The 2011-2012 academic year was marked by steady progress in the face of challenges,
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, told faculty and administrators during the 14th Annual Faculty Convocation on Sept. 10.

In his State of the University address, Father McShane reported that among Fordham’s achievements is a record-high endowment of $548 million.

“This is the highest that our endowment has ever reached, surpassing the $513 million that it had reached just before the economic downturn,” he said.

A robust endowment, Father McShane explained, is crucial to providing students with financial aid, supporting academic operations, and securing the University’s reputation. In the spirit of reaching ever upward, the University will continue toward its endowment goal of $1 billion, Father McShane said.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., said that the University must work creatively to better position itself in a competitive and increasingly scrutinized higher education market. Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Other capital projects at Fordham have also shown marked growth. Following the successful completion of the $104 million, 460-bed residence hall complex at the Rose Hill campus in 2011, this year’s capital projects carry on the impressive trend. The $38 million renovation of Hughes Hall, the new home of the Gabelli School of Business, finished on time and has opened for the new academic year. Also on schedule is the construction of the new Law School and residence hall at Lincoln Center. The building, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, will cost $250 million when completed, making it the largest capital project in the history of Jesuit education, he said.

Fordham’s capital campaign, Excelsior | Ever Upward | The Campaign for Fordham, exceeded its goal of raising $45 million last year, bringing in $49.5 million for the University. Specific goals within the capital campaign, including scholarship endowments and support for academic programs, also exceeded the prior forecast.

Father McShane, however, remained adamant about boosting other areas of the campaign, such as endowed professorships and capital projects, as well as making sure the campaign overall continues to move upward, calling it his number one priority.

“We will continue our work in these areas and will continue to welcome gifts for the oversubscribed
categories as we make the final push to raise the remaining $50 million,” he said.

Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., provost of the University and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, said the launching of the Bronx Science Consortium will continue to be a priority in the upcoming year. A partnership among Fordham, the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society, Montefiore Medical Center, and the Albert Einstein School of Medicine/Yeshiva University, the consortium will undertake research and education initiatives to address critical scientific and medical issues.

“The recently launched Bronx Science Consortium offers a new model of research, education, and community engagement,” said Freedman. “It brings together five dynamic institutions with deep historical ties to The Bronx and growing collaborative ties to each other. They will work very closely this coming year to develop its enormous potential as a central hub of scientific excellence with local, national, and global impact.”

Commenting on admissions, Father McShane announced that Fordham welcomed its most talented class in the University’s history, and one in which 32 percent of the class came from underrepresented backgrounds. The average SAT/ACT score for the incoming class of 1,849 students is 1264, an 11-point gain over last year. In addition, the class comprises 11 President Scholars, 78 National Merit caliber students, 51 National Merit Scholars, 24 National Hispanic Scholars, three National Achievement Scholars, and one United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts (one of only three recipients in the country). Some 93 percent of its members received some form of financial aid.

Nevertheless, this announcement came with a cautionary note: Intensely shifting demographics and a slow, uneven economic recovery mean that increased competition among colleges, especially in the Northeast, will make next year a challenge.

Moreover, acute media scrutiny on the value of higher education and potential cuts from both the state and federal governments will inevitably have an impact on institutions of higher education.

“We are entering into a more competitive, more financially challenging, and more closely watched period in the coming years,” he said. “Therefore, we will have to be ever more creative in the ways in which we educate our students and go about our work.”

Other Fordham achievements include:

• Several schools rose in last year’s U.S. News & World Report, most notably the Graduate School of Social Service (GSS), which leapt to No. 11 from No. 18. The Law School rose one place to No. 29 and received solid rankings in several of its programs. In addition, BusinessWeek named the Gabelli School of Business the 49th best undergraduate business program in the nation, up from No. 52.

• Last year students won eight Fulbright awards, four Boren awards, three National Science Foundation fellowships, two NYC Urban Fellowships, and one Lilly Fellowship for Graduate Study.

• Faculty grant activity and publications boast impressive numbers. Fordham faculty carry $51 million in multi-year grant funding, up 52 percent in five years. Across the schools, faculty members published 203 books and 304 articles, and made 1,168 presentations at scholarly conferences.