Funeral arrangements are set for Bernard Gilligan, Ph.D., professor emeritus of philosophy, who died on Sunday, Oct. 5. He was 89.

A professor at Fordham since 1947, Gilligan received the Bene Merenti medal from the University for 60 years of service in 2007.

Bernard Gilligan, Ph.D., receives the Bene Merenti medal from Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, in 2007. Photo by Michael Dames

He was born in an apartment on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx very near the Fordham campus, and lived there for most of his life. He was a 1937 graduate of Fordham Prep and received his degree from Fordham College at Rose Hill in 1942.

Gilligan’s career at the University began in 1947, when in his first year of graduate philosophy studies, he was hired to teach English composition and a survey course in English literature to undergraduates at the University’s Manhattan campus.

He later recalled, “So I took a full-time job teaching those courses and, horror of horrors, a course in the writing of business letters where I was just one page ahead of the students.”

He transferred to teach in the philosophy department in 1949, where studies ran the gamut of Scholastic philosophy, including logic, epistemology, cosmology and ontology. In those days, faculty members were required to gain permission from the archbishop before using certain texts in their classes.

“Teachers had to write to Cardinal Spellman, and he would give us permission for three years only to read most of the really good books on philosophy,” he wrote in As I Remember Fordham (Fordham University Press, 1991).

Gilligan remained on the philosophy faculty until his retirement after 40 years, and then began teaching students in the College at Sixty in 1987. He taught his final class this past spring, in his 61st year of service.

“He was the kindest man I ever knew,” said Cira Vernazza, associate dean of Fordham College of Liberal Studies. “He was obviously a great thinker and scholar, but as a person, he himself was modest and gentle—thoroughly decent.”

Vernazza noted that Gilligan had worked with her administratively as a part-time program coordinator, helping to set up guest lectures and arrange class schedules.

“His whole life has been Fordham,” she added.

Arrangements are as follows:

2-4 and 7-9 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 8
Lincoln Park Funeral Home
625 McLean Avenue, Yonkers, N.Y.

10 a.m.
Thursday, Oct. 9
Fordham University Church
Rose Hill Campus, Bronx, N.Y.

“He was one of the first faculty I met when I started here at Fordham,” said Glen Redpath, assistant dean of admission at Fordham College of Liberal Studies. “Bernie was a regular in our office, where he would take a short nap after class before heading home. He will be missed.”