so lucky to be getting my degree because it was not a given,” he said. “Well, in my mind it was a given, but I still felt very, very lucky.”
This year’s FUAA Recognition Reception will be held on Wednesday, January 18, at the Penn Club of New York from 6 to 8 p.m. Register for the reception on Forever Fordham.