With New York Mets manager Willie Randolph calling on graduates to “dream big dreams,” thousands of jubilant Fordham University students took part in sometimes misty but ever-ebullient Commencement ceremonies at the Rose Hill campus on May 19.
In all, the University conferred bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on some 4,780 students in fields ranging from anthropology to social work—and many of those students broke into loud cheers when Randolph, who delivered the Commencement address, took to the podium.
“I never gave up; if I’d given up, I’d never be at Shea Stadium,” said Randolph, who interviewed for managerial jobs in Major League Baseball 11 times, and was rejected every time, before he was hired as manager of the Mets in November 2004. “If I’d listened to critics along the way, who knows where I’d have wound up. Keep fighting back like I did. Quitting is the easy way out. Whatever your goals in life, it is imperative that you stay focused, determined.”
Randolph’s address at the University 162nd Commencement was particularly special for him because the ceremony included his daughter Ciara, who graduated from Fordham College at Rose Hill. The occasional misting of rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the wildly enthusiastic graduates and more than 10,000 family members and friends.
Randolph also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters, along with William F. Baker, chief executive officer of Educational Broadcasting Corporation, licensee of Thirteen/WNET New York and WLIW21 New York; His Excellency Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; and Joseph Volpe, senior vice president of Giuliani Partners LLC and former general manager of the Metropolitan Opera.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, told the graduates that they “sparkle with talent” and possess “an embarrassment of riches—the riches of strong and supple minds and great and generous hearts.
“On this day of days, the day on which you are rightly celebrated, I want to remind you [of the]biblical quotation … ‘Of those to whom much is given,’—and that would be you—‘much is expected.’ … The God who lavished so much care on you, the University that is proud to claim you as its own and the world that longs for justice all expect that you will lead lives worthy of your own talented selves and the gifts that you have been given: lives marked by self-emptying love, selfless service and the wise use of the transforming wisdom and knowledge that you have gained here at Fordham.”
Randolph, who led the Mets to within one game of the World Series last year, also had an accomplished 18-year playing career, mostly with the New York Yankees.
“As a youngster growing up in the projects in New York, I faced many challenges in pursuing my dreams,” Randolph said. “I grew up in a tough neighborhood. I grew up around alcohol and gangs, but I had people who cared about me and helped me set my compass in the right direction and achieve my dreams.”
Fordham also conferred honorary degrees on His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America; John L. Damonti, M.S.W. (GSS ’85), president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and vice president of corporate philanthropy at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Richard Goldstone, LL.B., former justice of the South African Constitutional Court; and Catherine R. Kinney, president and co-chief operating officer of the New York Stock Exchange Euronext.
Archbishop Demetrios received his honorary degree at a special ceremony at the Rose Hill campus on June 14; Kinney received an honorary degree at the Graduate School of Business Administration diploma ceremony on May 19; Goldstone received an honorary doctorate of laws at the School of Law diploma ceremony on May 20; and Damonti received an honorary degree at the Graduate School of Social Service diploma ceremony on May 22.