Fall 2017 Convocation Address by Father McShane

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What follows is the text of Father McShane’s fall 2017 convocation address, as prepared for delivery to the University community on Sept. 7.

As we gather to begin the University’s 176th year, I would like to welcome you back. I trust that you had a good break and that you were all able to get in a good vacation in the course of the summer. In the course of our time together this afternoon, I would like to speak with you about a number of issues, areas, and topics, including the usual areas on which I traditionally report at our fall convocations: admissions, development, finances, rankings and recognition, strategic planning, and facilities. In addition, however, I would like to spend some time speaking about a few important and some difficult issues, including our diversity efforts and the rather turbulent 2016–2017 academic year. Since I will be covering so many issues and topics this afternoon, at the outset I would ask you to be patient with me as I go through what will necessarily be a rather long presentation.

I hope that you will forgive me for breaking with custom by not following the order that I have always followed in the past, and that you will understand my reasons for doing so. This afternoon, I would like to begin my report on the state of the University by dwelling on the issues that caused us pain and division last year. (I will end my report by returning to these issues and addressing some of the ways in which I would like to work toward healing the rifts that the entire University is still wrestling with and suffering from.)

As you might imagine, I was deeply affected by the vote of no confidence, and what the faculty wished to tell me through the vote. As I said immediately after the results of the vote were shared with me, I was disappointed by the vote, but it didn’t diminish the high regard and affection that I have for the faculty. Neither did it lessen in any way the deep admiration or gratitude that I have every day for all they do to serve our students and to advance the mission of the University.

In the difficult weeks of late April and May, I wrestled with many questions, the chief of which was this: “What can I learn from what these friends and colleagues with whom I have been honored to serve for 20 years have ‎said to me in and through their action—that is, through their vote?” For starters, I learned that they were telling me that they did not think that I had not been as effective an advocate for them as they wanted and expected me to be. This realization, in turn, revealed to me that they were telling me that they did not think that I had listened as attentively to their concerns as they had hoped I would. Therefore, on the day before commencement, I wrote to the University community acknowledging my mistakes and offering my apologies for the pain that my failures had caused so many. I assure you that that apology came from the heart. I will return to these issues and offer some suggestions as to how we might be able to move forward at the end of the State of the University report that I will now share with you.

As is customary at the beginning of our convocation, I would like to introduce one new vice president, one new dean, and share with you at least one change in portfolio for one of our very talented and visionary academic administrators. Let me begin with the introduction of our newest vice president, the vice president for human resources: Kay Turner, Esq. Ms. Turner comes to us from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where she served as vice president for human resources. While at NJIT, she streamlined their hiring process and implemented a standardized search and selection process to recruit top-level talent. She earned her J.D. from St. John’s School of Law and is a graduate of the City University of New York. Ms. Turner will begin her service to the University on 18 September.

Now, I am honored to introduce the Rev. Faustino M. Cruz, S.M., the new dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. Father Cruz comes to Fordham from Seattle University, where he served as associate dean and professor in the School of Theology and Ministry. Father Cruz earned a Ph.D. in theology and education from Boston College; an M.A. in theology from the Graduate Theological Union; an M.Div. from the Franciscan School of Theology; and a B.S. from the University of the Philippines. His academic research focuses on the challenges of pastoral ministry within immigrant and minority communities, with a special emphasis on the Hispanic and Filipino communities in the United States.

As for the change in portfolio, I am delighted to share with you the news that Dr. Eva Badowska, the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, has been named the interim dean of the Arts and Sciences Faculty and associate vice president for academic affairs. An accomplished scholar and a talented administrator, during her tenure as the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Badowska has renewed GSAS in just about every aspect of its life. She has, moreover, been a driving force in our strategic planning efforts. Therefore, I have every confidence that she will do great things for all of our liberal arts schools and their faculties as she takes on this new role and this new set of responsibilities.

This year, we have also welcomed 49 scholars to the faculty of the University. A remarkably talented and diverse group, they will add immeasurably to the life of the University and to the growth of the students entrusted to their care. I would ask the new faculty members who are with us to rise to be acknowledged. Thank you for choosing to spend your professional lives at Fordham. (You will find more information on these new scholars in one of the traditional opening-of-school memos that I will be sending out this week.)

