By Joanna Klimaski Mercuri
and Patrick Verel
Gray skies and 90 percent humidity weren’t enough to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands who descended upon Fordham on Aug. 31 to welcome the Class of 2018.
More than 2,200 freshmen participated in Fordham’s Opening Day, with 1,700 students moving into the residence halls and 539 commuter students checking in.
Despite the crowds arriving at the Rose Hill campus, the day unfolded with its customary precision.
“When you get to the residence halls, don’t pick up a thing,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, greeting caravans of freshmen and their families. “The students will take care of everything.”
As cars from as far as San Francisco and as near as White Plains pulled into the parking lot, Father McShane and student volunteers offered the travelers water bottles and some helpful pointers.
“You must visit Arthur Avenue while you’re here,” Father McShane counseled. “I recommend Tra Di Noi. Tell them I sent you. Do you like veal? You can cut it with a spoon there.”
He motioned to an SUV with Louisiana license plates to roll down the windows. “You’re moving into Loyola?” Father McShane asked a student in the back seat half-concealed by a mini refrigerator. “You are so lucky.”
Making Rose Hill history, about 130 students participating in the Manresa Scholars Program moved into the newly renovated Loyola Hall, which was once home to more than 100 Jesuit priests. The 86-year-old Gothic building includes classrooms equipped with SMART technology, a kitchen, study nooks, and the St. Ignatius of Loyola Chapel.
On the fourth floor, Maine resident Sarah O’Connell was moving into a spacious triple overlooking Cunniffe House. As she placed keychains shaped like work boots (tokens from her home state) on her new roommates’ beds, she recalled her first visit to Fordham.
“It was like a scene from [the TV show]‘Say Yes to the Dress.’ I stepped on Fordham’s campus and immediately knew that this is where I wanted to be,” she said.
“One of the deciding factors was that when I came for a tour, everyone was wearing Fordham apparel,” she added. “It sounds trivial, but it showed that the students here have a sense of pride in their school.”
Meanwhile, across campus new commuter students were checking in. For some, the day was an introduction to the Bronx campus, while for others it was a homecoming.
“I wanted to stay in New York City and go to a school where I could study environmental science,” said I’aliyah Wiggins, a Parkchester native who had already taken summer classes on campus. “Fordham seemed to have everything I wanted.”
At the Lincoln Center campus, the soaring, 22-story high McKeon Hall was the star of the day. Perched atop the new Fordham School of Law building, which opened its doors earlier in the month, the Pei Cobb Freed-designed building was buzzing with movers from 7:30 a.m. until late afternoon.
West 62nd Street was closed to non-Fordham and Lincoln Center traffic for the occasion, and while workers toiled across the street on Fashion Week facilities at Damrosch Park, Fordham families arrived at times pegged to their floor number.
With roughly 100 international students already there, the four elevators delivered 306 more to the eco-friendly high-rise, which features modern bedroom suites, common living spaces, study lounges, a movie theater, a dance space, a dining hall, and great views.
Mark Mecurio drove down from Providence, R.I., to drop off his fourth son, Nicholas, who will pursue theater at Fordham College Lincoln Center. They marveled at the operation from the sidewalk.
“Out of all four, this was the easiest. The service is unbelievable. You come in, they tell you where to go, everybody’s here to help you, they unload your car, and in ten minutes, you’re out,” he said.
“This is in the city; I figured it would be the most difficult, and it was the easiest.”
Among the new residents of the building are 62 students enrolled at the Gabelli School of Business’ brand-new, undergraduate program at Lincoln Center, offering a Bachelor of Science in Global Business. Some, like Whittier, Calif. resident Gregory Govea Lopez, needed to only visit New York City once to settle on Fordham.
For incoming Fordham College at Lincoln Center student Esther Feliz Terrero, moving to Manhattan from the Dominican Republic was both exciting and bittersweet. She was born in Yonkers and lived there until her family moved to Santo Domingo, but she was drawn back to the United States for her education.
“I always loved New York, and I’ve always come back for the summer. I just love roaming around the city,” she said.
“Fordham is a very good college, and it’s liberal arts, which I wanted. I like that my classes won’t just be my major. I want to become a global citizen and know a bit about everything.”