The mothers and fathers who serve on the Parents’ Leadership Council say being involved in advancing Fordham’s future is one way they can invest in the long-term value of their students’ education.
“We need good leaders in the world, and we need good places to help shape them,” said Michael Maddigan, PAR ’16.
The Parents’ Leadership Council is a network of parents who are committed to working with Fordham administrators to promote the well-being and advancement of the University.
Through their financial gifts and service at meetings and events throughout the year, parents on the council serve in the areas of development, fundraising, communication with other Fordham families, career services, and student enrichment.
The council recently met during Family Weekend 2013, on October 4, and covered several topics, including a review of Fordham’s new Dining Services contract.
The meeting also provided members a chance to visit Fordham’s campus. For new council member Jack Stapleton, PAR ’17, who grew up in the Bronx, that trip brought back special memories.
Stapleton, who lives in St. Louis, Mo., said he recalls first visiting Fordham’s campus with his late father Bob, who was a long-time booster of the Fordham men’s basketball team. When Jack’s youngest daughter Caroline started at Fordham College at Rose Hill this fall, it held special meaning for the family.
“My dad, who first introduced me to Fordham, got really sick before our last daughter was born. But he held on long enough to hold Caroline, our baby, who’s now a freshman at Fordham. It’s kind of kismet how all this comes around,” Stapleton said.
“Fordham is just such an important part of the fabric of the Stapleton family. My wife and I are really proud to serve on the Parents’ Leadership Council.”
Raising Fordham’s profile outside the Northeastern corner of the United States is one of the council’s key initiatives.
Michael and Debbie Maddigan, who are based in Southern California, both attended Jesuit universities.
They said they hope to extend the same warm Fordham welcome their son Andrew, a sophomore at Fordham College at Rose Hill, has received to families in their part of the country.
“One of the main purposes of the group is to build the Fordham network by enabling Fordham parents and families to connect,” Michael Maddigan said. “I see that in what people are doing on the East Coast, and I would like to see the council continue to help the University promote itself more widely,” he said.
Stapleton said he and his wife Betty look forward to hosting Summer Send-Offs to help admitted students from St. Louis build a Fordham community before they head to New York City. “I’m really interested in helping Fordham here in the Midwest,” he said. “I would love to host a meaningful send-off here, with double digit numbers of freshmen going to Fordham.”
We’ve got a lot to be proud of. Fordham is a fantastic place for all the right reasons, and I can’t wait to help evangelize.”
In addition to working on long-term strategic goals like raising the University’s national profile, the council also provides insight and advice on tangible issues that affect students’ day-to-day lives. Debbie Maddigan said she has seen great value in that level of engagement in her children’s education, whether they are 2 or 22.
“It is so important to stay involved so you really do know what’s going on, can respond, and can help do whatever needs to happen to make things better. You can always help make things better,” she said.
Bill and Lisa Lawler, PAR ’14, became involved with the council when their daughter Caroline started at Fordham four years ago. Bill said that the ability to have a direct impact on Fordham’s future was a valuable way for him to be involved in Fordham even though living in Washington, D.C., meant his family couldn’t be on campus as often as they might like to be.
“I’ve found the dialogue at council meetings to feel very immediate and intimate, and have seen the University respond quickly to issues we have raised. It’s been heartening to see the growth over time of the opportunities available to students, particularly in the area of career services,” he said.
Michael Maddigan said he has appreciated how Fordham quickly makes parents feel a part of the community and values the insight they bring from their own professional experiences.
“There’s a genuine interest in what parents think, not just because they’re the parents of students who happen to be going to Fordham, but because they’re a resource into the wider community,” Maddigan said.
While the parents on the council all say they find the work they do for Fordham rewarding, the greatest reminders of the value of their investment tend to lie close to home.
“As parents, you want to make sure that your kids are with good people, first and foremost, and we’ve been so pleased with the terrific friends our daughter has made,” Lawler said.
“Each year we have a tailgate at a Fordham game. The first year, there were six people. This year, there were 125. Not just Caroline’s friends, but their parents, who have become our friends.”
by Jennifer Spencer