Joseph M. McShane, S.J., has been unanimously elected president emeritus of Fordham by the University’s Board of Trustees.
The honor was conferred “in recognition and appreciation of his outstanding 19 years as Fordham’s president,” according to the board’s resolution, adopted during its April meeting.
“I have said before that Father McShane is Fordham’s pastor in chief and its greatest ambassador; he is also the person most responsible for the University’s rise from a well-respected regional school to a national and international institution,” said Robert D. Daleo, GABELLI ’72, Fordham’s board chair. “The Board of Trustees is honored to confer upon Father McShane the title of president emeritus for his nearly two decades of leadership at the University and his devoted service to the Fordham family.”
Father McShane stepped down as president of Fordham on June 30, completing a quarter century of service to the University. From 1992 to 1998, he was an influential dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill. He left in 1998 to become president of the University of Scranton and served there until 2003, when he returned to become the 32nd president of Fordham.
He was recognized by the board as a “transformative president” who “touched the lives of the members of the Fordham community in a special way with his pastoral care for all in many different and sometimes unconventional ways”—from hosting 19 COVID-safe graduation ceremonies in 2021 to passing out water bottles to families on Opening Day each year.
“I have witnessed Father McShane’s inspired leadership first hand since I joined the board in 2011; whether it’s fundraising, diversity, enrollment, or managing crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been masterful in bringing out the best in our students, faculty, alumni, and staff,” said Armando Nuñez, Jr., GABELLI ’82, chair-elect of the Fordham Board of Trustees. “His amazing legacy leaves us a leading Jesuit University of national and international stature—an institution poised to thrive and prosper for decades to come.”
Father McShane’s tenure marks “one of the most remarkable periods of sustained growth in Fordham’s history,” the board said. Under his leadership, the University raised more than $1 billion in donations, invested $1 billion in new construction and infrastructure improvements, and grew its endowment to more than $1 billion.
In addition to those accomplishments, the board noted that Father McShane helped Fordham rise in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, establish Fordham London and the Westchester campus, recruit the largest and most diverse undergraduate class in its history in 2021, increase financial aid for students, and develop the University’s action plan for Confronting Racism and Educating for Justice. The board also highlighted student achievements since Father McShane became president: More than 2,100 prestigious fellowships and scholarships were awarded to Fordham students, including 165 Fulbrights.
“Father McShane has thoroughly earned the designation as president emeritus, given the scope and enormous number of contributions he made to moving Fordham forward over the last 19 years,” said Mary Anne Sullivan, TMC ’73, vice chair of the University Board of Trustees. “In the last two decades he has defined what it means to be a modern, Jesuit university.”
Outside of Fordham, Father McShane served on the boards of many colleges, universities, and higher education organizations–including the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, which he chaired for two terms. He also served on New York City mayoral task forces and the New York State Forward Advisory Board, the resolution stated.
Beyond his many accomplishments, the board said Father McShane will be missed for his unmatched commitment to the Jesuit University of New York.
“The entire Fordham community will miss his unbridled energy, his bold and ambitious vision for the future of the University, his tireless advocacy for Jesuit education, his intelligence and knowledge of so many things—and of course, his quick wit,” the resolution reads.
Thomas J. Regan, S.J., GSAS ’82, the superior of the Jesuit community at Fordham and a member of the Board of Trustees, said that “Father McShane’s remarkable two-decade tenure as Fordham’s president transformed the University.”
“It is fitting that he be named president emeritus,” he said, “as his positive impact on Fordham will be felt for many generations to come.”