Fordham alumni and students, elected officials and honored guests filled the Waldorf=Astoria Grand Ballroom for the 3rd annual Fordham Founder’s Award Dinner on March 29 to honor author Mary Higgins Clark (FCLC ’79) and retired General John M. Keane (CBA ’66). The gala event, attended by 650 people, also raised $1.1 million for the Fordham Founder’s Presidential Scholarship Fund, awarded to exceptional students who are guided by their curiosity of mind and strength of spirit.
Mary Higgins Clark—best-selling suspense writer, literacy advocate and active participant in Catholic affairs—and four-star General John M. Keane—a combat veteran who served as vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army—were honored for their extraordinary contributions to society and their personification of Fordham’s mission.
“Tonight we honor two alumni whose personal and professional lives reflect the University’s defining traditions as an institution dedicated to wisdom and learning in the service of others,” said Paul B. Guenther, chair of the Fordham University Board of Trustees. “Proof of a great university is reflected in the lives and accomplishments of its graduates. And our honorees and distinguished members of the political, academic, religious and business communities here tonight reflect the far-reaching impact that the University has in so many branches of society.”
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., the 32nd president of Fordham University, told the audience that we are all challenged by the achievements of Clark and Keane and that Fordham is honored to count them among its sons and daughters.
Father McShane also announced two multimillion-dollar gifts recently made to the University. The first, a $4 million anonymous donation, will fund the John Boyd Chair in Poetic Imagination and the Karl Rahner Chair of Theology, and a $2 million gift from the Burnett Foundation of Forth Worth, Texas will fund the John L. Marion Chair of Art History, Painting and Sculpture.
“These three chairs will enable the University to strengthen its standing in the wider world of American higher education,” said Father McShane. “It is my hope that the generosity of these donors will inspire many of our friends to follow their example and help the University achieve its dream of becoming, once again, the premier Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States.”
Among the special guests in attendance were New York Sens. Charles Schumer, who called Fordham a “crown jewel of New York City,” and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has worked closely on the Armed Services Committee with General Keane and read his citation.