Admissions and Enrollment

On the undergraduate level, we had our 26th year of application growth—a 0.7 percent increase over last year’s number. We offered admission to 46.4 percent of those who applied. At the end of the cycle, we enrolled a total of 2,248 students. The quality indices for the class are very strong indeed: The average entering SAT score for the class is 1344, which is even with last year’s SAT score—but presented in terms dictated by the newly re-centered scale that the College Board introduced last year. The average high school GPA is 3.65. The number of National Merit Scholars and/or National Hispanic Scholars is 92 (48 National Hispanic Scholars and 44 National Merit Scholars), and we have seven Presidential Scholars.

As for demographic breakdown, the following states are our top 10 feeder states, with percentages:

New York (33%)
New Jersey (15%)
Connecticut (6.4%)
California (5.6%)
Massachusetts (5.1%)
Pennsylvania (4.4%)
Florida (2.2%)
Texas (2.1%)
Illinois (1.8%)
Maryland (1.6%)

We have 229 international students in the freshman class. The class is 42 percent male and 58 percent female. As for ethnicity, 31 percent are from traditionally underrepresented groups in American society.

Ninety percent of the students in the entering class received financial aid from the University, creating a discount rate of 45 percent for the class. (Our overall undergraduate tuition discount is 38 percent.) The federal government has reported that the average debt load for a Fordham graduate is approximately $25,000.

Finally, we enrolled 96 students in our HEOP program, a program that continues to be the most successful program in the state. (Our HEOP program had a 95.5 percent freshman-to-sophomore-year retention rate last year, a rate that exceeds the retention rate for our general freshman-to-sophomore cohort.)

Before I move on, I would like to offer a few additional observations on undergraduate admissions. In the course of the past two decades, we have seen rather dramatic changes in our undergraduate schools. Their ethnic and geographical distributions have become both richer and more diverse. In addition, their numbers have risen quite significantly. In fact, our undergraduate student population has more than doubled. (In 1992, our undergraduate schools enrolled approximately 3,500 students. This year, their student populations will be close to 9,000.) Finally, their quality profiles have risen quite markedly. Therefore, we have much to celebrate.

Even as I relate these figures, however, I would be less than honest if I did not tell you that our dependence on undergraduate enrollments is a source of some concern to me. Why? Because many of the markets on which we have traditionally relied for students have shrunk and continue to shrink—and to do so quite ominously. (The Northeast’s population is becoming older and older. School districts are contracting, and many of the private schools from which we have drawn students for so many years are either shrinking or closing.) Demographics, however, are not our only challenge. Far from it. The media, parents, students, and politicians have become more and more concerned about the cost of a college degree and are pushing for a radical reexamination of the collegiate enterprise. If that were not enough, several states have either pushed for or have introduced programs that promise free college education. As you know, New York state has taken the lead on this front, with telling results for or impact on private colleges and universities in the state. While other schools in the state saw significant declines in the number of incoming freshmen, this year Fordham escaped relatively unscathed. I underline the word relatively. We have had to increase our financial aid once again this year, and Vice President Peter Stace has told me that he is keeping a very close eye on trends across the state.

On the graduate level, several of our schools continue to deal with challenging national and regional trends. As a result, I was not at all surprised that their annual reports this year underscored two of the same demands and/or challenges that our undergraduate admissions team spoke about in their annual report, namely, the increasingly intense competition that they are facing in the marketplace, and the need to offer more and more financial aid to entice prospective students to enroll in our graduate and professional schools.

In light of the challenges that we are facing on both the undergraduate and graduate levels, we have taken the following actions: On the graduate level, as you know, last year we engaged the services of Lipman Hearne, a firm that specializes in university recruitment efforts, to help us develop more effective ways of advertising the value of an advanced Fordham degree, and of engaging prospective students more aggressively. The professional schools’ deans and admissions staffs are implementing the recommendations contained in the Lipman Hearne report this year. Therefore, we are optimistic that we will see significant improvements in professional school enrollments as we move forward. (I want to underscore the fact that the graduate and professional schools have done spectacular work in their strategic planning efforts in identifying and/or developing new programs, and in developing new methods of course delivery. In other words, their entrepreneurial vision has made the work of repositioning the schools easier.)

On the undergraduate level, I have formed two task forces whose work will (I hope) enable us to do even better: the task force on transfer admission and the task force on retention, both of which are composed of faculty members and administrators. With regard to the Task Force on Student Retention: As you know, our retention and graduation rates lag behind those of our peer and aspirant schools (and in some instances by substantial margins). Therefore, I have asked the Task Force on Student Retention to identify the reasons that lead students to choose to leave Fordham to pursue their studies elsewhere, and to develop an action plan that will enable us to address the issues behind their decisions so that we can serve them better and enable them to achieve a Fordham degree.

