The 2009-2010 academic year was one of significant firsts at Fordham, and marked the beginning of a new sense of mission among members of the University community, top administrators said on Oct. 4.
“At Fordham and at every Jesuit university around the world, we have a calling,” said Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., provost of the University. “Our shared vision is of a vibrant academic community that values open dialogue and shared reflection.”
Freedman outlined five other goals for the Fordham community, including greater diversity; a stronger voice for underrepresented groups; broadening research and scholarship opportunities; building core values and strengths; and developing a spirit of trust, accountability and respect in the pursuit of academic excellence.
Delivering the annual State of the University address to faculty and administrators, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, detailed the University’s historic achievements in rankings, donor gifts and research funding. What was remarkable, he said, was that such milestones occurred in a challenging global economy.
“The last two years have been hard,” Father McShane told the audience at the 12th Annual Faculty Convocation at Rose Hill. “We have all shared in some hardship as a result of the downturn. But in spite of that downturn, thanks to the diligence and generosity of all members of the University community and everyone who loves Fordham, we remain strong.”
Of particular significance, he said, were advancements in three areas:
• Fordham received the largest gift in its history from Mario Gabelli (GSB ’65), who gave $25 million to the College of Business Administration, which will be renamed the Gabelli School of Business.
• Fordham was named No. 56 among national universities by U.S. News & World Report, its best showing in the history of the U.S. News rankings, and went from No. 63 to No. 31 in the Washington Monthly rankings.
• Fordham faculty members brought in more research funding from outside sources than ever before, with $23.1 million in new grant money and $38.6 million in long-range funding. In addition, with the help of the Office of Research, 28 percent more of the faculty applied for outside funding than did last year.
There were several other areas of improvement at Fordham. In fundraising for fiscal year 2010, the University had its third-best showing, bringing in $59.7 million. As of June 30, Fordham had raised $337.6 million toward Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham, its $500 million fundraising effort. The campaign was running ahead of its goals in alumni participation, law school fundraising and contributions from trustees.
Enrollment trends were extremely healthy, Father McShane said, with record applications in the 2009-2010 admissions cycle, an average GPA of 3.68 for incoming freshmen and an increase in the average freshman SAT score from 1240 to 1249.
Geographically, the Class of 2014 is more diverse than ever, as Fordham solidifies its reputation as a national university. This year, the University reached a historic low of 19 percent of freshmen hailing from New York City, while California emerged as Fordham’s fourth-largest feeder state.
Father McShane called it a “great triumph” that Fordham already has met its strategic goal of 30 percent ethnic diversity before the 2016 deadline.
“Approximately 32 percent of our entering class comes from traditionally underrepresented groups in American society,” Father McShane said. “I hope Fordham will expand that as we go forward.”
Due to savvy financial oversight, said Father McShane, at the end of fiscal year 2010 Fordham realized a surprisingly healthy budget surplus of $12.8 million. The surplus money will be reinvested in three areas:
• completing the transformation of Hughes Hall into a new home for the Gabelli School;
• upgrading scientific laboratories throughout the campus; and
• enhancing academic life at the University through a special academic affairs endowment to be administered by Freedman.
Father McShane also outlined an upcoming revised budget process designed to include input from individual deans, schools and departments. He also reiterated the streamlining of the University’s administrative structure.
One area where the University is in need of improvement, said Father McShane, is in the size of its endowment. Although the endowment grew at a robust 14.8 percent last fiscal year, to $428 million, it remains down from its historical high just above $500 million. In fact, said Father McShane, of the schools ranked 70 and better in U.S. News & World Report, Fordham’s endowment was the smallest.
“What I make of this is that we have a faculty and administration whose day-by-day work has made this [ranking]possible,” he said.
Other outstanding achievements include the following:
• Faculty published 245 books, 333 articles and gave 927 presentations at scholarly conferences.
• Students earned 125 prestigious scholarships and fellowships, including one of 65 Truman Scholarships in the nation.
• Fordham College at Lincoln Center had a 100 percent medical school acceptance rate in its pre-med program.
The most important task that lies ahead for the University, said Father McShane, is to continue to build its reputation.
“In the past 15 years, Fordham has really come a long way,” he said. “[But] you know our dream is that Fordham reclaim a position of prominence in American higher education, and ultimately a position as the preeminent Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States. There is much left to do.”
He outlined four goals for the University: enhance its academic standing; complete the Hughes Hall project at Rose Hill; begin construction on a new law school and new dormitory space at the Lincoln Center campus; and raise $60 million in fiscal year 2011.
“I know the faculty, deans and administration will all work together to achieve the primary goals,” Father McShane said. “Fordham is strong. Let us pray that we become even stronger.”