“[A]fter a great deal of prayer, reflection, and consultation, I have decided that this will be my last year as President of our beloved University,” Father McShane wrote yesterday in a message to the Fordham family.
“It has been a blessing to work with so many talented and devoted faculty and staff, and with more than a hundred thousand gifted and community-minded students,” he added. “Likewise, I have had the great fortune of working with and on behalf of our many generous and involved alumni and donors, and with the members of our Board of Trustees, especially the Board Chairs with whom I have worked: Paul Guenther, John Tognino and Bob Daleo. Together they have been the engines of Fordham’s success, over which it has been my great joy to preside.”
Father McShane succeeded Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., on July 1, 2003, to become the 32nd president of Fordham. By next June, he will have served 19 years in the position, matching his predecessor’s record as the University’s longest-serving president.
Under Father McShane, Fordham completed a decades-long transformation from well-regarded regional institution to prestigious national university—growing larger, academically and fiscally stronger, and more diverse than ever.
Since 2003, Father McShane has raised $1 billion for the University, overseen the quadrupling of its endowment to more than $1 billion, and invested $1 billion in new construction and infrastructure improvements.
His tenure has also been marked by record-breaking advances in enrollment; campus expansions in New York and London; innovative new academic programs and partnerships; increased support for student-faculty collaboration and research; a renewed commitment to community engagement; and a burgeoning global alumni network—all of which have helped lift Fordham to new levels of national and international distinction and influence.
“The Board of Trustees and the Fordham community have watched with admiration Father McShane’s unbridled energy, pastoral care, long devotion, and deep wisdom,” Robert D. Daleo, GABELLI ’72, chair of the Fordham University Board of Trustees, wrote today in a letter to the Fordham community. “We are deeply grateful for all he has done for the University and its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents.”
Daleo said the University will work with global executive search firm WittKieffer and establish a search committee composed of trustees, faculty, staff, and students to identify the next president of Fordham. WittKieffer will hold a series of virtual town halls this fall to solicit input from the Fordham community, he said. And he expects the board to announce the new president next spring. (More information about the transition is posted at fordham.edu/presidentialsearch.)
In the meantime, the University will have the opportunity to “celebrate Father McShane and his many accomplishments throughout the year,” Daleo wrote.
“His leadership has set the stage for the next president to continue Fordham’s growth and prominence.”
A Leader of Character
Throughout his tenure as president, Father McShane has described a Fordham education as “ever ancient, ever new,” borrowing a phrase from St. Augustine.
“We are ever searching for greater opportunities for service that the signs of the times reveal to us and demand of us,” he said during his inaugural address in the Rose Hill Gymnasium on October 24, 2003. And yet a Fordham education is timeless, he said, and fundamentally about character development—supporting, challenging, and empowering students to become global citizens whose lives are marked by “competence, conscience, compassion, and commitment to the cause of the human family.”
When historians of Fordham look back on the McShane era, they will undoubtedly note a host of key indicators of growth and success at the University (see the list below), but just as impressive, trustees and others in higher education say, is Father McShane’s influence as a leader of character—someone who is quick-witted, morally focused, and personally humble but bold and full of ambition for Fordham.
“Father McShane has been an incredible leader, and Fordham has become a new and better institution under his leadership,” said Fordham Trustee Valerie Rainford, FCRH ’86. “He leaves a legacy of excellence, integrity, and perseverance not just with the Fordham family but with the broader community, all guided by his faith and an unwavering commitment to helping his fellow man and woman achieve their God-given gifts. He is a giant in academia who leaves behind big shoes to fill.”
In his message to the Fordham family, Father McShane deflected any praise for what the University has achieved.
“I have utterly no illusions about how all of this was accomplished and what my role has been. I believe (actually I know) that all that has been accomplished at Fordham in the course of the past eighteen years is not the result of my work,” he wrote. “Rather, it has been the result of uncommon teamwork, a shared dream and a deep devotion to the values that Fordham has always stood for and from which it has derived its strength.”
Beyond Fordham, Father McShane is widely regarded as an eloquent, tireless advocate for Jesuit education and for improving college access overall. He has served on the boards of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), several Jesuit institutions, and the American Council on Education.
“For more than his 25 years at Fordham, Father McShane has been an important voice for Catholic higher education, for Jesuit universities, and, indeed, for the importance of public and private support for education of all citizens, especially the marginalized and those who have been deprived of this critical opportunity,” said AJCU President Michael J. Garanzini, S.J. “His energy and enthusiasm have inspired many of us to advocate for the promotion of access and inclusion in private and public education alike.”
By the Numbers: A Legacy of Transformation
Here are 10 key indicators of growth and success at Fordham under Father McShane’s leadership.
- Enrollment and Diversity: Applications for undergraduate admission have more than tripled, from 12,801 in 2003 to 46,171 this year. And the percentage of undergraduate students from underrepresented groups has increased from 23% in 2003 to 33% this year. The undergraduate Class of 2025, drawn from 45 U.S. states and 51 countries, is the most diverse in Fordham’s history, with 44.5% domestic students of color and 6.5% international students.
- Social Mobility: The Chronicle of Higher Education placed Fordham at No. 15 on its list of “Colleges with the Highest Student-Mobility Rates,” a ranking that measures whether recent graduates’ income surpasses that of their parents. First-generation college students make up 23% of the undergraduate Class of 2025.
- Fundraising: Fordham has raised more than $1 billion since 2003. That’s more than the University had raised in its entire 162-year history prior to Father McShane’s tenure as president.
