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Remembering University Provost Stephen Freedman


Join Us September 6 for a Service of Remembrance

On July 2, 2018, Fordham University lost an innovative leader, committed educator, esteemed colleague, and beloved friend when University Provost Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., died suddenly. Read Dr. Freedman’s full obituary.

A service of remembrance for Dr. Stephen Freedman will take place on Thursday, September 6, at 1 p.m., in the University Church.

A live stream of the service will also be simulcast at the following locations:

  • McNally Amphitheatre, Lincoln Center Campus
  • Room 230, Westchester Campus
  • Room B-01, London Centre

The service will be followed by receptions at all four locations.

Official Day of Mourning: September 6, 2018

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that September 6, 2018, the day of the memorial service for Stephen Freedman, be declared an official day of mourning for Fordham University.

-Fordham University Board of Trustees, July 17, 2018
Read the full resolution.

The world became a better place the day Stephen Freedman was born, and his death is a painful loss not just for his family and Fordham friends but for everyone who knew him. He brought joy to our lives because he saw the joy in life.

A profoundly spiritual man with a passion for the complementary perspectives of science and religion, Stephen spent his life striving to become a whole person. His love for God and passion for humanity continue to inspire us to strive for wholeness personally, interpersonally, and as a community.


  1. Dr. Freedman was a true demonstration of what it means to serve others “men and women for each other”. He saw the person and looked beyond the titles, suits and ties, wanting to make you feel appreciated, cared for and loved. I met Dr. Freedman seven years ago while at Fordham, he would routinely visit the Lombardi Gym to work out but always taking the time to share a smile and relay his many stories about his trips abroad. Through his stories I captured the beautiful scenes, people and their culture and how he enjoyed being apart of their experiences and life. With that said, the Fordham Vision and Mission would come alive through him and it encouraged me to continue to believe that great things are yet to be discovered and yes we all can make a difference. Thanks to his family for sharing with us the Fordham Community a wonderful soul. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

  2. I feel very lucky to have been able to call Stephen Freedman a friend. His kindness to me personally as a professor who came to teaching later in life after a career in journalism and his steadfast support of The Fordham Ram newspaper, for which I serve as advisor, mean the world to me. Those who spoke about Stephen at the memorial service did a great job of capturing his many wonderful qualities, and I urge those who knew Stephen and did not have a chance to attend the ceremony to watch it on video.

    The job of being the provost of a large university like Fordham is nearly impossible, but Stephen did it with passion and compassion. He made Fordham better and he made those of us at Fordham better. Simply put, he was a mensch. I will miss him always.

  3. Salvador D. Aceves on

    Stephen’s boundless energy and generous heart will continue to be a blessing to those of us who were fortunate to know him as a colleague and a friend.

  4. Beautiful service. Thank you Rabbi Smith for guiding us through the service and to you, Interim Provost Crystal, and others who provided remembrances and reflections. My deepest sympathy to Dr. Freedman’s family. Ha’makom yenahem etkhem betokh she’ar avelei Tziyonvi’Yerushalayim.

  5. I had the privilege of going on safari with Dr Freedman last spring in South Africa. He had come to see our group of 11 Fordham students during our studies at the University of Pretoria. We rode together into Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest game reserves. While there, we spent the next three days going on game drives, embarking on bush walks, and laying on the ground of the reserve taking in the clear night sky. Dr Freedman was our guide for the weekend, teaching us how to appreciate, learn from, and enjoy the natural beauty surrounding us.
    I will never forget the lecture Dr Freedman gave in Kruger on evolutionary biology and the diversity of life. Mid-lecture, a herd of elephants, a pack of warthogs, and a flock of egrets all waltzed across the backyard of our outdoor classroom. In that amazing moment, he challenged us students to see ourselves in the wildlife around us. He wanted us to notice the interconnectivity of humans and animals. Dr Freedman insisted we watch the interactions of the animals in groups to see just how social they are.  I remember Dr Freedman took particular interest in the elephants. He asked us to notice the similarities between how humans interact with each other and how the elephants were interacting in front of us. Previously, I thought of being social as a human trait, but I learned to realize how untrue this is. Elephants are fiercely protective of their calves who are rarely far from their side, and the process of play among young elephants is just as important as it is to young humans.   I knew Dr Freedman for only a short amount of time. But the impact he has had on my worldview will last forever, and I am immensely grateful to have had such an influential and special person in my life.

  6. Timothy Law Snyder on

    Stephen was and remains a perpetual gift to the CAOs, and the faculty and students, of our Jesuit institutions. He welcomed each of us with an open heart, mind, and ear. He helped us reach prudent decisions, at times amidst an environment replete with competing passions. He made each of us stronger, no matter what our career stage, no matter what our challenges. He reminded us, through example, that no moment was without beauty; that every moment was replete with joy; and that our work, strengthened through collaboration, was, like him, honorable, generous, and, yes, a gift. Blessings, dear friend!

  7. Deanna Howes Spiro on

    After Stephen’s passing, members of the AJCU Chief Academic Officers Conference shared their memories, which were assembled into a tribute page for the AJCU website: He will be greatly missed by the conference, as well as all of us at the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

  8. Stephanie Russell on

    Stephen’s gift for making everyone he met feel valued and cared for is an enduring lesson for me. His heart and intellect were never far from each other, and his commitment to Jesuit education – over years and in many places – was inspiring. Like so many people, I admired his leadership in both large projects small gestures. His life is a blessing, and I am grateful to have known him as a colleague and friend.

  9. I will cherish the moments we had together: our walks through the Old City Jerusalem; our visits to both Jewish and Christian sacred sites, Qumran, Capernaum/Kfar Nahum, and long conversations about history, religion, culture, education, Jewish Studies, and Fordham. Stephen had the rare gift of connecting with others meaningfully, touching people deeply–within a very short time one felt as if one knew him all life long. The world is less full without him.

  10. Fredric Nachbaur on

    Stephen was a strong supporter of Fordham University Press and pushed me to think strategically about its growth and success. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to work with him for nine years. When my office was on the Rose Hill campus, I’d occasionally see him at the Lombardi Center. He’d be on the elliptical machine with phone in hand, always working. He will be missed.

  11. John Cecero, S,J, on

    I was blessed to know Stephen and benefit from his contagious enthusiasm for Jesuit education and unwavering support for me personally and for the Society of Jesus and our works nationally and globally. He was a transformative leader, a cherished mentor, and a beloved friend, and I will always be immensely grateful for knowing him.

  12. Stephen challenged himself and those with whom he worked to go above and beyond in accomplishing every task. He was very caring, thoughtful, and generous with his time. I will always cherish our years together in the Office of the Provost and am grateful to have had such a special person in my life.