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Fordham Celebrates its Longest-Serving Employees


Fordham University honored 31 of its most dedicated staff and faculty members at the 2013 Convocation on March 3, saluting the group’s collective 700 years of loyal service to the University.

At a ceremony held in Lincoln Center campus’ Pope Auditorium, 14 staff members received the Archbishop John Hughes Medal for Service, honoring administrative employees who have been at Fordham 40 or 20 years, and 14 members of the faculty received the Bene Merenti medal for 40- and 20-year service to the University.

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The 31 recipients of the Archbishop Huges Medal for Service, the Bene Merenti medal, and the Sursum Cordaaward were recognized at the 2013 Fordham University Convocation on March 3.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

The Sursum Corda award, which recognizes staff who have made outstanding contributions to the life and mission of the University, went to Paul Thyagaraj, manager of custodial services and facilities management at the Lincoln Center campus; Judy Kelly, administrative assistant in the dean’s office at Fordham College at Lincoln Center; and Karl Mitchell, a carpenter in facilities operations at Rose Hill.

“I’m a Fordham guy,” said Thyagaraj, who, before taking the stage to receive his award, had worked tirelessly with his team to hang banners and set out chairs for the ceremony. “I couldn’t see myself working anywhere other than Fordham.”

For some medalists, the ceremony marked an opportunity to express their gratitude to Fordham, as well as to celebrate their longstanding service.

“It’s heartwarming—I have always thought of Fordham as my extended family,” said 40-year Bene Merenti recipient Margot Nadien, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology. “There is a feeling of connection and caring for the University and for its principles. They are my principles as well.”

A musical prodigy who left her family as a child to study music composition in New York, Nadien made Fordham history in 1980 by becoming the first psychologist tenured at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. And though her four decades of research in development, aging, and the psychology of women have earned her numerous accolades, Nadien remains humble about what the experience has meant for her.

“I don’t know if I can say I feel pride,” she said. “I care most of all for the students and for my interactions with them. They have enriched my life.”

(Top) Joseph M. McShane, S.J. president of Fordham,
presents Margot Nadier, Ph.D., with the Bene Merenti medal for 40 years of service to the University.
(Bottom) Paul Thyagaraj receives a Sursum Corda award for making outstanding contributions to the life and mission
of the University.
Photos by Bruce Gilbert

For others, the ceremony was a reminder that time flies.

“It’s one of those things that creeps up on you,” said Nicholas Johnson, professor of law and a recipient of the 20-year Bene Merentimedal. “You think it doesn’t mean much, but it was actually a great thing. I was happy to be part of [the ceremony].”

Addressing the award recipients and their friends and family members, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, said that the last two and four decades have been “anything but peaceful and uneventful business” for these faculty and staff.

“The faculty members have been about the world-changing work of helping their students develop those habits of heart and mind that will help them transform the world,” he said. “They have, in short, been about the work of educating men and women for others—men and women with a deep sense of mission.”

Father McShane called the administrators “the quiet strength of the University.”

“From the first moment that they arrived in our midst, they have cared for us, nurtured us, protected us from harm, heat, and cold,” he said. “They have been valued and graced colleagues in all of our attempts to fulfill the mission that Archbishop Hughes left in our hands.”

The Fordham University Choir, led by choir director Robert Minotti, enriched the afternoon’s event with their performances of Eric Whitacre’s “With a Lily in your Hand” and the University Alma Mater.

The annual event was sponsored by the Office of the President.


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