- Endowment: The University’s endowment has more than quadrupled, from $241.2 million in 2003 to more than $1 billion today.
- Scholarships and Financial Aid: With support from donors, the University created more than 400 new scholarship funds for students, including 197 as part of Faith & Hope | The Campaign for Financial Aid, which raised more than $175 million for students between 2014 and 2019.
- Access and Affordability: The University increased spending on financial aid from $48 million in 2003 to more than $300 million this year. Today, 90% of first-year undergraduates receive some form of financial aid from Fordham.
- Endowed Chairs and External Grants: To help attract and retain more of the world’s leading scholars and educators, Fordham dramatically increased its number of endowed faculty chairs—from 23 to 71. The University also bolstered its Office of Research, increasing funding from external sources by 85%, from $13 million in 2003 to $24 million in 2021.
- Academic Achievement: Fordham students have earned 2,121 prestigious fellowships and scholarships, including 158 Fulbright awards, since 2003, placing the University among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars.
- Academic and Residential Facilities: Since 2003, Fordham has invested more than $1 billion in major capital projects, including a current $205 million renovation and expansion of the campus center at Rose Hill.
- National Rankings: Fordham has leaped 18 places in U.S. News & World Report’s national college rankings, from No. 84 in 2003 to No. 66. Several of Fordham’s graduate and professional schools also advanced in the rankings: Fordham Law is No. 27; the Graduate School of Social Service is No. 25; the Graduate School of Education is No. 39; and the graduate division of the Gabelli School of Business is No. 58, with three program areas—finance (15), international business (15), and marketing (14)—among the top 20 in the nation.
A ‘Mystical Regard’ for Fordham
In late 2002, when Father McShane was appointed to lead Fordham, he was in his fifth year as president of the University of Scranton, a post he held until June 2003. But he was no stranger to the Fordham community.
A New York City native, he taught theology and served as the dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill from 1992 to 1998. Prior to that, he was a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. And though he completed his studies elsewhere—earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Boston College, M.Div. and S.T.M. degrees from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in the history of Christianity from the University of Chicago—Fordham was in his DNA.
As a boy, he attended basketball games and alumni reunions at Rose Hill with his father, Owen P. McShane, a graduate of Fordham College and Fordham Law School who instilled in his four sons a “mystical regard” for Fordham.
“It was my first experience of a college campus, and it was a place that was larger than life,” Father McShane said during a September 2003 media roundtable with alumni and student journalists. “But as time went on, it occurred to me that Fordham was a mystical place for my father because he was the first person in his family to go to college. It was the institution that made his life, changed his life.”
That deep sense of Fordham as a place of personal and communal transformation, particularly for first-generation college students, has been a keynote of Father McShane’s administration.
In his message to the Fordham family announcing his decision to step down as president, he noted that in addition to his father, each of his three brothers earned a degree from Fordham.
“Fordham breathed life into their dreams and formed their lives in powerful ways,” he wrote. “Through their stories and the example of their lives, I came to understand the transformative power of the Jesuit education they received here.”
‘Ever Upward’: An Ambitious Agenda for Fordham
Soon after his inauguration, Father McShane led the University community through a yearlong strategic planning process. The goal was to draw on Fordham’s historic strengths, recent accomplishments, and untapped potential—particularly at the Lincoln Center campus—to lift the University to a position of greater prominence.
In March 2009, he announced that through Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham, the University would seek to raise $500 million to renew itself physically, spiritually, and academically.
By 2014, more than 60,000 alumni and friends had contributed $540 million, propelling the University well beyond its fundraising goal. Together they helped the University create more than 220 scholarships, build residence halls for a total of 800-plus students at Rose Hill and Lincoln Center, and bolster the faculty with the creation of nearly 50 endowed chairs in business, law, Catholic theology, Judaic studies, STEM, and other fields.
A Historic Investment in Business Education
The single largest contribution during the campaign came in 2010 from the Gabelli Foundation, a gift that has strengthened Fordham’s ability to provide a purpose-driven business education in the financial capital of the world.
Mario J. Gabelli, a 1965 Fordham graduate, and his wife, Regina Pitaro, a 1976 graduate of Fordham College at Rose Hill, announced their historic $25 million gift to Fordham on September 25, 2010, before the start of the annual Homecoming football game. At the time, it was the largest single gift in Fordham’s history—superseded 10 years later, in December 2020, when Gabelli and Pitaro made a $35 million gift to the University.
Gabelli and Pitaro’s support has allowed the business school to strengthen and expand its faculty, create a Ph.D. program, launch a bachelor’s degree program in global business at the Lincoln Center campus, and fund scholarships and research, among other initiatives. In gratitude, the University renamed its undergraduate business college the Gabelli School of Business—and in 2015, Fordham unified its undergraduate, graduate, and executive business programs under the Gabelli name.
Alumni support also helped the University complete a two-year renovation of Hughes Hall, which reopened in 2012 as the permanent Rose Hill home of the Gabelli School.
Lincoln Center Rising
One of the most visible, dramatic legacies of Father McShane’s tenure as president is the transformation of the Lincoln Center campus.
When the campus was built during the 1960s, it was designed to accommodate 3,500 students. By the early 21st century, it was bursting at the seams, with 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Fordham Law, long regarded as one of the best law schools in the country, was serving 1,500 students in a building designed for 650.
Under Father McShane’s leadership, the University developed and eventually earned New York City approval to enact a master plan for expanding the campus—the first stage of which was the construction of a new law school and undergraduate residence hall.
