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Toward 2016: Progress Report


By Donald A. Gillespie, Ph.D.
With Jennifer A. Lee

April 15, 2008

In December 2005, the Fordham University Board of Trustees approved Toward 2016, a 10-year comprehensive strategic plan, which identified seven ambitious “Transforming Initiatives” that would build on Fordham’s strengths to “return to a position of recognized national prominence in the world of American higher education,” as outlined in the University’s 2004 Vision Statement. The University’s ultimate goal, for 2016 and beyond, is to reclaim its position as the premier Catholic university in the nation.

The University leadership recognized that the Transforming Initiatives would require substantial external funding, which was built into the strategic plan. Five Supporting Initiatives were also identified, to be funded incrementally from existing resources until overall progress on strategic goals would warrant giving them a higher priority.

Transforming Initiative I

Infusing Undergraduate Education with New Energy, Focus, Rigor and Quality

elevatorFordham seeks to improve undergraduate education through five initiatives: refreshing the core curriculum; establishing living and learning communities to nurture and challenge our students; increasing the quality and diversity of the freshman class; creating challenging programs for gifted and motivated students; and developing interdisciplinary science programs.

Toward 2016 identified specific goals for each of these initiatives, but the plan set one ambitious overall goal against which the University would measure its progress: that Fordham’s undergraduate program would rank in the top 25 nationally.

Each year, U.S. News & World Report (U.S. News) publishes the most well-known rating of undergraduate programs, in which Fordham’s is ranked among universities that provide education from the bachelor’s through the doctoral level. In the last five years, the University’s rank has risen from 84th to 67th. (See Figure 1.)

It is important to note that some of the measures of progress used in this report fluctuate from year to year. The size of changes and the trend over several years are better indicators of progress than annual shifts.

Focus the Core Curriculum more sharply on the primacy of the Ignatian tradition
and support it with a Center for Teaching Excellence.

After soliciting suggestions from students, faculty members and administrators, a core curriculum development committee led by Fred Wertz, Ph.D., professor of psychology and department chair, and Richard Gyug, Ph.D., professor of history, has developed a proposal for a new core, which the faculty has just approved.

In February 2008, the University established the Center for Teaching Excellence, headed by Anne Mannion, Ph.D., associate professor of history. Christopher Toulouse, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of political science and the center’s program director, will oversee its day-to-day operations. The center will assist the faculty by promoting conversations among teachers about effective pedagogy and providing ongoing professional development in the art of teaching.

Supporting Initiative: Create an undergraduate Living and Learning environment
that nurtures students and challenges them to mature academically, spiritually,
and socially.

Between fall 2005 and 2007, the number of students participating in learning communities increased from 148 to 579 at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center. (See Figure 2.) Since 2005, the Offices of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Mission and Ministry collaborated to establish three new residential communities, each with different emphases.

Beginning in 2006, these offices introduced a program at Lincoln Center to integrate commuter and residential students. (The freshman class is equally divided between the two groups.) The program is organized into learning clusters of five students and freshman seminars of four clusters, and commuter students are affiliated with a particular floor of the residence hall. Student surveys indicated that the program developed closer learning relationships among faculty, commuter students, and residents. In fall 2008, the entire entering freshman class will participate in this program.

At Rose Hill, a residential college has operated at Queens Court for more than a decade. Last year, the University introduced a Science Integrated Learning Community (SILC), in which all the participants are enrolled in science courses and are housed on a single floor of Alumni Court South. Fordham has created physical space in which freshman science students can find a support network among their peers, allowing them to form study groups and help each other with class projects and homework. SILC students also benefit from peer mentoring provided by the resident assistants and tutors, who are upperclass science majors or pre-health students. Grades in first year biology and chemistry courses were higher for students in SILC compared with non-SILC freshmen and upperclassmen enrolled in the same course. (See Figure 3.) This year Fordham has expanded SILC by providing sophomores with an opportunity to continue living in an integrated learning environment.

