While everybody is called to serve, some heed the calling more deeply than others.
On Dec. 3, longtime Fordham supporters Kim Bepler and Stephen Bepler, FCRH ’64, assumed the mantle of those who, literally, serve the University. Donning a chef’s apron, Kim Bepler welcomed guests to the annual Christmas dinner for Fordham’s Board of Trustees, held this year in the newly named Bepler Commons, which she and her husband envision as a place to feed both “body and soul.”
Bepler Commons will serve as a special events space for the Rose Hill community.
Longstanding benefactors of the University, the Beplers have supported the expansion of science education, funded student scholarships, and endowed two faculty chairs—the John D. Boyd, S.J., Chair in Poetic Imagination and the Karl Rahner, S.J., Memorial Chair in Theology. In 2007 they received the Fordham Founder’s Award.
On Wednesday the Beplers stood side-by-side with Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, as the new commons, formerly the Faber Hall Jesuits’ dining room, was dedicated, blessed, and formally opened via a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Fordham’s president said he personally asked the Beplers to accept the tribute in recognition of all they’ve done to uphold the University’s defining traditions.
“The thought of having this room named in their honor is appropriate because the commons is a place where people come together, where they share ideas, where they debate over the table,” said Father McShane. “In this dining hall students, faculty, and staff of Fordham will gather to debate the finer, and less fine, points of life, answer nagging questions, reflect, come to a conversion, and take on the world. I can think of no better people for this room to be named for than Kim and Steve.”
Stephen Bepler, the retired senior vice president at Capital Research Global Investors, noted that he and Faber Hall “arrived on campus” at the same time—September 1960. At that time, he said, the glass-and-brick-style edifice was a source of controversy.
“It was the most modern building on campus,” he said. “It looked like a New York City housing development, and there was a rumor that every cubicle had a receptacle for an air conditioner so they could luxuriate the steamy summers. It was dubbed ‘The McGinley Hilton.’”
But Bepler said that it goes to prove that “if you live long enough, very strange things can happen. This once-new elegant place—initially reviled as over the top and way too much—now belongs to everyone.”
Kim Bepler shared her husband’s enthusiasm for the new space and announced the distribution of gift aprons to all in attendance. “If you want to serve, this is the best place to do it,” she said.
— Janet Sassi