The new Fordham Law School opened in fall 2014. Designed by world-renowned architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the 22-story building has not only reshaped the campus but also added a touch of elegance to the Manhattan skyline. The law school occupies the first nine floors, and McKeon Hall, a residence for more than 400 undergraduates, rises above it.
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was among the dignitaries at the dedication ceremony for the new building. She spoke warmly of Father McShane’s leadership. “You have given a special spirit to this University, and I’m so pleased to be here,” she said. “Fordham never ceases to amaze me.”
Two years later, Fordham completed a gut renovation of 140 West 62nd Street, former home of the law school, transforming it into a campus center with a three-story library, a student lounge and café, health and counseling centers, career services offices, and abundant space for classrooms and student activities. The renovated building also serves as a home for the Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center.
An Increasingly Global University
Fordham also extended its influence beyond New York City in dramatic fashion during Father McShane’s tenure.
In 2008, Fordham opened its Westchester campus in West Harrison, New York—a home away from home for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies as well as the graduate schools of Business, Education, Religion and Religious Education, and Social Service.
A decade later, Fordham established a home of its own in the United Kingdom’s most cosmopolitan city. Fordham London, a six-story building in the city’s Clerkenwell neighborhood, opened in fall 2018 to more than 300 undergraduates from Fordham and other U.S. universities.
At the London campus, students take courses in business and the liberal arts while interning in marketing, banking, media, health science, and other fields. “A big part of Fordham’s educational approach is applied learning, using the city as our campus, and London provides a whole new way to do that,” Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., dean of the Gabelli School of Business, said at the time.
The University also bolstered its longstanding partnership with Peking University in Beijing and established a partnership with the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where students pursue research in emerging markets, among other subjects, and take part in the Ubuntu Service Learning program.
During Father McShane’s tenure, Fordham increased its study abroad options to 110 programs in 52 countries. Prior to the pandemic, the University ranked No. 31 in the country for the number of students it sends abroad each year, according to the Institute of International Education.
Academic Growth and Partnerships
During his six years as dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill during the 1990s, Father McShane prioritized faculty development and student scholarship.
Soon after returning to Fordham as president, he picked up where he left off, establishing the Office of Prestigious Fellowships to help students compete for and win prestigious postgraduate scholarships to further their intellectual and personal growth. The results have been impressive: Since 2003, Fordham students have earned 2,121 prestigious fellowships and scholarships, including 158 Fulbright awards, placing the University among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars.
Father McShane also encouraged faculty and administrators to renew and develop innovative academic programs to meet students’ needs. Since 2003, the University has not only launched a host of new degree programs—in public media, health administration, and international humanitarian action, to name a few—but also established academic centers, including the Center on National Security and the Center on Race, Law and Justice, where faculty and students advance research and public discourse to address some of the most urgent challenges of the 21st century.
Fordham has also emerged as a global leader in cybersecurity education in the past decade, thanks in part to a partnership with the FBI.
Since 2009, the University has worked with the FBI to organize and host the International Conference on Cyber Security, or ICCS. Typically held every 18 months, the conference attracts top security and law enforcement officials, university researchers, and executives from companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Google.
Fordham also established a master’s degree program in cybersecurity, which has tripled in enrollment since 2016. The National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security have designated Fordham a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, and last year, the NSA awarded the University a $3 million grant to lead an effort to help historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions develop their own cybersecurity programs.
New York City: Partner in Education
While Fordham has become an increasingly prominent national and global university in the past two decades, it continues reaching out to its local communities through service, academic partnerships, and various other initiatives such as the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) for students from underrepresented groups.
In his inaugural address in 2003, Father McShane described the University’s longstanding ties to New York City, and he challenged the Fordham community to find new ways to learn from its neighbors and contribute to their well-being.
“The city that we are proud to call our home is not merely our address,” he said. “It is and has been our partner in education, our laboratory, and our classroom from the moment that Archbishop Hughes first stepped foot on Rose Hill Manor to launch the great enterprise of Catholic higher education in the Northeast in 1841.”
More than ever before, New York is on the syllabus for Fordham students. During Father McShane’s tenure, Fordham established and reinforced partnerships with some of the city’s top civic and educational institutions.
In 2012, for example, Fordham joined four other renowned Bronx institutions—the New York Botanical Garden, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society, and Montefiore Medical Center—to create the Bronx Science Consortium. The partnership has increased collaborative research and educational opportunities for students and scientists, and helped elevate the borough’s status as a critical contributor to New York’s “Eds and Meds” sector—the academic, research, and medical institutions that drive innovation and help fuel the city’s economy.
Fordham has also strengthened its internships program, which has grown to include more than 3,500 partner organizations, and given students many more ways to get involved in community-based work.
The Center for Community Engaged Learning, established in 2018, oversees both Urban Plunge, the pre-orientation program that introduces first-year students to New York City through service, and Global Outreach, which connects students with community-based organizations in the U.S. and abroad to help them better understand social justice issues at the ground level.
The center also helps faculty develop courses that connect students with local organizations working to understand societal problems and promote the common good. The number of community engaged learning courses has increased from seven to 52 in just the past few years.
During Father McShane’s tenure, Fordham also established the Social Innovation Collaboratory, a network of students, faculty, administrators, alumni, and community members working together to promote social innovation for the achievement of social justice, social entrepreneurship, and environmental sustainability.
In 2014, Fordham became one of 45 colleges and universities to be designated a “Changemaker Campus” by Ashoka, a global organization that honors universities for innovative efforts to foster social good and strengthen society.
