NEW YORK – Nearly 1,000 members of New York City society and the Fordham community gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom on Monday to honor and celebrate the historic 19-year tenure of the Rev. Joseph. A. O’Hare, S.J., the University president. Family, friends, alumni and colleagues paid tribute to the man who has touched so many lives as an educator, civic leader and priest. Father O’Hare, who will retire on June 30, was awarded the 2003 Fordham Founder’s Award. The $1,000-a-plate gala celebration doubled as an educational benefit, raising more than $1.9 million for the Fordham Founder’s Scholarship Fund.
The scholarship is awarded to young men and women whose curiosity of mind and strength of spirit has enabled them to go beyond the boundaries of expectation. The event also attracted several high-profile individuals including best-selling mystery author Mary Higgins Clark (FCLC ’79); Ed Koch, former New York City mayor; Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York; and veteran CBS newsman Charles Osgood (FCO ’54), who served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Irish tenor Ronan Tynan performed two songs, dedicating his emotional rendition of “My Grandfather’s Immigrant Eyes” to Father O’Hare. Recognizing the nation’s preoccupation with the war in Iraq, General John Keane (CBA ’66), vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, solemnly implored the audience’s support for members of the U.S. armed forces serving the country.
Keane’s sentiments were joined by prayers for peace during the invocation and benediction delivered respectively by the Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J.,University chaplain, and Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Fordham’s Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society. After the presentation of a commemorative video that chronicled Father O’Hare’s life and featured many of his close friends and family, Father O’Hare approached the stage amid a rousing standing ovation. He said the purpose of the event was not simply to honor an individual, but rather to mark a profound moment of transition for the Fordham community and those associated with its commitments. “Over the past 19 years I have learned that to be part of Fordham’s living tradition means recognizing the debt we owe past generations, and the commitment we must have for future generations,” said Father O’Hare. “We are beneficiaries of a past where we did not labor and trustees of a future we will not enjoy.”
The dinner co-chairs were Mario J. Gabelli (CBA ’65), chairman, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Gabelli Asset Management, Inc.; Victor F. Ganzi (CBA ’68), president and chief executive officer of The Hearst Corporation; Rose Marie Bravo (TMC ’71), chief executive of Burberry; J. Brendan Ryan (FCO ’64), chief executive officer of FCB; and Sequoia founder William D. Walsh (FCO ’51). Established in 2002, the 160th year of the University’s history, the Fordham Founder’s Award recognizes individuals whose personal and professional lives reflect the highest aspirations of the University’s defining traditions, as an institution dedicated to wisdom and learning in the service of others. Recipients are designated Founders of Fordham for their own achievements and contributions to the University but also because they stand as exemplars of the renewal of the University in its identity and mission by different generations of Fordham men and women.
Last year’s inaugural recipients were William D. Walsh, Esq., Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., and Wellington T. Mara (FCO ’37), president of the New York Giants.