The Fordham College Rose Hill (FCRH) Class of 2009 bid adieu to Fordham at an Encaenia ceremony that was the last for the college’s dean, Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D.
The annual event, which was held on May 14 in the Rose Hill Gymnasium, drew students, friends and family to celebrate membership in honor societies such as Phi Beta Kappa; winning Fulbright fellowships and other prestigious awards; and a host of additional achievements.
O’Donnell, who will begin his duties as president of Manhattan College in July, noted that there was a certain symmetry to this Encaenia, as this was the first class he recruited when he became FCRH dean in 2004. Addressing the soon-to-be graduates, he told them that their liberal arts educations would help them look beyond troubled times.
“I hope that such a long view makes you more than usually suspicious of the claims of the information-entertainment industry, when it uses terms like unprecedented, or tells you things are skyrocketing, or nose diving, soaring, or crashing, imploding or exploding, or that they’re tottering or teetering on the brink,” he said.
“All this is very exciting, no doubt, but words like skyrocketing or nose diving—applied to economy, for example—are what George Orwell called ‘dying metaphors,’” O’Donnell explained.
“These are words that once expressed a fresh and accurate view of reality by making apt comparison, but have now become placeholders for thoughtless speakers who are imitating other thoughtless speakers who have forgotten that they’re even using metaphors.”
He also thanked colleagues at Fordham, and in particular, Veronica Boland, assistant to the dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill. Boland is leaving after 30 years to become executive assistant to the president of Manhattan College.
“While as the president-elect of Manhattan College I could not be more delighted, as the current dean of the college, and Veronica’s seventh dean, I know exactly how sad a day it will be for her colleagues when the day of her departure comes,” he said.
“In presenting her earlier this year with the Sursum Corda award—the highest award that the University gives to its employees—I said of Veronica: Her uncompromising insistence on doing things right is matched only by the good-humored graciousness that marks everything that she does. She has exquisite tact, which means that she almost never has to correct the dean . . .directly.”
The Claver Award, which is named for St. Peter Claver, an 18th-century Spanish Jesuit, was presented to Stephanie Crane. Fordham’s Jesuit community gives it annually to the Rose Hill senior who most exemplifies the University’s dedication to community service.
Michelle Costantino received the Fordham College Alumni Award, which is a chair presented to the student who best shows the Fordham spirit of excellence in academic, service and extracurricular activities.
In her valedictory address, Christine Schwall, told her fellow classmates that the U2 concert that occurred this past March on Edwards Parade was an example of the togetherness that made her time at Fordham memorable, and even helped her cope with her father’s death during her sophomore year.
“A line from one of their songs, “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” seems to be describing what we might be feeling tonight, or how our job search is going. The lines, “Here’s what we got to be: love and community,” may be voicing something we all finally appreciate,” she said.
Having been nurtured in the Fordham community, Schwall extorted her classmates to give back to the world community.
“As Mark Twain once said, ‘Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.’ Class of 2009, as I leave you this evening, consider the following: as a result of the education we have received from Fordham, what do we owe the world?”