In addition, the University has transformed Tierney Hall, both physically and programmatically, to establish a residential college in which students live and learn in a community that includes staff from the Office of Student Affairs and a chaplain. This learning community is home to a pilot program of 10 innovative “Manresa” seminars taught by some of Fordham’s finest teacher-scholars, who also serve as academic advisers and mentors to the students. Students who join this community choose to take one of these seminars. The University expects to offer the Manresa program more broadly in the future.

Finally, in fall 2009, Fordham will launch an Integrated Learning Community created around the theme of developing global business leaders, open to sophomores at the College of Business Administration and Fordham College at Rose Hill sophomores with business minors.

Become even more highly selective in recruiting the freshman class,
and have a more diverse class.

To train leaders for society, the University must recruit and enroll students who have demonstrated leadership potential through academic, extracurricular or athletic accomplishments prior to entering Fordham. Furthermore, to remain true to Fordham’s historic mission, the University must recruit from the ranks of first-generation students, minority groups and the economically disadvantaged. The University must also increase its geographic diversity by enrolling more students from abroad, and from outside the northeast. The University plans to achieve these goals by raising additional funds for financial aid, strengthening its programs and improving its communications materials to enhance the public perceptions of the University.

Improve Selectivity. Fordham is fortunate to be building on many years of experience developing very successful admissions and financial aid programs. While the number of high school graduates each year has increased by about 33 percent since 1991, applications to Fordham have increased by almost 500 percent, and the University’s acceptance rate has dropped from 76 to 42 percent. (See Figure 4.) Over this time Fordham has improved the academic quality of the entering class: in the last 10 years, the mean SAT score has risen from 1149 to 1223, and the percentage of freshmen who were in the top 25 percent of their high school classes has increased from 68 percent to 78 percent. By 2016, the University hopes to further improve these figures to 1350 to 1400, and 80 percent, respectively. (See Figure 5 and Figure 6.)

Increase Diversity. Over the same period, Fordham has increased the diversity of the entering class. The percentage of entering freshmen from outside New York state has risen from 49 to 53 percent in the last five years. By 2016, the University expects that 30 percent of new students will be from minority or international backgrounds. Since 2002, the percentage of minority students in the freshman class has risen from 23 to 25 percent, while the international representation has increased almost one percentage point to 3 percent.

Strengthen the Financial Aid Program. Financial aid has played an important role in enabling Fordham to make progress on these goals. Seventy-nine percent of all undergraduates at Fordham receive financial aid from some source. Seventy-four percent of all undergraduates receive a scholarship or grant from Fordham.

Since most students receive aid from Fordham, it is not surprising that 81 percent of the funds for scholarships and grants to undergraduates come from Fordham resources. A relatively small proportion of aid, 19 percent, comes from the federal, state, or external private sources. (See Table 1.)

Of the Fordham funded grants and scholarships, 84 percent go to need- and merit-based grants and scholarships, 11 percent to athletic scholarships, and 5 percent to tuition remission, a fringe benefit awarded to Fordham employees. (The University counts tuition remission as aid because many recipients would qualify for financial aid.) Most (84 percent) of the Fordham-funded scholarship and grant money given to undergraduates meets financial need, which is the difference between the cost of attending Fordham and the amount that a family is expected to contribute based on its income and assets. The remaining 16 percent is used to create incentives for especially talented students to enroll. (See Table 2.)

Support the most gifted and motivated students.

If Fordham enrolls more qualified students than it has in the past, the University must provide educational programs that challenge them. Here the focus is on three initiatives.

Expand Honors Programs. In fall 2007, the College of Business Administration inaugurated a four-year Global Business Honors Program that will include academic, experiential and personal development and relationship-building components. The highly selective program offers honors courses in both liberal arts and business disciplines, faculty directed research, internships, international travel and alumni and upperclass mentoring.