With regard to the Task Force on Transfer Admissions: We know from experience that many students who begin their college careers at other schools (whether at community colleges or other four-year schools) would like to transfer to Fordham to complete their collegiate studies. We also know from experience that in spite of their desire to transfer to Fordham, they ultimately choose not to do so. Therefore, I have asked the Task Force on Transfer Admissions to identify the reasons that lead students not to follow through on their expressed desire to transfer to Fordham to pursue their studies, and to develop an action plan that will enable us to address the issues behind their decisions so that we can help them achieve their dream of receiving a Fordham degree. Both of the task forces will complete their work by the end of the fall semester and present me with their recommendations and/or action plans. Once I receive them, I will share them with the undergraduate deans and the admissions staff for feedback, refinement, and implementation.

Strategic Planning

CUSP (Continuous University Strategic Planning) has made significant progress in the work it has undertaken on our behalf. During its first year in existence, the CUSP Committee identified six general priorities that would guide our planning efforts:

1. Innovative Jesuit Teaching and Learning
2. The Challenge and Inspiration of New York City
3. Strategically Focused Research
4. Global Engagement
5. The Creation of a Diverse and Inclusive Community
6. The Creation of a Strategic and Nimble Institution‎

During the second year of the planning process, CUSP completed a University SWOT analysis, and the divisions, schools, and departments of the University formed their local planning bodies. Once formed, these local planning groups dug in on the themes to see how they could and should guide their thinking about the future and the unique and division-specific ways in which they can help the University achieve the vision driving our planning. My reading of the annual reports that have come in this year revealed that the process has tapped into and unleashed the creativity of the University family. Nowhere has this rush of creativity been more apparent than in and among the graduate and professional schools. A few examples will serve to make my point here. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has (in the words of its dean) moved from “recovery to growth” by tapping into the expertise, interests, and skills of its faculty to develop a range of master’s-level programs in areas such as cybersecurity and health management that are fresh, interdisciplinary, creative, and market-responsive. As a result, its enrollments have soared.

The Graduate Schools of Education and Social Service have overhauled their curricula, developed new programs, and entered into an agreement with 2U, a firm specializing in online learning, to develop new methods of delivery for courses and whole degree programs to students all over the country. (The Graduate School of Education will this year become the home of the International Center for Jesuit Education. As a result, it will be able to partner with and deliver courses that will train teachers in Jesuit primary and secondary schools around the world.) The graduate division of the Gabelli School of Business has been hard at work identifying “differentiators” that will enable it to distinguish itself in the marketplace. In addition, it has added to its already robust suite of non-MBA degree programs that are especially attractive to international students, and is looking into ways to make its Executive and Part-Time MBA programs more attractive and effective.

The School of Law has completed its strategic plan and is already well along with and in its efforts to implement the recommendations contained therein. (In developing their plan, they have tapped into the expertise of both its faculty and its alumni base to ensure that their new programs are marked by emphasis on the school’s traditional strengths and emphases at the same time that they are responsive to emerging trends in both legal education and legal practice.) The School of Law has, moreover, made inclusion one of the major priorities of all that they are doing and will do in the coming years. Finally, the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education is continuing to hone its focus on service and outreach to the Hispanic community, and to diversify its online offerings.

Diversity Action Plan Implementation

Since it is such important part of the work of CUSP and since it is something that has such strong and important links to and implications for the University’s ability to live out its mission of service, I would like to focus now on the implementation of the Diversity Action Plan that grew out of the work of the Diversity Task Force and the President’s Advisory Council. You may recall that the Diversity Action Plan began with this statement: “Fordham seeks to create a learning environment in which each student, and everyone who shares our mission, receives that cura personalis (care for each person, and care for the whole person) that is one of the defining characteristics of Jesuit education, and indeed of every Jesuit apostolic work.”

In the course of the past year, we have made some progress in responding to many of the recommendations contained in the action plan. We are in the final stages of the search for the University’s first chief diversity officer. (I hope to be able to announce the name of the successful candidate for the position within the next few weeks—after the required background checks are completed.) In addition, since that post will have such importance in all that we do in the coming years, we have hired Ms. Turner to serve as our vice president for human resources, as I said. Ms. Turner is the University’s first African-American vice president, a long-overdue milestone. We have also named Mr. Juan Carlos Matos the associate vice president for student affairs to ensure that that division’s diversity efforts are coordinated with the work of the new chief diversity officer. Dr. Freedman and the deans have continued to implement the plan that they developed a few years ago to engage in what they have called “cluster hires” to make our faculty more richly diverse than it has been in the past.

