Fordham University marked the launch of its Consortium on Social Justice and Poverty on Sept. 22 with a discussion at its Lincoln Center campus on how the global downturn affects the world’s poor.

Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., senior vice president/chief academic officer for Fordham University. Photos by Bruce Gilbert

The kick-off event, which included a panel of economists and scholars, celebrated the links that will be formed between the University and institutions within and beyond New York City.

The intra-University effort unites faculty, students, administrators and staff in support of educational programs and service initiatives aimed at social justice and poverty issues. It will promote interdisciplinary scholarship and service opportunities within the Fordham community.

Sponsored by 19 University offices, organizations and student groups that are familiar with social justice and poverty issues, the consortium is the result of nearly two years of planning, said Stephen Freedman, Ph.D., senior vice president/chief academic officer for Fordham.

“Together we gather as a community of faculty, students, staff and administrators to seek ways and opportunities to live out one of the central tenets of Jesuit education,” Freedman said. “As the chief academic officer at Fordham, I know the importance of academic rigor and academic integrity as being the key central component of Jesuit education, but in my talks with students, faculty and staff this year and last, I stressed the social justice component.

“Leading lives of service to others is a key component of what we do at Fordham University and throughout Jesuit higher education.”

Freedman urged the faculty to bring aspects of research and teaching to bear on the issues of injustice. He asked staff and students to share news about the consortium with friends.

Robert J. Reilly, assistant dean for the Feerick Center for Social Justice at the Fordham School of Law and member of the Consortium’s steering committee, said the Consortium provides “increased communication and better cooperation.”

“There’s so much good work going on at Fordham, and this is a way for our faculty, staff, students and administrators to find out about the work that is being done, find each other and even work together,” he added.

A key component of the consortium’s effort is its—which will act as a key database and search engine for experts, programs, events, volunteer opportunities and other Fordham resources related to social justice and poverty issues.

“The search engine is very comprehensive and useful. Not only does it connect one to the database of information, but it connects people to each other,” said Catherine Beuscher, coordinator for academic projects and processes, and a key player behind the creation of the site. “We urge everyone to join the consortium’s website because participation will make the website a robust tool.”

Dale Lindquist, D.Min., visiting clinical professor and managing director of the Bertram Beck Institute of Religion and Poverty at Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service, sat on the steering committee that made the consortium a reality.

“The website is the perfect way to bring together all the people in the University who are interested in poverty,” Lindquist said. “It connects us not just to the issue of poverty, however, but to the issue of community.”

Members of the Consortium’s steering committee included, from left, Dale Lindquist, Robert J. Reilly, Dora Galacatos, Donna Rapaccioli, Catherine Buescher and Darrly McLeod.

A key part of the consortium’s launch year is its 2009-2010 service initiative, which will undoubtedly make an impression on the community.

Dora Galacatos, senior counsel at the Feerick Center, unveiled a plan to mentor young people who are aging out of foster care.

“This group is at a particularly high risk for homelessness and many negative outcomes once they become emancipated,” Galacatos said. “Mentorship is one intervention that has been shown in studies to make a difference and help young people better stabilize their lives and maintain independent living.”

The consortium has partnered with Good Shepherd, a Bronx-based youth development, education and family service agency. Volunteers will serveas group mentors who provide fellowship, friendship and hope.

“The entire effort will take only 16 hours from beginning to end, including training,” Galacatos said. “The Bronx has long been identified as the borough of highest need. It’s the place in the city where the largest number of young people are who want a mentor and don’t have one. As a first step, we’re so pleased to announce this pilot effort.”


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.