During the past academic year, the Fordham College at Rose Hill Honors Program made major progress toward its goal of doubling in size, with its entering class having grown more than 75 percent, from 21 students last year to this year’s class of 37. Future growth will be incremental, as Fordham College strives to maintain the quality of the honors experience for the students. The program also expanded in two other ways: in its service to the wider College, by offering for the first time a series of seminars on Ignatian education open to all juniors and seniors; and in its greater involvement of alumni in the life of the program, by inviting them to a series of honors events throughout the year and at Jubilee weekend.

Fordham College at Lincoln Center has focused on deepening the academic experience of honors students. One faculty member advises students in each class through their four years. An innovative, interdisciplinary math/science course in first year has led a number of honors students to become science majors, and the honors seminar room was renovated in 2006 to create a more suitable atmosphere for the program.

Perhaps the best example of the depth of the Honors experience at Lincoln Center can be seen in the sophomore honors seminar on New York City last fall. The seminar focused on the South Street Seaport and resulted in a website addressing the entire history of the seaport from multiple dimensions. A link to the project can be found on the Fordham College at Lincoln Center home page.

Encourage and Support Applications for Prestigious Fellowships. The University has enlarged and strengthened the St. Edmund Campion Institute for the Advancement of Intellectual Excellence, which prepares students with the potential to successfully compete for prestigious fellowships. The number of fellowships that students win has been increasing each year for the last five years. (See Figure 7.)

Improve Pre-Professional Advising Programs. Under the leadership of Donna Heald, Ph.D., director of pre-health professions advising and associate dean for science education at Fordham College at Rose Hill, and Grace Vernon, Ph.D., professor of biology and pre-health adviser at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, Fordham has provided more comprehensive guidance to pre-health students early in their undergraduate careers. Advising incoming pre-health students begins even before students arrive for the fall semester, with open house events for admitted students and sessions during freshman orientation. First semester freshman pre-health students enroll in a Pre-Health Symposium allowing them to benefit from weekly advising sessions during their first semester of college. The process continues in group and individual sessions throughout all four years with students receiving very specific guidance on making curricular and timing choices, finding medically related opportunities, gaining volunteer experience and preparing for standardized exams such as the MCAT.

For many years Fordham has operated the Collegiate Science and Technology Entrance Program (CSTEP), a state-funded program to assist New York state residents who are members of underrepresented minority groups or who are economically disadvantaged to gain entry into science, technical, engineering, math fields (STEM) and health and other licensed professions. Of 48 graduates of the program in 2006, 10 immediately enrolled in graduate school, three in medical school, and another in a podiatry program. Thirty students pursued careers in STEM and other fields. Owing to the success of this program, the state of New York doubled its funding to Fordham and enabled CSTEP to open offices at the Lincoln Center campus. At the same time, the University supplemented state funding to extend the resources of the program to residents of other states, greatly expanding its services to minority and financially disadvantaged students throughout the University. Participation in CSTEP has increased from 160 students in fall 2005 to 210 in fall 2007, with 60 enrolling at Lincoln Center. CSTEP expects to graduate 59 students in 2008. Of these, 17 are applying to professional or graduate schools in science, technical and health programs.

Overall, the results of Fordham’s pre-professional programs have been quite encouraging. In 2006, students achieved a 93 percent acceptance rate into medical school, exceeding the University’s goal of 75 percent. Seventy-nine percent of Fordham applicants to law school gained admission, close to the University’s goal of 85 percent. (See Table 3.)

Establish Interdisciplinary Science Programs.

Cross-disciplinary research is an increasingly common aspect of the sciences. To enable Fordham graduates to better compete for entry into master’s and doctoral programs, and to conduct advanced research, the University is developing interdisciplinary science programs: Fordham began offering a course in bioinformatics at Fordham College at Lincoln Center in fall 2006 and at Rose Hill in fall 2007. The science faculty is developing a minor in bioinformatics, as well as a new major in environmental science.

