The eighth annual Fordham Founder’s Award Dinner was an evening of excitement and gratitude, and a celebration of the University’s promising future.
More than 900 Fordham alumni and friends filled the Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom on March 30 to honor a pair of outstanding graduates.
James E. Buckman, Esq. (FCRH ’66) and John P. Kehoe (FCRH ’60, FCLC ’85), received this year’s Fordham Founder’s Award.
In addition, the annual gala raised $2 million this year for the Fordham Founder’s Presidential Scholarship Fund.
“I cannot begin to describe the influence Fordham has had on my life—internships, international studies, the Bronx, the city, the friendships. These have been the best four years of my life thanks to your generous support,” said scholarship recipient Elizabeth Davis, a senior in the College of Business Administration.
“On behalf of all the scholars, I want to thank you all so very much for believing in us … and for inspiring us to continue in your efforts to serve the Fordham family,” she said.
The night began with an invocation by Edward Cardinal Egan, archbishop of New York, who received the President’s Medal from Fordham, and ended with the launch of Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham—a $500 million fundraising effort.
“I want to thank you for the immense good that you do in this sector of the Lord’s vineyard,” said Cardinal Egan, who will step down as archbishop of New York this month. “This is my last dinner, but … you have, and always will have, a special place in my prayers.”
Upon receiving the Founder’s Award, Buckman, a member of the Fordham Board of Trustees, the President’s Council and co-chair of the campaign, said he was immensely proud to be included in the company of past recipients, whom he called exceptional men and women.
He expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to receive a Fordham education, something many in his family, including his daughter, an uncle, two brothers, a cousin, niece and grandniece have also done.
“It’s been a long journey since I stepped off the Bronx 20 bus at Bathgate Avenue in September 1958 at the age of 13, and set foot on the Rose Hill campus as a freshman at Fordham Prep,” Buckman said. “I had eight wonderful years on that campus and my formation as a man, in great measure, was set by the Jesuit priests and scholastics I encountered while I was there.”
Buckman holds a law degree from Yale. He served as an officer in the Connecticut and Georgia Air National Guards and the United States Air Force Reserve. Today, he is vice chairman of York Capital Management.
Kehoe, a member of the University Board of Trustees and President’s Council, and co-chair of the campaign, began as a Rose Hill undergraduate, continued his studies at the School of Education’s evening program, and then received a bachelor’s degree from Fordham College at Lincoln Center.
“My very long experience at Fordham has been an extraordinary gift in my life,” he said. “I’m grateful to so many of you for so much, and to the Jesuits, both in New York and in Rome. They have been there for so many blessings that have marked my life.”
Kehoe has served the University in several ways. In 2008, he donated $2 million to renovate the Black Box Studio Theatre on the Lincoln Center campus into a state-of-the-art facility in honor of his late wife, Veronica Lally Kehoe (FCLC ’02).
He is a senior adviser at Abernathy MacGregor Group, specializing in financial transaction communications strategy and crisis management.
Fordham luminaries in attendance included bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark (FCLC ’79); Charles Osgood (FCRH ’54), legendary broadcaster and anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning; Ann Mara, wife of the late New York Giants owner Wellington Mara (FCRH ’37); and retired General John M. Keane (CBA ’66), former vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army.
William F. Baker, Ph.D., president emeritus of WNET and Claudio Acquaviva, S.J., Chair and Journalist in Residence in the Graduate School of Education, was the master of ceremonies.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, thanked the attendees for supporting the University’s mission.
“For 168 years, Fordham, the realization of Archbishop Hughes’ dream, has worked its magic,” Father McShane said. “For 168 years, Fordham has embraced its students with faith, both in them and in the transforming power of education.
“It has nurtured them with love. It has sent them out into the world with the hope that they would—as Archbishop Hughes believed they could—do the world a world of good. In the process, it has always taught its students to seek the higher things: a better world, a deeper faith, ever more loving service of others, and the greater glory of God.”