Community and Civic Leadership
Through his own civic engagement, Father McShane has set the tone for the University’s deepening involvement with the life of the city.
He has served on the board of the Museum of Civil Rights in Harlem, for example; on mayoral task forces on the future of higher education, the future of media, and workforce development; on an advisory board for the Metropolitan Transit Authority; and on the New York City Charter Revision Commission, appointed by then mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2010. In 2017, he was honored by the 100 Year Association for Fordham’s commitment to community service and its contributions to New York City.
On the state level, Father McShane served two terms as chair of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), an Albany-based nonprofit organization that represents the chief executives of New York’s colleges and universities on issues of public policy.
“Father McShane is an indefatigable voice for higher education and its ability to transform lives,” said former CICU president Mary Beth Labate. “As a twice-elected chair of the commission, Father was extraordinarily generous with his time and talents in the quest to insure that students, no matter their socioeconomic background, had access to a high quality education.
“When I accompanied him in the halls of the state capitol, he was greeted like the rock star that he is. The size of his contributions was only outmatched by the size of his heart. Colleges and students across the state owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Most recently, Father McShane served on the New York Forward Advisory Board to help shape the state’s plan for reopening after the pandemic, drawing on his experiences leading the Fordham community through some of the most challenging years in its history.
Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic
In early March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the U.S., Father McShane, like many other university presidents and chief executives, faced a crisis for which there was no playbook.
He made what he called the “difficult but necessary decision” to suspend face-to-face classes on March 9 and transition to remote learning for the rest of the semester. Then he established the Fordham Forward Task Force, which worked to prepare the University for reopening safely on the ground for the 2020–2021 academic year and again this year.
Finally, he identified three priorities that continue to guide the University’s decision-making throughout the crisis: protect the University’s people; preserve the University’s ability to provide students with a world-class Jesuit education; and “emerge from the pandemic with the strength needed to fulfill our mission and to confront the challenges of the future with renewed hope and vigor.”
Father McShane worked closely with the task force, the Board of Trustees, the Faculty Senate, and the finance office to balance the 2020 and 2021 budgets, which had $38 million and $105 million gaps, respectively, as a result of the fallout from the pandemic.
“Leadership is a risky business, even in the best of circumstances, because it is asking people to change, often to sacrifice,” said Donna M. Carroll, president emerita of Dominican University and a trustee fellow of Fordham University. “Father McShane has been focused and persistent in his service to Fordham, navigating difficult conversations with patience, candor, and encouragement. Fordham’s strength in the aftermath of the pandemic is a tribute to his sustained leadership, though he would be the first to highlight the contributions of others.”
By the conclusion of the 2020–2021 academic year, as pandemic-related restrictions began to ease temporarily across the country, Fordham hosted a series of diploma ceremonies on Edwards Parade. Father McShane saluted the Class of 2021 for its perseverance: “You never surrendered. Rather, you rose to every challenge that the world threw at you,” he said.
He also noted that graduates completed their studies in a year marked not only by a global pandemic but also by an economic downturn, a reckoning with racism, and an assault on the U.S. Capitol and the democratic principles upon which our nation has been built and sustained.
“The toll these cascading plagues has taken on all of us, and on you in a special way, has been enormous,” he said. “With ease and grace, you became one another’s keepers, and in the process, you became ministers of cura personalis to one another,” he said, referring to the Jesuit principle of “care of the whole person” that is at the heart of a Fordham education.
Fighting Racism, Educating for Justice
Father McShane has made a renewed commitment to anti-racism a top priority of his final years in office. In a State of the University address delivered virtually on September 12, 2020, he noted that the preceding academic year had marked not only the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but also the “blossoming of a new civil rights movement aimed at addressing racism in our country.”
In June 2020, after the May 25 killing of George Floyd galvanized global protests against racial injustice—and amid cries from the heart of the Fordham community—Father McShane put forth a plan to address systemic racism and do more to build a diverse, inclusive, and affirming community at Fordham.
“The heartfelt testimony given by members of our community in the course of the summer has made it searingly clear that racism is also present here at Fordham,” Father McShane said, referring to stories of discrimination students and alumni of color shared, largely on social media.
“As painful as that admission may be, we must face up to it. Therefore, let me be clear: anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion are institutional and mission priorities at Fordham, priorities that grow out of our identity as an American, Catholic, and Jesuit institution located in the City of New York.”
He added: “With regard to confronting racism, let us be honest. This is and will be an ongoing challenge, for we will be called upon to confront both the kind of blatant, brutal racism that was behind the deaths of George Floyd and so many others of our sisters and brothers, and the racism of indifference that gives blatant racism its real power: the racism of the blind eye, the racism of silence, and the racism of self-absolution.”
The Board of Trustees approved the plan, which Father McShane crafted in concert with the offices of the provost and the chief diversity officer. The board also charged the newly renamed Mission and Social Justice Committee to oversee the University’s anti-racism strategy, and the trustees mandated annual anti-racism training for all faculty, students, staff, and administrators—including the president’s cabinet and the board itself.
Continuing the Mission: ‘Bothered Excellence’
Throughout his tenure, Father McShane has made an eloquent case for what he calls “the urgent purpose” behind Jesuit education. It’s a purpose that is at the heart of the University’s anti-racism efforts and its latest strategic plan, Educating for Justice.
“We want nothing less than to leave you bothered for the rest of your lives,” he told admitted students in an April 2020 video, “bothered by the realization that you don’t know everything and that there are discoveries and adventures waiting for you just over the horizon, and by the realization that there is injustice in the world, injustice that cries out for a caring response.”
