His time at Fordham left Paul Ostling, UGE ’70, LAW ’73, with indelible memories: The “electric” atmosphere at Madison Square Garden, where the track and field team competed in the world-renowned Millrose Games for the first time when he was a member. The Fordham Law School dean whose simple gesture gave him a powerful lesson in giving back.

And then there were all the people who inspired and challenged him athletically, like track coaches Ed Kilkelly, Arthur O’Connor, and Jack Brown—to say nothing of Fordham track’s most famous alumnus, two-time Olympic gold medalist Tom Courtney, FCRH ’55.

Courtney enjoyed “a certain degree of royalty” at Fordham, said Ostling, who met him during one of his many visits to campus.

These and other recollections come up as Ostling discusses his recent major gift to Fordham’s track and field and cross country programs in honor of coaches O’Connor and Brown.

By giving, he seeks to help today’s student-athletes have the best possible experience—like he did.

“I thought it was time to try to help make a difference” for them, Ostling said.

A Lesson in Giving

Ostling, who retired as chief operating officer at EY, formerly Ernst & Young, earned his bachelor’s degree from Fordham’s former Undergraduate School of Education before enrolling in Fordham Law School. A longtime generous donor to the school, he is quick to praise all the people who made a mark on his personal and professional growth—from coaches to classmates to colleagues in his legal career.

Those who inspired his philanthropy include a past dean of the law school, Joseph M. McLaughlin, FCRH ’54, LAW ’59, who made a lasting impression with a quick act of generosity. It happened when Ostling was being interviewed by McLaughlin after first arriving at the law school as a recently commissioned military officer, wearing his U.S. Marine Corps uniform.

Expressing concern about Ostling’s ability to pay for a more diverse wardrobe, McLaughlin turned around and wrote him a generous check, only asking that Ostling pay it back when he could.

“I can’t tell you what that meant to me,” Ostling said. “I guess he knew a lot about my financial background and that sort of thing from my application. That moment of him without any need to, or request, turning around and doing that just made a huge [difference].”

He noted that his gift to Fordham track followed Courtney’s death last fall, so in a way it helps continue Courtney’s unstinting support for the program.

“My aspiration is that the young men and women at Fordham who participate in track and cross country have the chance to feel the same experience I felt,” Ostling said. “I had a great academic experience, a great social experience, a great athletic experience at Fordham.”

Athletics fundraising is one of the pillars of Fordham’s $350 million fundraising campaign, Cura Personalis | For Every Fordham Student. Learn more and make a gift. 


Chris Gosier is research news director for Fordham Now. He can be reached at (646) 312-8267 or [email protected].