Members of the Class of 1973 traveled from near and far to celebrate their Golden Jubilee at Rose Hill on June 2, exactly 50 years after their Fordham graduation day. For H. Joseph McMaster, FCRH ’73, that meant coming back to the Bronx from Beirut.

McMaster, whose maternal ancestors are from Lebanon, said curiosity brought him to the country a few years after he graduated, and he stayed, teaching English at several universities. Living abroad was a huge part of his undergraduate experience at Fordham. With encouragement from George McMahon, S.J., then dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, he spent his junior year studying in Paris.

A man stands
H. Joseph McMaster

“It was very unusual because I was the only one—there were no junior year abroad programs to speak of,” he said, laughing. “Basically it was a do-it-yourself program—you went to France, you registered in a French university, you passed the exams.”

McMaster said that one of the best parts was that he didn’t pay tuition because the French government at the time was covering the cost of higher education for all students enrolled in French universities, and Fordham accepted the credits he earned.

Staying Connected to Fordham

For others, the annual Golden Rams Dinner and Soiree— which honored alumni celebrating 50 or more years since their Fordham graduation and included a cocktail hour and dancing—was just another way to stay connected.

“I never left,” said Stan Pruszynski, FCRH ’73, with a laugh. He was there with his friend Richard Angelico, FCRH ’73, and the two performed a cappella at the dinner with other alumni of the Glee Club (now known as the Ramblers), one of the oldest student groups at Fordham. “The Glee Club has a very strong camaraderie—we have reunions. We have dinners with the Ramblers every year, we go to their concerts, so the connection’s never gone.”

Stan Pruszynski, FCRH ’73, and Richard Angelico, FCRH ’73

Fordham also helped Rocco Staino, FCRH ’73, and Ann Petelka Picard, TMC ’73, develop a lifelong friendship.

“We’ve kept in contact for 54-odd years,” said Staino, a former editor of The Fordham Ram.

“We met on the open field there,” Picard said, smiling while referring to Edwards Parade. She said she was meeting her friend John, who worked with Staino on the newspaper, when the two were introduced.

Staino joked that he couldn’t believe it was his 50th reunion. “I hosted the 55th anniversary of The Ram [in 1973], and we invited all the alumni back, and I remember how old all those guys were,” he said laughing. “It’s nice to see how the Fordham tradition continues.”

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Rocco Staino, FCRH ’73, and Ann Petelka Picard, TMC ’73

‘Not a Time of Normalcy’

Many of Fordham’s newest Golden Rams noted that the years they spent at the University were some of the most turbulent in the nation’s history. They recalled the protests against the Vietnam War, which nearly resulted in the cancellation of finals in 1970, and described taking part in the first Earth Day celebrations that spring, at the dawn of the modern environmental movement.

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Lauckland Nicholas, PCS ’73

“My freshman year, I was coming from a very small town in rural Maryland, so New York City was a big experience for an 18-year-old,” McMaster said. “The year that we came in, ’69–’70, was not a time of normalcy.”

It was also a changing time on campus, as more students of color joined the University, something Lauckland Nicholas, PCS ’73, reflected on while looking at photos he brought from his graduation.

“When I came to Fordham, there were very few Blacks and minorities on campus,” said Nicholas, who is now a lawyer in Washington D.C. But he said that Fordham had a very welcoming community. “I never felt out of place—I was here to receive an education and I did that.”

As she presented the 1973 grads with their Golden Ram medals, Fordham President Tania Tetlow reflected on the “tumultuous, momentous” years in which they studied at the University, a time that included not only the Vietnam War but also the shooting at Kent State and the Watergate hearings. Despite all of the pressures and challenges facing the class, she said, they went on to do remarkable things.

“What you’ve achieved in the last 50 years takes my breath away,” she said to applause. “You broke down doors that were still closed to people like us on Wall Street, in major law firms. Some of you founded nonprofits and reimagined American society, some of you taught fourth graders for 50 years.

“You’ve reminded us of how much Fordham has mattered to your lives … and you’ve expressed your love of this beautiful University and continue to invest in us.”

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Lauckland Nicholas brought back photos from the Class of 1973 graduation

See more of our Jubilee weekend coverage