The Fordham community gathered on Manhattan’s West Side on March 18 to celebrate the University’s accomplished student scholars and those who make it possible for them to dream.

The annual Fordham Founder’s Dinner, held at the Glasshouse, raised $2.5 million for the Fordham Founder’s Undergraduate Scholarship Fund, which supports scholarships for 48 Fordham Founder’s Scholars.

The University also paid tribute to this year’s Fordham Founder’s Award recipients: John L. Lumelleau, FCRH ’74, and Loretta Franklin Lumelleau, and Robert “Bob” J. O’Shea, GABELLI ’87, PAR, and Michele K. O’Shea, FCRH ’88, PAR.

With a theme of “Transforming Our World,” the dinner was a cause for multiple celebrations, said Fordham President Tania Tetlow.

“We celebrate the gift of Fordham and all that she has meant to us. We celebrate our beloved community, friendships new and old, the family we have chosen and built together,” she said to the event’s 900 guests.

“And we celebrate the deep joy of giving back. We look at the shining faces of the student scholars here tonight, all dressed up in their finest, full of talent and possibility, full of hope. We celebrate the enormous pleasure we receive from helping them.”

(Watch Tetlow’s speech here.)

A Life Transformed by Generosity

Benjamin Coco speaking at the podium
Benjamin Coco, a senior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, thanked donors on behalf of his fellow Founder’s Scholars.

Benjamin Coco, a Fordham College at Rose Hill senior majoring in English and physics, spoke on behalf of all the Founder’s Scholars. He told attendees that their support had allowed him to pursue his love for both the sciences and creative writing. That includes writing his debut novel, Johnny Outlaw: The Man With No Past.

“I’m searching for an agent to be published—in case there are any in the audience,” he said to laughs.

Coco said his Founder’s scholarship enabled him to conduct summer research at Notre Dame University. This May, he’ll finish a senior thesis, “Emission Spectroscopy of Red Giant Stars.”

“My mom moved to the U.S. from Grenada when she was 15 and has worked hard ever since, always emphasizing the importance of education,” he said, noting that Fordham’s Jesuit ideals called to him.

“All Founder’s Scholars have had our lives changed by your generosity and have been given the opportunity to thrive to the best of our abilities. From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of this year’s Founder’s Scholars, thank you!”

(Watch Coco’s speech here.)

Abby Joy Nguyen dancing on stage
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Ailey/Fordham BFA program, Founder’s Scholar and Fordham College at Lincoln Center senior Abby Joy Nguyen performed for the audience. Watch Nguyen’s performance here.

Lessons from a Daily Commute

The evening also featured a new emcee: Lauren Scala, FCRH ’04.

A four-time Emmy Award-winning television host, reporter, and producer at NBC 4 in New York, Scala joked that her time riding the Ram Van actually helped her career as a traffic anchor for 10 years.

“So whoever saw me in the morning, it was Fordham I have to thank for being able to authentically report on the Cross Bronx Expressway,” she said. “And I still smile when I see a Ram Van in the wild.”

Always Making a Difference

Armando Nunez, Tania Tetlow, John Lumelleau and Loretta Lumelleau,
Armando Nuñez, Fordham’s board chair, introduced John and Loretta Lumelleau, right.

Fordham also changed the life of Founder’s honoree John Lumelleau, a retired president and CEO of the insurance brokerage Lockton Companies who has served on the University’s Board of Trustees since 2018. His wife, Loretta Lumelleau, a graduate of Lehman College, worked in publishing and taught in New York City schools before retiring to raise the couple’s three children.

Over the past decades, they have contributed generously to Fordham as well as a range of other causes that help young people thrive. Their giving has benefited Fordham’s football program and other athletics programs, as well as the Student Emergency Fund.

Lumelleau noted that the family’s ties to Fordham run deep, as his brother Richard, FCRH ’64, sisters Cathleen Marasco, FCRH ’82, and Jeanette Kavanagh, FCRH ’79, and his niece, Elizabeth Casey, FCRH ’98, GSE ’05, attended Fordham.

The excellence and tradition that are the “essence” of Fordham have, in fact, lived in his mind since childhood. His earliest memories of music, he said, were the “The Star Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America,” and Fordham’s fight song “The Ram,” which Richard would lead while his uncle “banged it out on the piano.”

“It feels as if Fordham has always been present, always been making a difference. This evening is a critical part of making sure that it is.”

(Watch Lumelleau’s speech here.)

In a video that was shown during the dinner, Founder’s Scholars shared what scholarships meant to them.

The Value of Giving Back

Bob and Michele O’Shea gave a special thanks to Michael Gatto, director of the O’Shea Center for Credit Analysis and Investment, and encouraged everyone to read Gatto’s book, The Credit Investor’s Handbook.

Bob and Michele O’Shea are co-founding benefactors of the O’Shea Center for Credit Analysis and Investment, which launched at the Gabelli School of Business in 2022.

Bob, who was a member of Fordham’s Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2012, is a former partner at Goldman Sachs and the current chairman of the global investment firm Silver Point Capital. Michele is the founder of O’Shea Yoga, as well as a professional life coach who leads workshops on personal empowerment for women. Three of the couple’s four children have graduated from Fordham.

The O’Sheas have given to philanthropic organizations in the U.S. and abroad that support education, health, veterans, public safety, and the alleviation of poverty. At Fordham, they have contributed to scholarships, career services, track and field, and other athletics programs.

Bob tied the importance of giving back to his own Fordham story. He attended thanks to a scholarship offered to him by former track and field coach Tom Dewey, who was in attendance, and four seniors on the team made room for “a twerpy freshman” to move onto campus with them.

“Almost all seniors would never even entertain the idea of accepting an incoming freshman as their roommate—talk about being ‘men in the service of these others,’” he said.

“Michele and I have had a blessed life, and to be standing in front of all of you—we are filled with gratitude and love.”

(Watch O’Shea’s speech here.)

Learn more about the Fordham Founder’s Undergraduate Scholarship Fund.

Guests were treated to a performance by the Fordham University Choir.


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.