With nearly 80 years of full-time service to the University between them, Tom and Rosemary DeJulio will lighten their workload this coming school year.
In August, Rosemary quietly retired from her role as assistant to the president. Tom will step down from his role as general counsel, though he will keep an office at Cunniffe House and will serve in the capacity as “of counsel” to the University.
Tom was appointed as the University’s first general counsel in 1988, after having served as Fordham’s first budget director starting in 1979. Earlier, he served in the Office of Research Services while taking evening classes at the law school until he graduated in 1977. He is a double Ram, having attended Fordham College at Rose Hill during one of the most tumultuous periods on campus—the late 1960s and early 1970s—and graduating summa cum laude in cursu honorum in 1973.
Rosemary received her undergraduate degree from City University in 1972 in foreign language and literature. She met Tom a few months later and they married in the University Church in 1975.
In 1980, she began working at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus in the Medieval Studies department while also taking care of her ailing parents. After their passing, she returned to the classroom and received a master’s degree in early modern European history.
She soon left “the hill” to work for 16 years as a director and assistant dean at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. She enrolled in the Graduate School of Education’s Catholic leadership program and earned her doctorate in 2000.
In 2005, she was promoted to associate dean for Marymount College, where she remained for two years before spending nine years as an assistant to Joseph M. McShane, SJ, president of Fordham.
The DeJulios have been married for 40 years. They finish each other’s sentences. As they discussed their careers and legacy, Tom reminded Rosemary to describe her time mentoring students in Alpha Sigma Nu.
“I’m so proud of those young men and women,” she said. “To see Fordham win the 2015 national chapter award before I retired was particularly rewarding.”
She then reminded Tom not to forget to mention Fordham Circle K, the college branch of the international service organization Kiwanis that he introduced to the University decades ago.
Tom started his Kiwanis membership in the Key Club at Mount Vernon high school, and introduced Circle K to Fordham in 1970 to replicate his high school service experience. At that time, administration officials were more than happy to provide space to a new community service club that wasn’t demonstrating against the University.
The couple formed Fordham Kiwanis in 1989.
But while they have advised and mentored dozens of students in clubs and organizations, both agreed that it was the spiritual interactions at Fordham that changed their own lives, and which, they hope, will continue change the lives of others—both on campus and off.
“Even in the legal work that I do, the atmosphere is so different because of Fordham’s distinctive mission,” said Tom. “There have been many happy occasions. But there have also been tragic situations that I’ve had to deal with as General Counsel. There’s no separating the spiritual from our professional work here.”
After a secular experience at City University, Rosemary was introduced to an entirely new environment at Fordham. She delved into women’s roles in Ignatian spirituality and did her doctoral dissertation about the Jesuit influence on women’s orders and pedagogy in the 16th century.
“I knew little about St. Ignatius Loyola and so it started out as a way to learn more about him,” she said. “But as I went through the Spiritual Exercises, it really changed who I was and the way I proceeded as a female administrator.”
Tom concurred, adding that the spiritual and Jesuit perspective made him take stock of his career as a lawyer in a way that might differ from his peers.
“Particularly as I move toward retirement, I ask myself, ‘Did I matter? Did I make a difference in the lives of others? Did I do what God wanted me to do?’”