The College of Business Administration (CBA) officially joined the University’s capital campaign on Sept. 25 with the announcement of the largest gift in Fordham history.

A $25 million gift from alumnus Mario J. Gabelli was celebrated at a lavish brunch next to Hughes Hall, the 50,000-square-foot dormitory that will be transformed into a cutting-edge home for CBA, now named the Gabelli School of Business (GSB).

Gabelli, GSB ’65, who appeared via video for the Homecoming ceremony, called education a key driver of job creation, which is the primary priority for the United States.

“What underscores our country is meritocracy, the rule of law and the free market system, and one of the underpinnings of meritocracy is education. One of the things I want to do is continue this process of meritocracy,” he said.

“Education is the great leveler, and for us to have Fordham at the forefront of this requires faculty, facilities, financing, fabulous students and an intense competitive environment.”

His gift brings to $43 million the amount that the Gabelli School has raised as part of Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham. The school’s $60 million campaign includes:

• $30 million for the renovation of Hughes Hall;
• $15 million to create endowed faculty chairs in accounting and taxation, communications and media management, entrepreneurship, ethics, global financial markets, information systems, management systems and marketing;
• $7.5 million for endowed scholarships; and
• $7.5 million for academic initiatives.

Donna Rapaccioli, GSB ’83, dean of the Gabelli School and the Fordham business faculty, noted that in its 90 year-existence, the school has been a nomad, shuttling between 10 different locations. A state-of-the-art, centralized home will enable it to build on its success and create a place for it at the global table of business.

“By using a unique approach that couples liberal arts education and business education—an approach that provides distinctively global views and emphasizes students’ personal and professional development—the Gabelli School represents the future of business education,” she said.

Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., provost of the University, noted that the physical transformation of Hughes Hall—built in 1891 and named for Fordham’s founder Archbishop John Hughes—is being paired with transformational academic initiatives.

“The goal is to propel the school to a premier position as an institution known for educating ethical business leaders who succeed in a range of leadership roles and thrive in a global economy,” he said.

“Encouraging our students to challenge their intellect and deepen their knowledge and skills is a foremost priority at Fordham,” Freedman continued. “We strive to achieve this goal through a diverse faculty of scholars and practitioners and curricula designed to inspire creativity, curiosity and lifelong learning.

“Steeped in the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, a Fordham education challenges students to achieve even greater personal growth in all aspects of their lives— intellectual, moral, social and physical.”

Continuing the theme of transformation, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, said that Gabelli’s gift forever altered how the public views Fordham, and that it will help transform the way Fordham teaches students.

“Mario traces the formation of his character to the education that he received here at Rose Hill. A very grateful son of the Bronx now wishes to give back to the institution that formed him for life and formed him for success,” he said.

“It will transform the way our faculty educate our students—students who will emerge as business leaders with a difference. Business leaders whose lives are marked by confidence, conscience, compassion and deep commitment to the cause of the human family.”

At the end of the ceremony, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham, center, lead some of the newest members of the Gabelli School of Business through a rousing rendition of Fordham’s fight song, “The Ram.” Photo By Chris Taggart

Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.