The holiday season kicked into high gear at Fordham on Dec. 3, as nearly a thousand members of the University community gathered at Lincoln Center for the annualPresident’s Club Christmas reception.
The President’s Club recognizes annual supporters at various levels whose outstanding generosity and loyalty reflect a strong commitment to Fordham.
Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham, is $460 million toward its $500 million goal, with 96 percent of the total raised in the last fiscal year coming from members of the President’s Club.
The event, which was held in the promenade of the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, was an occasion for parents, alumni, faculty, and administrators to reconnect and celebrate the progress of the University’s capital campaign.
For Mike and Kelly Melanophy, PAR ’13, the Christmas reception held a bittersweet note. It would be their last as parents of a Fordham student.
The Melanophy’s son Brendan, a senior at the Gabelli School of Business, has enjoyed a successful career in both the classroom and on the field, as a defensive back for the Fordham Rams football team.
“The coaches and staff have become like our family,” Mike said.
Mike and Kelly said that while Brendan’s choice of Fordham had much to do with football, the family has loved every aspect of their Fordham experience.
“Fordham was the perfect balance for Brendan of academic reputation and challenge, athletics, and religion. It’s been very fulfilling,” Mike said.
The Melanophys said they have developed close friendships with the parents of many of Brendan’s friends. Kelly encouraged parents to get involved with the University in a way that resonates with their student.
“Even if your child is not involved in a sport, encourage them to find something they love, a club or group, and support that interest,” Kelly said.
In addition to connecting with friends in the faculty and staff, Mike said he enjoyed the opportunity to hear from Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane, S.J., at the Christmas reception.
“Father McShane is an incredible president—so engaging. We have enjoyed getting to know him over the years,” he said.
Fr. McShane thanked attendees for their generosity and highlighted the progress Fordham has been able to make thanks to donor support, including the transformation of Hughes Hall at the Rose Hill campus and the construction of the new Law School building at the Lincoln Center campus.
He also thanked the benefactors in attendance for the example they set for Fordham students.
“They selflessly give themselves in service to others. They do it day in and day out. The do it in India. They do it in Central America, they do it in Latin America, South Africa, and right now for the past month, they’ve been doing it in the most devastated parts of the metropolitan New York area, going out on midnight runs, on daily work details to Breezy Point, Belle Harbor, the South Shore of Long Island, to Staten Island,” Fr. McShane said.
“They do this because they have learned generosity of heart from you.”
That generosity of heart runs deep and long for Fordham parents. Judy Zoller, PAR ’87, attended the reception with two members of the board of the foundation she established in memory of her late son, Joseph, GSB ’87. The Joseph C. Zoller Memorial Fund provides scholarships to students in the Graduate School of Education.
Though it has been more than 20 years since they had students at Fordham, Zoller and fellow board member Elizabeth Lyons, whose daughter Mary Beth graduated from Fordham in 1986, said she and her fellow fundraisers see the President’s Club reception as the kickoff to the Christmas season.
“Tonight’s an opportunity to see just how many people support Fordham,” Lyons said. “Every year, I am so inspired.”
by Patrick Verel and Jennifer Spencer