Increase the Graduation Rate

Toward 2016 identifies broad measures of progress for undergraduates. One of these is the graduation rate, which the University seeks to raise to 85 percent. The University’s current graduation rates compare favorably to those of other institutions. Fordham graduation rates for majority students, members of minority groups, and those in the Higher Education Opportunity Program are higher than the averages of other institutions in New York state. (See Table 4.)

Transforming Initiative II

Advancing the School of Law to Rank in the Top 15 Nationally

Toward 2016 states that the University’s ultimate goal is “to move the Law School to the level of accomplishment and recognition that warrants ranking as one of the 15 best in the nation.” The Law School has advanced its position in recent years to achieve the rank of 25th of 184 law schools in the U.S. News rating, which was based on fall 2006 data. This was up from 32nd the year before. (See Figure 8.)

Develop Academic Programs. Fordham is continuing to develop three academic areas that are central to the direction in which the legal profession is moving, fields in which the University already has great strength, and which build on the advantage of Fordham’s New York location. Those areas are international law, in which Fordham ranks 11th in the nation (U.S. News); business law, in which the University ranks 20th (according to Lieter); and information or intellectual property law, in which Fordham ranks 23rd (U.S. News).

Strengthen Faculty. Fordham is appointing exceptional graduates of leading law schools to the faculty. (See Table 5.) In addition, the University has established seven new endowed law professorships between 2003 and 2008, and continues to seek funding for more.

Improve Student-Faculty Ratio. In recent years, Fordham has also steadily improved its student-faculty ratio. (See Figure 9.)

Fortify the Student Body. Fordham is improving the quality and diversity of the Law School’s student body through national recruiting, scholarships and enhanced financial aid and loan programs. One measure of academic strength is the median score of enrolled students on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), the scores on which range from 120 to 180. Between 1998 and 2007, the University raised the median score from 163 to 166, and the percentile of these scores has risen from 88.5 to 93.4. (See Figure 10.)

generic2In addition, the University has substantially increased the geographic diversity of the Law School student body. For the first time, in fall 2007, the majority of entering law students were from outside New York state. The proportion of new students has increased from 37 percent in 1998 to 53 percent in 2007.

Financial Support for the Law School and New Law School Building. The alumni and benefactors of the Law School have been generous in their contributions to support the programs of the Law School as well as the construction of a new Law School Building. Contributions to the Law School were particularly large during the year that marked the 100th anniversary of its founding. (See Figure 11.)

Supporting Initiative: Promoting Excellence in Selected Graduate and Professional Programs-Graduate School of Business Administration

Toward 2016 calls for the Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA) to redesign its full- and part-time MBA programs, to develop an master’s in Finance and other niche programs, to continue to leverage international programs, and to strengthen its faculty and student body. As a result of these improvements, it set a goal for GBA’s full-time program to rank in the top 50 nationally and for its part-time program to rank in the top 10.

Advance Ranks of GBA Programs. There are numerous ratings of MBA programs. U.S. News and the Wall Street Journal publish two prominent ratings. In 2007, Fordham’s full-time program ranked 77th nationally in U.S. News; the part-time program was below 30. GBA ranked 27th regionally in theWall Street Journal. (See Table 6.)

Develop Curricular Programs. GBA has developed new curricular programs in recent years. A new master’s degree in quantitative finance was approved in spring 2007, and a highly qualified inaugural class of students began study in the fall. (See Table 7.)

Leverage International Alliances and Programs. GBA has established a new China consortium with the Universities of Leuven and Dublin and the Esade Business School. It has also established Gateway programs with nine international business schools by which students at the foreign schools visit Fordham.

Strengthen Faculty. The College and Graduate Schools of Business Administration are recruiting new and established scholars for regular appointments to the business faculty and to endowed chairs. Fordham recently received a $3.5 million donation to establish the E. Gerald Corrigan Chair in International Business and Finance. The Business faculty continues to publish prolifically: indeed, in 2006-2007 it published 125 articles, books and chapters, up from 56 in the previous year.