By any measure, Father McShane’s presidency has been transformative. There are the new buildings, new programs, and record-breaking advances in enrollment and fundraising. But beyond the data and tangible evidence of growth, he has embodied the values of the University, trustees say, and placed Fordham in a position to strengthen its mission.
“I cannot imagine a finer leader during his tenure—the personification of the ideal Jesuit, a superb scholar, and a true New Yorker,” said Edward M. Stroz, GABELLI ’79, a Fordham trustee. “Whether measured by student applications and graduations, growth of the endowment, or the cultivation of Fordham’s presence in New York, what Father McShane has done is extraordinary and a source of pride for us all. He will leave Fordham in a very strong position for continuing its mission for our students in the future.”
Another Fordham trustee, Anthony Carter, FCRH ’76, a co-chair of the board’s Mission and Social Justice Committee, spoke about the pastoral quality of Father McShane’s leadership.
“In addition to being a generous servant of God with abundant love for Fordham, he has served us all with a kind heart, purity of spirit, faith-driven humility, and passion for diversity and inclusiveness,” Carter said. “In order to burnish Father McShane’s impressive legacy into the history books and our hearts, we should all strive to imitate his gentle soul and love for humankind.”
For Nora Ahern Grose, GABELLI ’84, who has been a member of the Board of Trustees for 10 years, the year ahead will be an emotional one.
“[Father McShane] has challenged us, in his self-effacing and kind manner, to advance the mission, quality, and portrait of Fordham to distinct and exceptional heights,” she said. “We look forward to another year of his leadership, a year when every laugh and tear, every celebration of accomplishment, every quiet moment of prayer and reflection with our dear Father McShane will have even greater significance than previously.
“We will say thank you many times, and he will always reply that he was the grateful one.”
Tributes to Father McShane
As Father McShane announced his plan to step down in June 2022, current and former Fordham trustees and other leaders in higher education expressed their appreciation and deep gratitude for his service on behalf of the University and its people.
You have been an amazing leader, Joe—for Fordham and for the rest of us in higher education. You’ve also been a friend and I value that a great deal.
—Stephen Ainlay, Former President, Union College
When I learned that this is your last year leading Fordham University, I wanted to thank you on behalf of CICU for your tremendous contributions over the years. Your service on the CICU board has left a lasting impact, as has your leadership in New York state and in our sector. While I and CICU staff are sorry to lose you as an advocate, we look forward to working with you during the remainder of your tenure. Congratulations on your impending retirement. I wish you many healthy, happy, and fulfilling years.
—Lola W. Brabham, President, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU)
As chairman of the search committee 18 years ago, it was my privilege to put forward the recommendation of Joseph McShane, S.J., as president of Fordham University. It was a great day for Fordham, as have been the subsequent soon to be 19 years that have followed. The University has flourished under his leadership and caring nature for every individual. It has been a wonderful personal and professional pleasure knowing him, and I wish him continued success as he completes this farewell year as Fordham’s president.
—Robert E. Campbell, GABELLI ’55, Trustee Emeritus and Former Chair, Fordham University Board of Trustees; Retired Vice Chairman, Johnson & Johnson
Joseph McShane, S.J., is recognized among Catholic university leaders and within his New York colleague group as a stunningly successful, mission-driven president. Intense, passionate, and charismatically articulate, he has transformed Fordham University from a strong regional institution to a national leader—increasing quality, enrollment, and reputation, and resulting in skyrocketing alumni support.
Leadership is a risky business, even in the best of circumstances, because it is asking people to change, often to sacrifice. Father McShane has been focused and persistent in his service to Fordham, navigating difficult conversations with patience, candor, and encouragement. Fordham’s strength in the aftermath of the pandemic is a tribute to his sustained leadership, though he would be the first to highlight the contributions of others.
I have known Joe McShane since we worked together at Fordham in the early ’90s, then as a trustee and through two high-impact presidencies. He is one of the most intelligent, quick witted, generous people that I know. The presidency can wear you down, but Joe is always upbeat, forward-looking, and engaged. He has been a lasting gift to Fordham.
—Donna M. Carroll, President Emerita, Dominican University; Trustee Fellow, Fordham University
As a proud Fordham University trustee, I have been blessed to have worked with Father Joseph McShane, Reverend President as I affectionately call him. I’ve watched with admiration, appreciation, and at times awe as he has fulfilled so many of his dreams, goals, and objectives for our beloved Fordham University. The state of the University is in an enviable position because of his leadership.
There are so many memories about our Reverend President I will cherish forever. In addition to being a generous servant of God with abundant love for Fordham, he has served us all with a kind heart, purity of spirit, faith-driven humility, and passion for diversity and inclusiveness.
In order to burnish Father McShane’s impressive legacy into the history books and our hearts, we should all strive to imitate his gentle soul and love for humankind.
—Anthony Carter, FCRH ’76, Fordham University Trustee; Former Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Johnson & Johnson
Father McShane has been a Casey family friend since his days as president of the University of Scranton. His commitment to the education of our next generation of leaders and Fordham’s academic excellence is unparalleled. Throughout his career, he was driven by the Jesuit mission to prepare graduates whose lives are marked by character, conscience, competence, compassion, and commitment to cause of the human family. The University of Scranton and Fordham are better institutions because of his faith, vision, and leadership. I wish him well in this next chapter of his life.