On the curricular front, the deans and chairs of the departments will spend this year working on three recommendations contained in the Diversity Action Plan: the development of a required first-year course that will introduce our students to issues related to diversity; the reinvigoration of the American Pluralism course in the core curriculum; and the exploration of ways to include discussions of diversity in the Senior Values Seminars required in all of our undergraduate schools. The graduate and professional schools are engaging in similar efforts to ensure that race, justice, and equality are addressed in the curricula that they offer their students.

With regard to community engagement, our admissions staff is redoubling its efforts to attract a more diverse student body to Fordham. (Connected with their work, I am happy to be able to report that the Bloomberg Family Foundation has agreed to fund the Black and Hispanic College Fair that Fordham has been co-sponsoring with the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities for the past few years. The only college fair of its kind in New York, this event brings more than a thousand visitors to campus each fall. In the course of their time on campus, our visitors have a chance to interact with admissions officers from dozens of private colleges and universities in the state, and to attend seminars and presentations on how best to deal with the challenging experiences of applying to college and seeking and securing financial aid from the colleges to which they apply.) Responding to a request that we received from Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, the Office and Mission Integration and Planning has developed a new tutoring and mentoring program for Hayes students. In its first year in existence, the program has grown substantially. We intend to use what we have learned there to develop a template that we can use in other schools in the Bronx and the other boroughs in the coming years.

In light of what is going on nationally, our efforts to develop a more embracing, affirming, and loving campus is more important now than ever before. Therefore, I promise that we will make sure CUSP keeps us focused on the gift of diversity as we move forward.

Development

In the course of the past year, we raised $75.9 million in gifts and pledges. (It was the best fundraising year in our history, and was buoyed up by the $10.5 million bequest that we received from Steve Bepler to support STEM education.) In addition, I am happy to report that Faith & Hope | The Campaign for Financial Aid has raised $110 million toward its $175 million goal. On the basis of the success that we have had on the campaign so far, I am confident that we will reach and exceed our goal within the next two years. As I mentioned last year, I am aware of the fact that the work of fundraising is never done. In spite of the fact that we have raised $700 million in the past 14 years, the needs of the University are great—and seem to grow greater with each passing day. (My reading of the annual reports reminded me that we have significant needs in the following areas: financial aid for the students in all of our schools, facilities on both of our major campuses as well as the Westchester and London campuses, seed money for strategic initiatives, and research support.) Therefore, as soon as the present campaign is completed, please know that we will continue to invite our alumni, parents, and friends to support and invest in our noble mission and strategic initiatives.

Rankings, Ratings, and Recognition

U.S. News & World Report
Overall: 60 (2016 Ranking)
Gabelli School of Business: 77
Graduate School of Social Service: 22
Graduate School of Education: 48
Gabelli School of Business (Graduate): 73 overall, 63 for part-time MBA program
School of Law: 36 overall; 3 for part-time program

Student Achievements
Prestigious Fellowships and Scholarships: 118 Awards, 4 Alternates, 9 Finalists, 10 Semifinalists

Highlights included six Fulbright scholarships (with one alternate); one Schwarzman Scholarship; one Newman’s Own Fellowship; one Gates Cambridge finalist; two Boren Awards; three Critical Language Scholarships; two FBI Honors Internships; five Gates Millennium Scholars attending the University. Other highlights include four Clare Boothe Luce Fellowships, eight Clare Boothe Luce Scholarships, and three Clare Boothe Luce Summer Research Grants.

Acceptances into medical and law schools: Last year, applicants to law schools who had graduated in the spring from one of our three traditional undergraduate colleges had an acceptance rate of 93.3 percent. As for medical school applicants, we have a 76 percent admissions rate, up from 65 percent last year.

Faculty Achievements
In the past year, our faculty published 226 books and book chapters and 359 articles, with the following breakdown:

Arts and Sciences: 137 Books and Book Chapters, 199 Articles
Business: 14 Books and Book Chapters, 54 Articles
Education: 17 Books and Book Chapters, 19 Articles
Religion and Religious Education: 5 Books and Book Chapters, 7 Articles
Social Service: 12 Books and Book Chapters, 25 Articles
Law: 41 Books and Book Chapters, 55 Articles

In addition, our faculty have won grants in the amount of $16.9 million.

