On March 30, Fordham University launched the public phase of a far-reaching fundraising campaign in support of new levels of academic excellence at Fordham and greater stature for the University as a nationally prominent center of learning.
Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham seeks $500 million to support new facilities, more student scholarships, more endowed faculty chairs and more funding for academic endeavors throughout Fordham’s colleges and schools.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, announced the campaign before an audience of more than 900 supporters gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan.
“For 168 years, Fordham has always told its sons and daughters to move beyond the limitations or constraints that they feel hold them back,” Father McShane said. “This night, we return the favor. This night, we pay back this institution that embraced us with faith, nurtured us with love and sent us out into the world with hope. This night, we announce the public kickoff of the most ambitious capital campaign in Fordham’s long and storied history.”
Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham seeks new stature for the University by 2016, the 175th anniversary of Fordham’s founding. It comes at a time when the University is climbing sharply in college rankings, gaining more recognition for its academic programs and attracting more of the nation’s top students.
“The campaign for Fordham University will be a transforming experience for this University,” said John Tognino (FCLS ’75), chairman of the Fordham Board of Trustees. “It will be the catalyst to propel us to 2016, when we will be the premier Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States, and it will afford us the opportunity to continue to fulfill our mission, and that is educating men and women of distinction.”
The campaign is more than halfway complete, with $266 million raised. It has been leaving its mark on the University since 2004—during the campaign’s “quiet” phase—in the form of endowed faculty chairs, endowed scholarships and new residence halls being built on the Rose Hill campus.
The campaign has already drawn three gifts of $5 million, four gifts of $7 million and three gifts of $10 million.
The campaign kickoff took place immediately following the Fordham Founder’s Award Dinner, which honored two Fordham benefactors and members of the Board of Trustees—James E. Buckman, Esq. (FCRH ’66) and John P. Kehoe (FCRH ’60, FCLC ’85)—who are also co-chairs of the campaign.
At the event, Father McShane described campaign goals that will bring improvements throughout the University.
Half of the money raised by the campaign will fund academic improvements. That includes $150 million for endowed scholarships and endowed professorships and $100 million in support for various academic endeavors: faculty recruitment and retention; research endowments for faculty; funding for Fordham centers and institutes; and support for academic programs such as on-campus living and learning communities and honors programs.
The University seeks more scholarship funding so it can continue to open its doors to the most academically promising students—now, and in future generations, Buckman said.
“I was very fortunate to be able to attend Fordham via scholarships provided to me by the University as well as by other sources. Had I not received that scholarship help, it would have been very difficult for my parents to send me to Fordham,” he said. “We still have a number of students who are in similar situations.”
Another campaign goal is to add 40 endowed chairs, thereby attracting more of the nation’s top scholars while improving the student-to-faculty ratio and allowing faculty more time for research and mentoring students. The increase is also expected to diversify the fields of academic expertise at Fordham and pave the way for innovative, interdisciplinary programs on topics of current interest, Buckman said.
Fordham wants endowed chairs in science education, immigration and refugee studies, interfaith dialogues and environmental science, among other topics with deep resonance.
The University has set a goal of $80 million in annual support that helps meet emergent needs throughout the University. These gifts, frequently matched by corporations and foundations, help keep tuition down and give the University financial flexibility for meeting new funding challenges.
Some annual gifts are unrestricted, allowing them to be used University-wide, while others may be directed to particular colleges and schools to support research, travel to academic conferences, or other academic needs.
The University has outgrown its facilities since the last campaign, which was pegged to the 150th anniversary of the University in 1991, Kehoe said.
“In the interim, we have not had a campaign to go and fuel the resources of the University and to continue to build it,” he said.
One major project is a new building for Fordham Law School, widely acknowledged as one of the best law schools in the country. It has 1,500 students in a building designed for 650, and its space per student is less than half the amount offered by the nation’s top 20 law schools.
Other improvements sought for the Lincoln Center campus include a 400-bed residence hall and classroom renovations. One campaign goal for the Lincoln Center campus has already been realized: the Veronica Lally Kehoe Studio Theatre, a state-of-the-art facility, dedicated in February, which was made possible by a $2 million gift from Kehoe.
On the Rose Hill campus, the campaign is raising funds for the construction of Campbell, Salice and Conley residence halls, to be built on the southwestern part of campus by 2010.
Groundbreaking for the halls was held last year. The projects are supported by benefactors including Thomas P. Salice (CBA ’82); his wife, Susan Conley Salice (FCRH ’82); Robert E. Campbell (CBA ’55); and his wife, Joan M. Campbell.
A new campus center and a recreation and intercollegiate athletics center will also come to the Rose Hill campus as part of the campaign. The 140,000-square-foot campus center will house campus ministry, student services, a ballroom, a food court and a career planning and placement center, among other features.
The recreation and athletics center—measuring 150,000 square feet—will reconfigure the outmoded Lombardi Memorial Athletic Center and the Rose Hill Gymnasium into a state-of-the-art center for sports and physical fitness.
The facilities projects will cost $170 million.
Kehoe noted that the University already has in place the essential infrastructure of learning—dedicated students and a Jesuit tradition of educational achievement.
“We don’t have the facilities other universities have. But we turn out excellence,” he said.
Apart from the specific improvements being sought, a central part of the campaign is Fordham’s Jesuit identity, with its attention to the full development of each student—intellectual, spiritual and moral—and its emphasis on being men and women for others.
“It’s not just about bricks and mortar, although that’s very important. It’s not just about meeting campaign goals, although that’s very important,” Father McShane said. “It’s really about investing in an institution that has, from its very founding, been all about the work of transforming people, transforming the city, transforming the world and serving God.”
Said Kehoe: “In Fordham, you find not just education, you find a way of being, a way of thinking. There’s love at Fordham. There’s redemption at Fordham. Fordham is a continuing way of life.”