Fifteen Fordham employees received 1841 Awards in recognition of their long service to the University in a ceremony on Dec. 9 at the Rose Hill campus.

Ihtasham “Sam” Hassan, Fordham’s intercampus loan clerk, received an 1841 Award medal for his 40 years of service to the University. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, handed out the medals. Photos by Bruce Gilbert

“This is a day, more than any other, that carries with it the greatest sense of family,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “Today we celebrate our patron saints and guardian angels—the men and women who quietly make the University work, and make everyone else happy while making everything look easy; on behalf of everyone at the University, thank you for all that you do.”

Collectively, this year’s crop of recipients has logged more than 341 years at Fordham. Like honorees from years past, they were lauded as exemplars of hard work and dedication.

Forty-year-medalist Ihtasham “Sam” Hassan, Fordham’s intercampus loan clerk, has “charged, discharged and renewed thousands of books for generations of Fordham students” at the Duane, Mulcahy and Quinn libraries, according to his award citation.

Hassan emigrated from his native Pakistan many years ago to start a family. Today, he is a father of two young adults and a American citizen “whose loyalty, steadfastness and devotion to Fordham have grown louder and clearer over 40 years,” as noted on the citation.

Ruth Theodore began her career in 1989 in the accounts payable department and now boasts a bachelor’s degree from Fordham in economics and a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education. At the ceremony, Theodore was described as a responsible, dependable employee who is able to tackle all tasks given to her.

Wilhelmina Mitchell, who is affectionately known as “Willie” to the 100 or so employees in the University’s Office of Development and University Relations, was cited for going above and beyond the call of duty as an administrative assistant and researcher.

She is “reliable and fast, often going out of her way to find answers to her colleagues’ questions.” She finds pleasure in her work—even when it’s tedious. When asked to look up a list of names in a database, she later told a supervisor that she enjoyed reading the people’s biographies and learning more about them.

“It’s truly been a pleasure to be a part of Fordham’s growth and prosperity in the 20 years I’ve been here,” said Mitchell, who attended the ceremony despite having recent eye surgery. “I have met some of the nicest people in terms of the alumni and donors. They have made my life here really great. I especially enjoy volunteering to work Jubilee and meeting some of the 50-year alumni, the Golden Rams. They are the most humorous and delightful people to be around.”

Wilhelmina “Willie” Mitchell, an administrative assistant and researcher for the Office of Development and University Relations, received a medal for her 20 years at Fordham.

Mitchell’s children, Randy and Elisa, accompanied their mother to the event. Mitchell lamented that it soon may be time to retire due to health reasons.

“I’m already shedding tears because it has been, truly—and I speak from my heart—one of the best jobs I’ve ever had,” she said.

James C. Finlay, S.J., former president of Fordham, established the 1841 Award in 1982 to honor of the year the University was founded by Archbishop John Hughes.

The following employees were honored at the ceremony, which was held in the Duane Library:

Forty-Year Medalists:
• Barbara Costa, History Department
• Ihtasham Hassan, Quinn Library

Twenty-Year Medalists:
• Jose Arocho, Custodial Services
• Eural Baptiste, Security
• Patricia Byrne, Walsh Library
• Michele Cruz, Fordham College of Liberal Studies
• Ramiza Mamudoska, Custodial Services
• Doretha Marsh, Law School
• Norwood Miler, Facilities Operations
• Wilhelmina Mitchell, Development
• Juana Muniz, Custodial Services
• Stuart Slutzky, Walsh Library
• Ruth Theodore, Controller’s Office
• Ricardo Vilchez, Quinn Library
• Denia Washington, Graduate School of Business Administration

The 15 medalists were honored at a ceremony and reception attended by Father McShane, other administrators, family, friends and Fordham colleagues.

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.