Finances and Endowment

As you all know, the past year was a challenging one for the University on the financial front. As a result of a $6.4 million shortfall in tuition revenue, we had to make adjustments to the 2017 budget in midcourse to bring the budget into balance. Thanks to the understanding, team spirit, and generosity of heart of the entire University, we were able to achieve the desired results and ended the fiscal year (on June 30, 2017) in the black, barely. In addition, because of the enrollment uncertainties that we faced as we went about the work of establishing the budget for the current fiscal year, we had to budget very conservatively. (We expect that we will face similar challenges in the out years for a number of reasons: uncertainties in the marketplaces in which we compete for students; increased pressure from federal and state governments, the media, and from the families that we serve, to contain costs and lower what we charge students; the introduction of the Excelsior Program in New York state; and the unsettled nature of both national politics and international affairs.) In addition, during the summer, Standard & Poor’s informed us that as a result of their periodic review of our budgets and accounts, they had decided to lower our outlook from stable to negative. In the report that accompanied their letter to us, they cited the following concerns: the low yield that we have in our undergraduate admissions operations, slender operating margins, and the decision that we made to finance the renovation of 140 West 62nd Street from operating funds rather than borrowing via bonds. Their decision was perplexing to us since they admitted both that we had a strong place in the market, and that they understood the wisdom of our using operating funds for the renovation of 140 West. At the end of their letter to us, they assured us that we had retained our A rating, but warned us that if we did not take action to address the issues that they brought to our attention, they might very well downgrade us the next time they did a full review of our operations. As you might imagine, this has caused me more than a little concern.

On a more positive note, we did have good news on other financial fronts: As I mentioned a few minutes ago, we are coming off a very strong fundraising year, with gifts and pledges reaching an all-time high of $75.9 million. In addition, after our endowment’s disappointing showing during the 2016 fiscal year (during which our investments fell 7.6 percent—around the same declines that schools like Amherst, Chicago, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Grinnell College, and the University of Richmond experienced), we have seen a strong bounce back as our investments have grown around 12.9 percent—to $727 million. Clearly, we have to boost this figure and do so substantially if we hope to achieve our dreams and keep faith with the many students who depend on us for financial aid.

In my reading of the annual reports, it was abundantly clear that we continue to have great needs. Indeed, almost every school, division, and office in the University asked for additional lines, more office space, and increased budgets for the important work that they do for their students, for the University, and for the advancement of wisdom and learning. It was also clear to me that we had to make our budget process more attentive and responsive to the expressed needs, dreams, and desires of the University community. We also had to do all we could and can do to make sure that strategic planning drives our budget and our budget process, and not the other way around. Therefore, in the course of the summer, I formed a Budget Task Force to make sure that our budget and our budgeting grow out of that attentiveness. I believe that the work of the task force can and should be the means by which we can devise a resource allocation process that will thoughtfully, imaginatively, and explicitly link budgeting to strategic planning. If it does its work effectively, the task force should be able to unleash the entrepreneurial capabilities of the entire University community and ensure the University’s long-term financial sustainability.

Therefore, I have asked the task force (which will be co-chaired by Provost Stephen Freedman and Senior Vice President Martha Hirst, and be composed of a number of vice presidents and deans and at least one faculty representative) to engage in a process that is transparent, collaborative, and fair; that will determine the roles that other University groups, such as PAC, CUSP, and the University Budget Planning Committee, should best play in both the input to and rollout of the task force’s findings and recommendations; that will explore ways in which high-priority University strategic initiatives can be appropriately funded; that will see if it would be possible for us to develop procedures by which units that grow their programs can share in the positive financial resources that their creativity creates; that will enable us to build the financial reserves that can be used to fund strategic initiatives and protect us in times of unexpected financial challenges. I have asked the task force to complete its work before the end of the fall semester so that we can begin to implement its recommendations in time to affect next year’s operating budget.

