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Eight Hundred Years of Service? That’s No Small Feat


“Today we tip our hats, our birettas and our mortar boards to the men and women who, for 40 and 20 years, have kept faith with the ideals that have informed, fired and enriched Fordham for 170 years.”

Marlene Cooper, Ph.D., associate professor in the Graduate School of Social Service, was one of 33 employees recognized for long service. Behind, right, is Sursum Corda recipient Steven Madigan.
Photos by Bruce Gilbert

With those words, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, honored 33 of the University’s most-loyal employees on March 6 at the 2011 University Convocation at the Lincoln Center campus.

Fifteen administrators received the Archbishop Hughes medal for completing 20 or 40 years of service to Fordham. TheBene Merenti medal went to 16 faculty members, recognizing 20 or 40 years of service in the classroom.

Collectively, the employees have given nearly 800 years of service to Fordham, said Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, vice president for University mission and ministry. “These good souls have lived out and continue to live out the words of Saint Ignatius,” he said. “To them, we say thanks.”

A special award, the Sursum Corda, went to Georgina Calia Arendacs, Ph.D., and Steven Madigan.

Arendacs, a 36-year employee, earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in sociology, writing her dissertation on Title IX and applying that expertise to her position as University director of equity and equal opportunity.

“Fordham has meant home. It has meant development. It has meant everything to me, really,” said Arendacs, who for more than 25 years has volunteered with the Fordham chapter of Kiwanis International and the Fordham University Association.

Madigan, a University electrician, was recognized for his diligent work on interior and exterior lighting and on Fordham’s emergency response team; in March 2010 he worked 36 hours straight to keep buildings lit and on line.

The Sursum Corda award was begun in 2005 by Father McShane to recognize outstanding contributions to the life and mission of the University.

Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J, is congratulated by Father McShane.

All honorees received medals, handshakes and plenty of applause from their peers. Some, likeBene Merenti recipient Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J, Distinguished Professor of Theology, even got a hug from Father McShane.

Sister Johnson said that Fordham has proved a wonderful place to grow as a professor and theologian for 20 years.

“Fordham has a wonderful esprit de corps,” said the nationally recognized systematic theologian. “I have cherished the academic freedom—that I can think about feminist theology with no fear of retribution. The support I’ve received for the direction of my own research has been priceless.”

Biswa Bhowmick, Ph.D., an Archbishop Hughes awardee, retraced his growth from an economics student in 1988, to a Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) tutor, to an adjunct professor of statistics in the Graduate School of Business Administration, to the assistant dean/associate director of HEOP.

“All these different kinds of involvement came about naturally because of the kind of place that Fordham is,” said Bhowmick, who sported a Fordham tie for the event. “I’m a company man!”

Forty-year Archbishop Hughes medal recipient Estelle Fabian, assistant dean of the master of law program, was 16 years old when she began working at the then-law school at 302 Broadway in Manhattan. In her tenure, she said, she has met LLM students from nearly 100 countries.

“I’d do it all again,” she said. “I’ve been enriched by the international students in ways I could never have imagined. You might say that thanks to Fordham Law I have a home in every port.”

After the event, the recipients were invited to a celebration that Father McShane playfully referred to as a carnival feast, “Dimanche Gras.”

“On this Fat Sunday we shine the spotlight on the heroes in our midst,” he said. “Eat with abandon; hug with affection.”
The event was sponsored by the Office of the President.

(For a complete list of awardees, visit Fordham’s News Blog.)


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