For his final act as dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH), Michael Latham showed he can croon along with the best of them.
In his last address at FCRH’s Encaenia annual awards night, before his departure for Grinnell College, Latham quoted Jackson Browne’s version of Stay—in which even as the road crew dismantles the stage, the rapture of performance still resonates and the musician pleads with his audience not to let it end.
“Now the promoter don’t mind. And the union don’t mind. If we take a little time. And leave it all behind, and sing. One more song—You know how it goes,” he said, breaking into song:
“Oh, won’t you stay? Just a little bit longer? Please, please, please . . .” Latham sang to applause.
“But . . . we really can’t stay, can we? Because in less than 48 hours I will hand each of you a diploma and this wonderful celebration of your accomplishments, experience, and growth here at Fordham College will draw to a close. My own time here will also end.”
Since time cannot be stopped or even slowed down, Latham, a professor of history who joined the faculty in 1996 and was appointed interim dean in 2009 and then dean, encouraged students to embrace gratitude for the family and friends who have contributed to their successes. He also encouraged them to pursue a life of solidarity and engagement.
“As Dorothy Day argued in her classic autobiography, “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community,” he told the graduating class. “The deepest, existential questions about who we are, and what our purpose is cannot be answered alone.”
“Instead, they require us to engage in the kind of hard, challenging, giving love that bridges knowledge and experience. This is something, moreover, that you can certainly take with you from your education at Fordham.”
Valedictorian Kristen Cagnino, a chemistry major, singled out Shahrokh Saba, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, for praise. She recalled sitting in his class as a sophomore, having heard “horror stories” about it. Yes, he said, it would require a lot of work, practice and dedication, but he would be there every step of the way, and they would get through the class together.
“The thing about Dr. Saba was that he truly cares about his students. And not only how [we’re] doing in his class but also . . . in life. I can’t tell you how much that means to a student,” she said.
On the lighter side, Lord of the Manor Stephen Ross used his address to poke fun at campus food, social media (“my Fordham Constructive Criticism Facebook page failed to capture the attention of my peers. My blog Let’s Ram the Patriarchy was deemed too militant,”) and explain employment prospects at the CIA and the FBI—where many Fordham graduates, including current CIA Director John Brennan, FCRH ’77, end up.
“Some say it was because students from Catholic schools would be more likely to follow orders from superiors. I personally believe it’s because Fordham students were so used to acronyms,” he said.
“After four years of RHA, CSA, USG, OSLCD, NSO, FET, FNN, FCRH, GSB, SCC, CSS, CSJ, CSC, AMDG….give me a drone, Obama; I’m ready.”