Facilities

After a period of fairly extensive construction, this past year was a pretty quiet one. We opened the renovated 140 West building and are continuing to work through the punch list of items that still require attention there. In addition, we have all but finished the renovation of the eighth floor of Lowenstein, and are on schedule to complete the renovation of the sixth floor for new academic uses, including computer science, cybersecurity, graduate social services, psychology, and theater design, by the beginning of the spring semester. We will also complete some work on the Lincoln Center plaza within the next few weeks. At Rose Hill, we have renovated offices in Cunniffe House for the new chief diversity officer and the new staff chaplain. In addition, we have renovated the Modern Languages and Literatures offices in Faber Hall, and have converted the space in McGinley formerly used to house the bookstore to a dining center, thus boosting our dining hall capacity to 834. We are also nearing the completion of the project in Dealy for the new Starbucks retail operation, one that will generate income for the University and its educational mission. In addition, on the sustainability front, we are still engaged in a relamping project that will put LED bulbs in all of our light fixtures. This will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions quite substantially. Finally, I am happy to report that we have begun the renovations to the property that will serve as the base of our London operations once Heythrop College closes in the course of the next year.

Conclusion

As I promised when I began my remarks, I would like now to return to the issues that caused us pain last year, and that continue to do so as we begin the new academic year. The accomplishments of the past year (and the accomplishments of our whole history) remind us of the communal nature of our enterprise. If they remind us of the shared nature of the University, they also remind us that they are made possible not by a faceless collectivity, but by a vibrant and diverse community of women and men who choose to devote their lives, their passions, their talents, their wisdom, and even their occasional quirkiness to the work on which the future of the world depends. And if this is true, they also remind us that the heart of the University community and the hearts of each and all of the members of that community must be nurtured with great care and loving attentiveness.

As these realizations dawned on me, I came to understand both the failures of last year and the way forward better and better. Let me unpack that a little if I might.

I came to understand that at the heart of all that went wrong last year was a forgetfulness of the need for better, honest, and very nearly constant communication, but communication that is mutually respectful and responsive and that seeks to begin with what I would refer to as intentional attentiveness. If I am right in my assessment (and I think that I am on the basis of my reading of the many emails and memos that flowed across the campus for the past year), I believe that we all have to communicate more effectively with one another. Lest you think that I am taking the easy way out by focusing on communication, I assure that I am not. You should also not get the impression that I am pointing a finger at others. I am not. In focusing on the need for better communication on campus, I will begin with myself. Therefore, I begin with the admissions that I could have been a better and more responsive listener, and that I should have communicated with the University community more regularly as we went through the last difficult months of the year. Therefore, I pledge to you this day that I will do all I can to do better in honoring our shared commitment to cura personalis for every member of the Fordham community.

Therefore, I will be holding listening sessions on both campuses so that I can get a better sense of the issues and concerns that are on the minds and in the hearts of the members of the University community. Moreover, I will continue to meet with the president of the Faculty Senate and the full Senate on a monthly basis.

If the past year has taught us (and me) anything, it is that the budget is a source of deep concern to everyone in the University. The past year has also taught us that people of immense goodwill approach and understand the budget very differently. Therefore, in order to lessen the confusion that surrounds the budget, we are doing the following : a) Senior Vice President Martha Hirst will be holding budget fora/town halls on both campuses during both the fall and spring semesters; b) as I mentioned, I have formed a Budget Task Force, co-chaired by Stephen Freedman and Martha Hirst, to ensure that our budget process is driven by planning, and not the other way around (and Stephen and Martha have told me that they will be reaching out to the University Budget Planning Committee right away, and that they will share information concerning the work of the task force on a regular basis); and c) CUSP will continue to work closely with the task force to ensure that the input of our planners is heard and listened to.

In addition to Martha Hirst’s budget fora, other members of the cabinet will more frequently share updates regarding their areas of responsibility, and of course you have already begun receiving communications on the new health insurance program—communications that will continue throughout the year.

I hope that you will not mind if I conclude on a pastoral note. As you know, the Trump administration has announced that it will not honor the pledge that the government made to protect DACA students. Therefore, I would ask you to do all you can to protect them. If any member of the student body approaches you with fears and concerns about their status, please refer them to the counseling center or to Campus Ministry. Both of those offices will be able to offer them the kind of advice they and their families will need to deal with the many challenges they will be facing in the coming weeks, months, and years. As for the University, we will continue to work with the educational associations in Washington, with the Bishops’ Conference, and with Congress to do all we can to protect our students.

And so, my friends, I conclude my very long report on the State of the University as we begin Fordham’s 176th year. The state of our beloved University is divided. Intellectually, we are strong and getting stronger, but our hearts are still shaken. Therefore, I would invite all of you to join me in the great and important work of restoring the University’s spirit.

God bless Fordham, and God bless all and each of you.

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