When Salice and Conley Halls rise from the western side of the Rose Hill campus, they will have their foundations in the Jesuit ethic of men and women for others.
Thomas P. Salice, CBA ’82, and Susan Conley Salice, FCRH ’82, who donated $7 million to the University for the new dormitories, met on the “A” train as Fordham undergraduates, chaperoning a group of Bronx schoolchildren to a baseball game. Since then the couple have continued down the track of service to others.
“At Fordham I felt a part of a community that was about education and a sense of responsibility to a broader community,” said Thomas Salice. “We were taught that we had a responsibility to use our talents and gifts as widely as possible. There was a sense of obligation, of duty, to someone other than oneself.”
Salice, a member of Fordham’s Board of Trustees, was the first person in his family to attend college, and Susan Conley Salice was among the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. The word “responsibility” crops up frequently in conversation with the Salices, and both are adamant about the importance of using their gifts to give others the same opportunities they had. Prior to endowing the dormitories, they had given generously to Fordham, and established the Thomas and Susan Conley Salice Scholarship Fund.
“We were always concerned about helping other people,” said Susan Conley Salice, who, in addition to tutoring neighborhood children after school, worked at the McDonald’s on Fordham Road while she was a student. “Tom and I are passionate about Fordham, and when Tom joined the Board, he felt his expertise and experience could benefit the Fordham community. As the capital campaign progressed, we thought a great deal about how to make an important impact. We had many discussions with Father McShane, and in the end it came down to where the need was the greatest.”
The Salices believe giving to the University is all the more important during the current difficult environment. “Given the financial and economic climate, it’s more critical that donors continue to support Fordham. There is no doubt that these are difficult times; there is also no doubt that the University’s need for resources, as well as the needs of others, is greater now then it was before the financial and economic crisis,” they said.
The new residence halls, two towers joined at the base, will provide housing for 460 students. Salice and Conley Halls will together encompass 76,000 square feet and are expected to open their doors to students in June 2010. The dormitories will house integrated learning community seminar rooms that professors can use to teach classes. The new halls will offer students a greater interconnectedness of residential, academic and social life at Fordham.
Susan Conley Salice, one of six children, originally from the Lake George Region, said, “My family life growing up was centered on Catholic values; the belief in hard work, commitment and one’s ability to make a difference.” After 16 years as an executive in the retirement services industry, Conley Salice settled at their home in Westchester County to raise the couple’s three daughters. She became engaged in and led many volunteer activities, which has motivated her to formalize her study in the master’s program in philanthropy and fundraising at New York University.
Thomas Salice is a co-founder and managing member of SFW Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and the chairman of its investment committee. He has nearly 15 years of investment experience in the analytical products and services sectors, and currently serves as lead director of Waters Corporation and Mettler-Toledo International. He largely attributes his interest in finance, and entrée into that world, to Fordham.
“Fordham’s proximity to Manhattan and the financial world opened my eyes to the different disciplines in finance,” Salice said. “The New York City financial community seemed to be a foreign and inaccessible island to me. My father was a carpenter and no one in my family had gone to college, but my parents pushed and inspired me to pursue higher education and a professional career where I could make the best us of my abilities.”
Salice talked himself into a paid internship with what was then Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb Inc., after offering to work for free in the firm’s research department where he was given an assignment to write a report on the seed industry. The report so impressed his superiors that Salice earned a paid internship that carried him through the rest of his Fordham education. He went on to earn an M.B.A. at Harvard University.
Both Thomas and Susan received financial aid and merit scholarships to attend Fordham. They describe themselves as “blessed,” and said the scholarship they endowed was to help “kids like ourselves.” The additional commitment for the dormitories was an opportunity to have the greatest effect and inspiration on future generations of students. The couple chose to name the residence halls in recognition of their parents for their sacrifice and support.
“I often say to our students that I want them to leave Fordham ‘bothered,’” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the University, “bothered by injustice, bothered by poverty, bothered by suffering. With Tom and Sue Salice we have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Their generosity and their commitment is both humbling and deeply gratifying to witness. When someone asks me, ‘What is the value of a Fordham education?’ I have only to point at the Salices and say, ‘There, there it is.’”
“None of this could have happened if we weren’t at Fordham,” Thomas Salice said.