—U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, PAR ’19
AMDG. It’s hard to imagine Fordham University without Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., as its chief visionary, leader, promoter, and president. He is a profound and constant example to the Fordham community and the world of how one person can make such a magnificent difference in people’s lives. His record of achievement over his long, successful tenure certainly can be measured by the beautiful enhancements to Fordham’s capital plant, endowment growth, and funds raised, each of which exceeds or will soon exceed $1 billion. Of even greater and inestimable value are Father McShane’s positive impact on students, Fordham’s standing in the world, and his constant adherence to Ignatian principles. His legacy will secure Fordham’s foundations for generations to come, and we are grateful for his leadership, devotion, and service that made it all possible.
—Gerald C. Crotty, FCRH ’73, Trustee Fellow, Fordham University; President, Weichert Enterprise, LLC
We have had the privilege of knowing and working with Father McShane for more than two decades in his roles as president of Fordham and dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill. In that time he has transformed Fordham through his wise leadership and prodigious fundraising, raising the University to national prominence. He has also been the soul of the University—its pastor in chief. In times of crisis and grief he has consoled the on-campus community, and thousands of alumni spread across the globe, including us. We will greatly miss his intelligence, deep wisdom, and compassion.
—Maurice J. (Mo) Cunniffe, FCRH ’54, and Carolyn Dursi Cunniffe, Ph.D., GSAS ’71
Take it from me: leadership and administration today is not a blissful task. Father McShane did it with gusto, effectiveness, cheer, and wisdom for 19 years. Thanks, Joe! We’ll miss you!
—Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
My family and I have been beneficiaries of Father McShane’s counsel, his guidance on matters of faith, and his friendship for the 20 or so years we have known him, from his days as dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill to his current position as president of the finest Catholic University in the nation. He has often described himself as the Flaherty family priest, an honor greatly appreciated by the 18 of us. He has, after all, baptized one grandson, blessed the wedding of our son Kevin, and buried my wife, mother of four and Nana of 10, all in the last 6 years. A brief disclosure: Kevin was Jane’s favorite child; we all knew that. I hate to break the news to Father McShane, but Father O’Hare was Jane’s favorite Jesuit.
I shall be sorry when he leaves for my selfish reasons, but also because I believe the University will be poorer for his absence in many respects. Firstly, he has been the best fundraiser we’ve had here. I’ve been told that anyone can raise funds; I hope trustees are correct. Secondly, he believes he is a priest first and president second; I think he has his priorities right. And lastly, of course, his Irishness permeates his smile, his interaction with students, and even his relationship with trustees and faculty; no easy task that.
He will be missed by me and I suspect by the University over the coming years.
—James P. Flaherty, FCRH ’69, Fordham University Trustee; Founder and Chairman, International Health Investor
During Father McShane’s presidency, Fordham has undergone a renaissance. The University today boasts strong admission numbers, a record endowment, and many successful capital improvements. In perhaps the greatest tests of his steadfast leadership, he has expertly navigated the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 and currently the COVID-19 pandemic.
As his 19-year mark and retirement approach, we extend our deepest gratitude for his exemplary service, along with all good wishes for the future.
—Mario Gabelli, B.S. ’65, Alumnus, Namesake, and Benefactor of the Gabelli School of Business; and Regina Pitaro, FCRH ’76
For more than his 25 years at Fordham, Father McShane has been an important voice for Catholic higher education, for Jesuit universities, and, indeed, for the importance of public and private support for education of all citizens, especially the marginalized and those who have been deprived of this critical opportunity. His energy and enthusiasm have inspired many of us to advocate for the promotion of access and inclusion in private and public education alike. I suspect that, while he may be stepping down from the presidency at Fordham, he will find a way to continue his service and advocacy. He is still very much needed and appreciated.
—Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., President, Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities
There may be a more riveting speaker, a greater inspirer of youth, a better leader or a sharper wit than Father McShane, but having all of these qualities in his abundance is truly exceptional. He has challenged us, in his self-effacing and kind manner, to advance the mission, quality, and portrait of Fordham to distinct and exceptional heights. We look forward to another year of his leadership, a year when every laugh and tear, every celebration of accomplishment, every quiet moment of prayer and reflection with our dear Father McShane will have even greater significance than previously.
We will say thank you many times, and he will always reply that he was the grateful one.
—Nora Ahern Grose, GABELLI ’84, Fordham University Trustee
Father McShane has led Fordham through a period of continued national uncertainty. During his presidency, Fordham has gained academic strength, broadened our national student population, and led fundraising which resulted in an endowment topping $1 billion. He will be missed, but his legacy foretells a bright future for our University.
—Paul Guenther, FCRH ’62, Trustee Emeritus and Former Chair, Fordham University Board of Trustees; Retired President, PaineWebber
Father McShane has been an absolutely remarkable leader for Fordham University and, indeed, for all of higher education in the United States during his career. On every significant national issue involving the Catholic Church, the Society of Jesus, or the role of independent colleges and universities over the past 25 years, Father McShane has been a wise, insightful, and vocal leader who has shaped the discussion and pointed the way forward. Along the way, he has become a trusted friend and adviser to so many of us. To say that his considerable contributions in so many circles will be missed is a vast understatement.
—John J. Hurley, President, Canisius College
Father McShane has been an incredible steward of our beloved Fordham over these many years, and his bold vision has propelled us to places we had only once dreamed about. His fearlessness has empowered and positively impacted Fordham in too many ways to capture in a few sentences. However, the place where I believe he has made an indelible mark is in the area of fundraising, when he insisted that Fordham start to dream bolder dreams and fundraise in a way to ensure we attain those dreams.
