Fickle temps, an occasional thunderstorm, and overcast skies couldn’t keep more than 1,500 Fordham alumni, family, and friends from returning to Rose Hill June 2 to 4 for the annual Jubilee reunion weekend, this year celebrating alumni from class years ending in 3 and 8. From Friday’s Golden Rams Soiree and all-class meetups to Saturday’s picnic, pub party, yoga session, and gala, it was a weekend full of familiar favorites.

Alumni spanning seven decades made it back to campus—some who are frequent visitors, some reunion first-timers, but all eager to reconnect with friends, see how the University has grown over the years, and do their part to give back.

This year’s reunion classes contributed more than $75 million to the University since their last Jubilee, in 2018. All of the money raised supports Cura Personalis | For Every Fordham Student, the University’s $350 million campaign to reinvest in all aspects of the student experience.

A Family Affair

Melissa and Billy Barbour smiling couple
Melissa Barbour, FCRH ’93, and Billy Barbour, FCRH ’93 | Photo by Adam Kaufman

For Anne Mickut Valentino and Christopher Valentino, who met as members of the Fordham College at Rose Hill Class of 1988, this year’s Jubilee was a special one—their first time attending alongside their son Peter Valentino, FCRH ’18. Christopher, an Army lawyer who retired from active duty in 2006, said, “Out of all the people I’ve met around the world, none have the quality and integrity of fellow Fordham graduates.”

Another Fordham couple, who were catching up with friends at the Go Rams! Pub Party under the Jack Coffey Field bleachers Saturday afternoon, said they never met as undergraduates. Instead, Billy and Melissa Barbour, both FCRH ’93, were introduced at their first Jubilee, in 1998, and were engaged the following year.

Now, when Billy finds out a student of his at Easthampton High School on Long Island is attending Fordham, he makes sure to tell them: “Don’t miss your Jubilee. You might meet someone.”

A Culture of Service

Elsewhere on campus, the Class of 1973 gathered in the library to reflect on the ways they’ve dedicated themselves to the greater good—from activism to community service to their careers—and to hear from Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning on the ways in which the University continues to partner with the community and local organizations.

In Butler Commons, members of the Marymount College community recognized the lives and accomplishments of their fellow graduates, honoring four alumnae for their community service and professional success.

Debra DeVenezia, MC ’83, won the Gloria Gaines Memorial Award; Rena Micklewright, MC ’90, won the Golden Dome Award; Sharbari Zohra Ahmed, MC ’95, won the Alumna of Achievement Award; and Linda McMahon, Ph.D., MC ’63, was honored posthumously. 

Camaraderie and Corn Hole

Danielle Flores smiling at Rose Hill
Danielle Flores, FCRH ’13 | Photo by Adam Kaufman

At the all-class picnic held on Martyrs’ Lawn Saturday afternoon—complete with a barbecue, face painting, and games of corn hole—a group of 2013 graduates who were involved with both the Philippine American Club and the Asian Cultural Exchange on campus expressed how important those student clubs were to their college experience.

“It helped me connect with my roots,” said Danielle Flores, FCRH ’13, whose parents immigrated from the Philippines and who double-majored in economics and Spanish language and literature as a member of the Fordham College at Rose Hill Honors Program.

Thinking back to her arrival as a first-year student, Gillian Pantaleon, GABELLI ’13, ’14, echoed Flores’ sentiments on the strong balance of classwork and connection she found at Rose Hill.

“I never knew that … I would have really intellectual conversations in the classroom, learning a lot of lifelong lessons and building a fantastic network here,” she said. “If I could do it all over again, I would.”

Video by Rebecca Rosen

A Tribute to the Trailblazers

At their annual luncheon, a few dozen alumnae of Thomas More College, Fordham’s undergraduate school for women from 1964 to 1974, presented an award to Tania Tetlow, president of the University, and designated her an honorary alumna of the Class of 1968, the college’s first graduating class.

Introducing Fordham’s trailblazing president, who is the first woman and first layperson to lead the Jesuit University of New York, Meredith Waltman, TMC ‘68, noted that the women of TMC are “part of a list of firsts,” too, opening “the door for generations of women afterward to benefit from the rich tradition of a Jesuit” education at Fordham.

“Hereafter, when pictures are taken of the alumni of Thomas More College, she has to be in it,” Waltman said, referring to Tetlow.

Accepting the award, Tetlow admitted to sometimes grappling with a catch-22 of sorts when thinking about the trails blazed by the women of TMC and others like them.

Younger women enjoy a greater degree of freedom but may not fully “understand how hard the fight was to get it to them,” she said. “We are torn between wanting them to be grateful and also wanting to liberate them from any knowledge that it was ever true that people would underestimate them.”

“I don’t know if they will always think of you and remember you, but I will,” she said.

—Adam Kaufman contributed to this story.