James J. Houlihan (CBA ’74) speaks to CBA students after his breakfast lecture on March 26.  Photo by Gina Vergel
James J. Houlihan (CBA ’74) speaks to CBA students after his breakfast lecture on March 26.
Photo by Gina Vergel

Commercial real estate veteran James J. Houlihan (CBA ’74) shared his thoughts on the nation’s economic woes during a breakfast lecture with Fordham business students.

“This climate has been catastrophic for many businesses across the United States. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Houlihan, partner at Houlihan-Parnes/iCap Realty Advisors LLC and a member of the University’s President’s Council. “The vaporization of net wealth is almost unimaginable. It’s a tremendous shock to everyone’s systems.”

The Bronx native didn’t paint a rosy picture for the roughly 20 students from the College of Business Administration who attended his presentation on March 26 at the William D. Walsh Family Library.

“This is a very bad situation,” Houlihan said. “I apologize if that doesn’t give you consolation or comfort. You have to hang in there and do what you can to make it through these tough times.”

Houlihan has served since 1987 as partner of the family business that was founded by his great-grandfather. He is the benefactor of Houlihan Park at Jack Coffey Field on the Rose Hill campus.

“Businesses need to access credit lines to function, and the credit market is totally seized up,” he said. “While one arm of the government is saying, ‘Make credit available,’ you have the banking auditors saying the opposite. This is definitely a challenge.”

Despite the dire circumstances in commercial real estate, Houlihan, who played baseball while at Fordham, offered a wealth of advice.

“You still have to come in every day and apply yourself,” he said. “Something I learned from having to manage sports, schoolwork, work and volunteering is that you always have more time than you think. I urge you to consider that.”

He said students should note that the world is changing at lightning speed.

“Change is the one thing you should count on,” he said. “Your life will always be changing, so you must be careful not to lock yourself in. Throughout my career, whenever people asked me about a five-year plan, my answer was always, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five minutes, much less five years.’”


Gina Vergel is Senior Director of Communications. She oversees the digital news coverage, public relations, and social media for the university. Before joining Fordham in 2007, Gina worked as a reporter for the Home News Tribune, and The Ridgewood News, where she won Society of Professional Journalist (New Jersey chapter) awards for breaking news and feature writing, respectively. She can be reached at [email protected] or (646) 579-9957.