Because of Father, a new culture of giving at Fordham blossomed and continues to grow and strengthen.
I have been proud to witness firsthand the love, commitment, vision, and passion Father McShane has for the University. By continuing to push and by always keeping his eyes on the horizon, Father McShane has not only secured Fordham’s place but has set the University on the path to greatness. I do not think it is an overstatement to say that other than John Hughes, the founder of Fordham, no other single individual has had such an immense, lasting, and powerful impact on the University.
What Father has done will impact every person who steps foot on the campuses of Fordham University for generations. However, he also has had positive impacts on so many people on very personal levels. He has enriched my life and has been a wonderful friend who provided strength and love when most needed. I know that there are so many in the Fordham community who have had the same experience.
Honestly, all I can say to Father is thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all you have done for every member of the Fordham family.
—Darlene Luccio Jordan, FCRH ’89, Fordham University Trustee; Co-Chair, Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham and Faith & Hope | The Campaign for Financial Aid; Executive Director, The Gerald R. Jordan Foundation
Father, your announcement surprised me, as I instinctively think of you and Fordham as synonymous and everlasting. No person certainly is ever indispensable, but you come as close as anyone in my lifetime because every aspect of Fordham under your leadership has fundamentally improved. Most importantly, the quality of our values-based education in strengthening the moral and spiritual underpinning of our students’
character development. I have had so much feedback from our students through the years during your leadership as they openly expressed their devotion and gratitude to Fordham for changing their lives. Feel good about the tens of thousands of our graduates who are leading productive and quality life experiences propelled and advanced by their transformational Fordham experience.
You touched every aspect of Fordham in improving student selection, staff/faculty hiring, the everyday functioning of the University, the athletic programs, facilities management, and, of course, your extraordinarily successful fundraising campaigns. Father, you established a strong financial foundation securing Fordham’s future. You were also Fordham’s greatest champion and you made us all proud of our Fordham experience enlisting so many of us in your journey to make Fordham even better.
I wish you all the very best that life has to offer as you transition to a new role, but please know how grateful we are for your leadership and your friendship. I truly value how you were there for me during my most difficult life challenge, the loss of Terry after 55 years. Providing comfort to me and my family and offering her funeral Mass and service at Arlington will always be close to our hearts. May God’s blessing be upon you, dear friend. Much love and respect.
—Jack Keane, GABELLI ’66, Trustee Fellow, Fordham University; Former Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army; Chairman, Institute for the Study of War
Father McShane is an indefatigable voice for higher education and its ability to transform lives. As a twice-elected chair of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), Father was extraordinarily generous with his time and talents in the quest to ensure that students, no matter their socioeconomic background, had access to a high-quality education. When I accompanied him in the halls of the state capitol, he was greeted like the rock star that he is. The size of his contributions were only outmatched by the size of his heart. Colleges and students across the state owe him a debt of gratitude.
—Mary Beth Labate, Former President, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities
Father McShane is a much respected and appreciated leader, clearly committed to higher education and the intellectual apostolate. He and I have been friends for more than 40 years, and I have always found him to be compassionate, insightful, and dedicated. On many occasions, I and others have enjoyed his gift for enlivening meetings with telling observations and wit, and I know that people greatly enjoy his company.
Thanks to Father McShane’s effort, Fordham is a better, stronger academic institution, more able to meet challenges and opportunities. His impact has been immense, evident to anyone walking on the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses. While I regret that he will be stepping down as Fordham’s president in summer 2022, I know that he will continue making significant contributions as a faithful Jesuit priest and educator wherever he is in the future.
—William P. Leahy, S.J., President, Boston College
Father Joe McShane has led Fordham University with energy, purpose, and grace for nearly two decades. Thanks to his leadership, Fordham is an academically stronger, more vibrant, and more influential university than ever before. At the same time, he has been an important and highly respected voice in discussions nationally about the role and place of colleges and universities in the 21st century. Across the diverse landscape of American higher education, all of us who were lucky to work with him and benefit from his wise counsel are grateful and will miss his insightful and thoughtful help. Thanks, Joe.
—Ted Mitchell, President, American Council on Education
Under Father McShane’s outstanding leadership, Fordham has transformed itself from a well-regarded regional institution into a distinguished, nationally and internationally recognized university.
—Armando Nuñez Jr., GABELLI ’82, Vice Chair, Fordham University Board of Trustees; Advisor and Former CEO, Global Distribution Group, Viacom CBS
As Father McShane approaches retirement from his current position, I am honored to express the admiration and gratitude of his brother Jesuits. I can testify to the deep love for and commitment to Fordham that have marked Father McShane’s 25 years of service to the University, six as dean of Fordham College and 19 as president. In the future, as a loyal son of Saint Ignatius Loyola, he will bring his depth of experience and dedication to new ministerial assignments after a well-deserved break.
—Joseph M. O’Keefe, S.J., GSAS ’81, Provincial, USA East Province of the Society of Jesus
I vividly recall driving out to Scranton with fellow board member and Presidential Search Committee member Pat Nazemetz to interview Father McShane. He gave us a tour of the Scranton University campus. Everyone we passed greeted him with a broad smile. It was clear he was deeply admired and that he felt very comfortable chatting with the students.
We had a very pleasant lunch at a local golf club. Father McShane’s deep love and knowledge of Fordham was palpable. Pat and I had a sense that he was clearly the person who could enthusiastically build on what Father Joe O’Hare had accomplished and take Fordham to new heights. When Pat and I reported to the search committee, they were thrilled to hear how enthusiastic Father McShane was about the possibility of being Father O’Hare’s successor. He did not disappoint us.
