You can go home again.
That was the opinion of more than 1,500 alumni and friends of Fordham who gathered at the Rose Hill campus for Jubilee Weekend 2008.
Attendance at the event, which ran from Friday, May 30, to Sunday, June 1, topped last year’s total by roughly 100 guests. Amidst the barbecues, lectures, ceremonies and banquets, there was another reason to celebrate: from the Golden Rams through the Class of 2003, Fordham alumni gave more than $14 million in honor of their Jubilee reunions.
“Jubilee is by far the largest alumni relations event we stage each year,” said Mary R. Nolin (FCRH ’06), alumni officer and reunion coordinator. “We solicit suggestions afterward to make each year better than the last.”
For instance, WFUV’s new headquarters in the basement of Keating Hall was the most popular stop on last year’s campus tour, so this year the radio station offered its own tour separate from the regular campus excursions.
As another example, Nolin responded to a request from the Class of 1968 for a special dinner on campus—even though the class is still 10 years away from their 50th anniversary reunion.
Variety is the watchword when planning Jubilee Weekend, and this year was no different, with events to nourish body, mind and spirit. Alumni and their families broke bread and shared stories, learned about the state of the University in a special session with Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, and celebrated Mass at the University Church, as they did when they were students, among many other events.
The University took a break from the celebration and camaraderie to honor the greatest heroes of its first 100 years. Eighteen names—those belonging to Fordham’s founder, its first president and 16 alumni and other notables—comprised the first set of inductees into the University’s Hall of Honor.
The hall is located in the main corridor of the administration building on the Rose Hill campus. It was dedicated on Saturday by Father McShane and a gathering of trustees, alumni and guests.
“The hall was established to recognize alumni and alumnae whose lives have exemplified and brought recognition to the ideals to which the University is devoted,” said John P. Kehoe (FCLC ’85, FCRH ’60), a member of Fordham’s Board of Trustees, “ideals which are manifested in its enduring commitment to educating men and women for others.”
Inductees included giants of sport, archbishops and cardinals of the church, military leaders, men of arts, letters and science, politicians and business leaders.
All in all, the Jubilee offerings set the tone for guests to recall their college days, reconnect with friends and toast the past, present and future of their alma mater.
“This is my ninth Jubilee, and I can tell you that this was the best one yet,” said Peggy Pospisil, Fordham’s director of alumni relations. “I’m always impressed and delighted by the energy and enthusiasm alumni bring to the event.”
At the President’s Club cocktail reception on Saturday evening, all glasses were raised in honor of William D. Walsh (FCRH ’51), and his late wife, Jane. The University took the opportunity to unveil a portrait of the Walshes that will hang in their
namesake library at Rose Hill.
“It makes me smile to think that this portrait will quietly urge Fordham students yet to come to work and play and give as mom and dad have done,” said Deborah Hirsch, daughter of William and Jane Walsh.
Ensuring that the three-day affair went off without a hitch were scores of student volunteers, who Nolan credits with making the weekend successful year after year.
“The students are there from 7 a.m. to midnight for three days,” she said. “They’re the ones that the alumni love to talk to, and our students are very good about answering questions about events or where to go next.”
Nolin, who already has begun to plan Jubilee Weekend 2009, said she is considering special events celebrating the 150th anniversary of Fordham baseball and the 40th anniversary of the Graduate School of Business Administration, among others.