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President’s Council Offers Life Lessons to Young Alumni


President’s Council Chair James J. Houlihan, GSB ’74, PAR, speaks with students about the pros and cons of online education. Photo by Chris Taggart

Should you block your boss on Facebook? Does online learning detract from education? Will technology eliminate interpersonal interactions?

The Fordham President’s Council members launched another year of mentoring on Nov. 4 by posing tough, real-life questions to the younger generation of Fordham students in their charge.

More than two-dozen members of the council—a select group of alumni and benefactors— gathered with young alumni and senior Fordham students for the Fall Executive Leadership Series, held at the Union League Club in Manhattan.

In addition to serving as a networking opportunity, the annual mentoring event includes a series of discussions on contemporary topics concerning intellectual and ethical leadership.

“It’s a great way to contribute to the education of Fordham alumni,” said council member Robert Cappucci, FCRH ’90, LAW ’93. “It shows what a great community this is… You graduate, and you will want to be part of it.”

At Cappucci’s discussion table that evening, which he shared with Council Chair James J. Houlihan, GSB ’74, PAR, a group ranging from philosophy students to pre-med majors debated whether online higher education poses a challenge to the traditional model. Cappucci asked the students if the conveniences of online courses could compete with genuine classroom interactions.

Ashlyne Polynice, a senior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, said they could not.

“The interactions among students are essential, because they help you learn how to have basic human relationships,” Polynice said. “When you’re sitting in front of a computer screen, you miss out on that face-to-face interaction.”

Council member Carolyn Albstein, GBA ’82, agreed, adding that teacher-student interactions are too important to be sacrificed to the Internet.

“One inspiring professor can change you for life,” she said.

Elsewhere in the room, council member Terence Begley, GSB ’86, PAR, cautioned students about their use of social media. Even social media pages intended to be strictly personal are still public domain and therefore open to scrutiny, he said.

“Recruiters do look at Facebook and LinkedIn pages,” Begley said. “And in a competitive job market, if you have two equally qualified candidates, something like a Facebook page might make a difference.”

President’s Council members speak with young alumni and current Fordham students at the Union League Club on Nov. 4. Photo by Chris Taggart

The Executive Leadership Series marks the annual kickoff for the President’s Council, the role of which is to mentor current students and young alumni. Council members lead seminars and guest-lecture classes in their areas of expertise, and also leverage their own corporate relationships to help create opportunities for students and alumni.

“They speak to us about their personal and professional experiences,” said Polynice, who is president of the Fordham Career Ambassadors at Lincoln Center. “For instance, we had Roberta Garland, TMC ’73, speak to us about what is was like as one of the few female actuaries in the seventies, and how she built on the Jesuit values she learned at Fordham to create her own company.”

In addition to serving as mentors, council members provide philanthropic support to the University and outreach to the University’s top undergraduate applicants.

“You make yourselves available to teach and nurture our graduates and undergraduates,” Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, told the council members. “You have inspired them, made them more confident in themselves. And because of your mentoring, they have grown.”


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