For years, Fordham University has enjoyed a dynamic domestic alumni relations program, which today boasts more than 30 chapters in 20 states and one in Puerto Rico.
But on March 7, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, heads to Paris for the inaugural reception of Fordham’s first alumni chapter in mainland Europe.
According to the Office of Alumni Relations, there is a buzz abroad.
“We’re seeing an increasing presence of Fordham alumni overseas,” said Sara Hunt, alumni relations officer for regional chapters. “In the past few years, we’ve taken our regional chapters to a higher level; now we’re ready to tap our international base.”
The office estimates that roughly 5,000 Fordham alumni are living and working in foreign countries, many of them graduates from the schools of business administration. In addition to Paris, recent requests for alumni chapters have come from Dublin, Ireland, Bejing, China and the Philippines.
“The alumni office identifies areas where a chapter will benefit the local community as well as the University,” Hunt said. “We’re looking for local volunteers to help keep alumni connected to Fordham.”
William Chegwidden (FCRH ’82), CEO of Paris-based translation firm Cheg Traductions, Inc., said he advanced the Paris chapter as a means to pay homage to the Jesuit education he received and help future Fordham students (including his daughter, Mary, who is a freshman) stay in touch.
“Having a Fordham chapter in France affords me the opportunity to extend, in a small way, one of the most passionate times in my life,” he said.
For Alexandra Pribilovics (FCRH ’04), president of the burgeoning Beijing chapter, having an alumni group provided a networking forum to learn more about China and a chance to continue being “men and women for others,” she said.
“I believe that with privilege comes responsibility,” Pribilovics said. “I am using my opportunity as Fordham club president to continue to practice and live that philosophy.”
The increase in alumni activity corresponds with the update of the alumni website, making for easier navigation, and a monthly e-newsletter that has been launched to distribute the latest alumni news, Hunt said. The office also anticipates a rise in alumni activity with the January launch of FordhamCircle, a new social networking site that enables graduates to find old classmates, start a job post or reconnect with old friends.
The Alumni Office will kick off its overseas trip with an event in Dublin with John Tognino (FCLS ’75), chairman of Fordham’s Board of Trustees. Father McShane will join the group in London on March 6—there are approximately 220 Fordham graduates living in the UK. All Fordham alumni living in Europe have been invited to attend either the London or the Paris gathering.
Peggy Pospisil, director of alumni relations, points out that the benefits of alumni networking abroad are even more pronounced, where the challenges of foreign languages and social customs (not to mention the sheer distance from home) can make a college connection seem like a lifeline in a sea of strange faces. It also strengthens Fordham’s presence, positioning it as a university with an international reputation.
“Having international chapters only enhances Fordham’s global reputation,” Pospisil said, “as the alumni become the University’s unofficial ambassadors abroad.”