Increase Student Quality. Between fall 2005 and fall 2007, GBA has succeeded in raising the average GMAT scores of full- and part-time students by approximately 20 points. Acceptance rates have dropped slightly for part-time students, to 68 percent in 2007, while acceptance rates for full-time students have been much lower, 49 percent for two of the last three years. (See Figure 12.)

Transforming Initiative III

Developing a Distinguished Faculty

Toward 2016 gives development of the Fordham faculty a prominent place among the strategic initiatives: “We recognize that the true measure of a University’s success in achieving excellence is stepsits ability to attract and retain a faculty distinguished for teaching and scholarship.” The University is taking several steps to increase the financial support for the faculty and to enhance their teaching and research, and to increase research sponsored with funds from outside the University.

Reduce Teaching Load.Fordham is reducing teaching loads from six to five courses a year, enabling faculty to spend more time conducting research and meeting with students outside of class. The University is phasing in the reduction in teaching loads—critical to recruiting and retaining promising and accomplished scholars—so that it will be complete in 2011.

Develop a Culture of Grantsmanship. Toward 2016 sets a goal for grant funding to reach $75 to $90 million by 2011. Fordham has reorganized the Office of Research and hired new staff to support the faculty in obtaining external grants for research. Grant awards have risen from $20 million to $32 million between 2004 to 2007—a 60 percent increase, and the number of applications for grants has also risen. It is surprising in the light of these increases that the number of awards has dropped slightly. (See Figure 13.)

Transforming Initiative IV

Developing Campus Resources

tech_1The University’s ability to develop new academic, co-curricular and extracurricular programs to serve its students has been seriously constrained by space limitations at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses, and Fordham’s use of space is at capacity by any nationally recognized measure. The number of persons per square foot of space at the Lincoln Center campus far exceeds that of any other educational institution in the New York metropolitan area. Apart from residence halls and Walsh Family Library, Fordham has made few additions to serve its increasing residential population and growing faculty.

Building at Lincoln Center. The University has contracted to sell a parcel of land at Lincoln Center to provide funds to support its endowment and construction program. Fordham expects to close the sale in late 2008. Fordham is in the process of obtaining the necessary certifications and approvals for a build-out of the Lincoln Center campus; the University expects to break ground in late 2008 for a building that will house the Law School and a 400-bed residence hall for undergraduates. Later additions to the campus will include new recreational and athletic facilities, a student center and a library.

Construction at Rose Hill. Fordham plans to break ground on a 450-bed dormitory this spring, and is developing plans for a new student center, recreational and athletic facilities and a science building.

Develop technology infrastructure. The University has made substantial progress in modernizing its information systems and deploying instructional technology. A sophisticated computer program, Blackboard, is available to support instruction, to provide electronic class materials and assignments, and to facilitate communication between students and faculty members. In addition, Fordham has upgraded hardware and software. Wireless connectivity is available at virtually all locations at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center, and the University has increased available bandwidth, more than doubling it in the last two years. (See Figure 14.) A large effort is now underway to phase in a single information system that will serve most of the administrative needs of the University.

Develop state-of-the-art instructional space. In the last decade, through renovation or new construction, Fordham has installed smart technology in 157 classrooms. One hundred of these were added since 2003. (See Figure 15.)

Transforming Initiative V

Promoting Activities that Bear Our Mission’s Stamp, Increase Our Visibility

Regionally and Nationally and Create New Partnerships

seminar_trioFordham plans to establish itself as a center for intellectual exchange, especially on matters of religion and culture, in the City of New York and the nation by developing centers and partnerships that support its mission. While the strategic plan notes that these mission-related initiatives focus primarily on existing activities, the University will extend and promote them to make its mission more apparent to the public.