Father McShane’s many bold initiatives over his long tenure have made Fordham a first-class world university. He leaves behind a legacy that will ensure Fordham will continue to be a world-class Jesuit university.
Thank you, Father McShane.
—Joseph P. Parkes, S.J., JES ’68, Provincial Assistant for Secondary and Pre-Secondary Education, USA East Province of the Society of Jesus; Former Fordham University Trustee; and Former President, Cristo Rey New York High School
When the history of Fordham University in our time is written, the tenure of Father McShane will stand out for its excellence. Fordham’s unprecedented growth as one of the premier universities not just in our region, not just in our nation, but in the entire world was meteoric and no accident, the result of meticulous planning and cultivation. The Fordham community has become a beacon almost unmatched in scholarship, teaching, and culture under Father McShane’s steady hand. So while I am sad to lose Father McShane’s leadership of our Fordham, I am excited for the future of our great institution. That future was paved by the guidance of Father Joseph M. McShane.
—U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., FCRH ’59, GSAS ’61
You have done an amazing job advancing the University and are an enthusiastic and eloquent advocate for all that Fordham does and all for which it stands. It is hard to think of either you or Fordham without the other.
While your list of accomplishments at Fordham is long and worthy of great praise, so too are the many things you have done outside of Fordham itself. In the organizations in which we have overlapped (AJCU, CICU, and A-10, among them), all have benefited from the substantial impact you have on decisions and direction. You always provide wise, values-based insights and compelling arguments, grounded in a passion to make things better. And Jesuit higher education overall has benefited enormously from your advocacy.
Further, I have always admired your ability to connect with so many and do so with such genuine concern and sincerity. You are generous with your time and supportive of fellow travelers.
I can sense your modesty deflecting this and much of the other well-deserved accolades you are receiving. You have made a difference, Joe, a big difference, and done so across many realms. You have done the Lord’s work well and I pray that you have many more years to continue to do so.
—Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., President, Saint Louis University
Father McShane has been an incredible leader and Fordham has become a new and better institution under his leadership. He leaves a legacy of excellence, integrity, and perseverance not just with the Fordham family but with the broader community, all guided by his faith and an unwavering commitment to helping his fellow man and woman achieve their God-given gifts. He is a giant in academia who leaves behind big shoes to fill.
—Valerie Rainford, FCRH ’86, Fordham University Trustee; CEO, Elloree Talent Strategies
As a loyal member of the Fordham family for over 60 years (four degrees), I have had the privilege of observing closely our university’s arc of development. There is no doubt that the McShane years have been transformative, establishing the Jesuit university of New York City as a magnet for talent from around our country and the world, thereby creating a contemporary manifestation of the core values of Jesuit education. And even as Father Joe led our University to this new version of itself, he became a champion of those values to all in higher education and a universally admired role model for those of us who devote our lives to improving education generally. I (we all) will miss his voice in our daily conversations; but, believe me, we will turn to him regularly for advice.
—John Sexton, FCRH ’63, GSAS ’65, ’78, President Emeritus, New York University
Fordham is synonymous with Father Joe, and so is higher education in New York more broadly. You have been such an important presence and voice in this work, and such an inviting and generous colleague to me as I have come into this sector and this state. I am sad for all of us that you are moving on to your next chapter but, of course, happy for you as you embark on whatever it is that is next for you.
—Laura Sparks, President, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Father McShane has an incredible legacy of accomplishments during his years as president at Fordham University. I cannot imagine a finer leader during his tenure—the personification of the ideal Jesuit, a superb scholar, and a true New Yorker. Whether measured by student applications and graduations, growth of the endowment, or the cultivation of Fordham’s presence in New York, what Father McShane has done is extraordinary and a source of pride for us all. He will leave Fordham in a very strong position for continuing its mission for our students in the future.
—Edward M. Stroz, GABELLI ’79, Fordham University Trustee; Co-Founder and Retired Executive Chairman, Stroz Friedberg LLC
“I love Father Joseph McShane. While I am so happy that he will be moving on to this next, happy phase in his life, I know Fordham is losing an exemplary leader who has led us to new heights. Father O’Hare was a hard act to follow, but Father McShane has exceeded our expectations. We thank him for dedicating his life to God and all of us. On behalf of my family, myself, and the wider community, we have all benefited from his wisdom, his humor, his intellect, his work, his love, and his guidance. I wish my friend the very best. Let us all try and emulate our leader Father Joseph McShane, and to truly thank him, let us recommit ourselves Ad majorem Dei gloriam!”
—U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, LAW ’89, PAR ’17
It is difficult to sum up the profound impact that Father McShane’s leadership and character have had on Fordham over the years. Suffice it to say that he has worked tirelessly and effectively to drive Fordham’s rise to ever-greater prominence, and ensure that it remains a special, welcoming place: elite without being elitist, and faithful to its mission of educating students of distinction who will make a difference in the world.
—John N. Tognino, PCS ’75, Former Chair, Fordham University Board of Trustees; Chairman and CEO, Pepper Financial Group
As Father McShane moves on from his longtime post as president of Fordham University, we can reflect on the tremendous contribution he made for students and alumni like myself. He had an innate ability to inspire students, staff, and faculty toward Jesuit principles—to better ourselves, and at the same time, be men and women for others, especially the poor. For this and his unwavering commitment to the Fordham community, we thank him for his work and service. His influence will continue to be felt beyond the university, and wherever God sends him next.
—U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, GSAS ’87