Extend Discussions of Religion and Culture. In order to enhance research and public discussions of religion and culture at Fordham, the University seeks to build endowments to support the Bertram M. Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty, the Center for Religion and Culture, the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies and a yet to be established “Trialogue Project,” a seminar among scholars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Develop Local Affiliations. Fordham has established a new joint degree program, offering a Master of Science in Teaching program in Biology and Conservation Life Science for grades 7 through 12 in collaboration with Wildlife Conservation Society (The Bronx Zoo).

Expand International Agreements. Fordham has been invigorating and expanding its international programs for many years. In August 2008, an Office of International Initiatives was established to coordinate and support these efforts.

In recent years, Fordham established international linkages with the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and with Jesuit universities, including Iberoamericana (Mexico), Saint Joseph (Lebanon) and Esada (Spain). The College of Business Administration joined the U.N. Global Compact, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences joined the Equator Initiative of the U.N. Development Program. The Law School has established academic and student exchanges with the European University Institute in Fiesole (Italy); the University of Alcalá de Henares in Madrid, and the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing.

Fordham is relocating its London Dramatic Academy to Heythrop College in Kensington Square. At this new location, the University expects to offer programs for liberal arts students during the fall term, CBA students in the spring, and all students in the summer.

Transforming Initiative VI

Communications and University Image

tee_shirtFor Fordham to achieve its vision, it is essential that the University marshal widespread support for its strategic initiatives among the members of the Fordham community and raise the University’s profile in the public arena.

The Office of Marketing and Communications (renamed from Public Affairs in 2006), has initiated a true integrated marketing plan, which includes University branding, insuring that Fordham’s message is more focused. It has also instituted a comprehensive program to use consistent logos and images in internal publications, enrollment materials, advertising, marketing materials, academic publications and the University website.

Marketing and Communications has also markedly improved the University’s newsgathering and promotion of Fordham activities and achievements. Using the University’s enhanced technological resources, the department established electronic and print channels of communication with all members of the Fordham community, students, faculty, staff and alumni. Marketing and Communications distributes Today at Fordham Spotlight, a daily calendar of University events; a daily roundup of Fordham mentions in the news media; the quarterly alumni magazine FORDHAM Magazine, recently redesigned and enhanced; and Inside Fordham, which returned to print as a biweekly publication in September 2006.

The Office of Alumni Relations has developed InCircle, an Internet social networking program for alumni, and with Marketing and Communications, publishes @lumni News, a monthly alumni e-newsletter.

Finally, Marketing and Communications has begun aggressively raising the University’s profile in the news media in three broad categories: singular events, such as noted speakers and special honors; programmatic coverage, such as feature stories on unique or innovative programs; and the recruitment and promotion of faculty experts in print, broadcast and new media.

Transforming Initiative VII

Growth and Wise Stewardship of Enabling Resources

Much of the strategic plan’s execution hinges upon having or developing sufficient resources. Toward that end, the University set the following goals.

booksGrow the Endowment to $1 Billion by 2011 and to $2 Billion by 2016. Owing to wise investment and good stock market performance, by the end of fiscal year 2007, the endowment had grown to $513 million. (See Figure 16.)

Build Annual Alumni Participation Rates to 35 percent for the Undergraduate Programs and the Law School. Alumni participation for reachable undergraduate alumni has risen from 13 percent to 22 percent from fiscal year 2004 to 2007. (See Figure 17.) In fiscal year 2007, 19 percent of Law School alumni contributed.

Complete a $500 Million Capital Campaign by 2011, and Continue Fundraising Activities Beyond that Date. The University has raised $174.2 million toward the 2011 goal. (See Figure 18 for annual contributions.)

“If we are to achieve the bold dreams that we have set for ourselves as we prepare to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the University’s founding, we must do all that we can to seek the financial resources that will enable us to move into the front ranks of America’s colleges and universities. ….Achieving these fund raising goals will ensure that we will have the resources necessary to support and advance the initiatives outlined in the Strategic Plan, and enable us to make significant progress toward achieving our Vision for the future” (Toward 2016).


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