Father McShane Delivers State of the University Address


Published: April 9, 2009

On April 1, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, gave his State of the University address in the Flom Auditorium at the Rose Hill campus. McShane discussed admissions trends and announced a fundraising campaign through which he hopes to raise $500 million within the next five years to improve Fordham’s facilities, faculty, specialized programs and financial aid.

Because of the increase in enrollment, McShane said that, once Fordham has raised the $500 million, $170 million will be put towards facilities improvements on both campuses, $100 million of which will be used to build what McShane called an “accommodation building” for Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC).

The “accommodation building,” according to McShane, will be 20 stories tall; the top 10 stories will be used for undergraduate housing, and the bottom 10 stories will be used for new law school facilities. He noted that design firm Pei Cobb Freed—headed by I.M. Pei, who designed the Louvre Pyramid—will design the building.

McShane said that the law school “is the target school that sheds a light on everything we do. If you’re outside the metropolitan New York City area, the school that is most famous is the law school. To the degree that the law school increases in stature, your degree, even as an undergraduate, is enhanced.”

Aside from the money for new facilities, McShane said that $150 million will be put towards “academic excellence,” which will consist of $70 million for undergrad merit-based scholarships, and $80 million for professorship endowments, with the aim of attracting “excellent faculty who are committed to the particular mission of Jesuit principles.”

In addition, McShane stated that $100 million will be used to enhance specialized programs, such as the honors college, and $80 million will be set aside as what McShane called “annual fund money,” which he said is “unrestricted money” to be used at the discretion of the administration.

McShane said that he is confident that Fordham will be able to reach the goal of $500 million and that the school has already managed to raise $266 million from private donations.

McShane also commented on next year’s incoming freshman class. According to McShane, Fordham’s student population is “increasing in size and quality” and diversifying in “geographical origin.”

“For years, I’ve been saying the same thing [at freshman orientation]: ‘Welcome to Fordham, you are the most talented class we’ve had in 160 or so years, and enjoy it, because next year I’ll be saying the same thing,” McShane said.

McShane said that while other Jesuit universities have seen a decrease in applications, the number of students applying to Fordham is growing. According to McShane, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) received over 25,000 applications and expects an incoming freshman class of 1,750. These numbers, he said, are up from 4,800 applications and an incoming class of 941 20 years ago, and the numbers have been rising ever since.

In addition to an increase in size, McShane said that average SAT scores have risen 10 points and there are more national merit scholars applying to Fordham than ever.

Fordham is also becoming morewell-known nationwide. He said that while 26 percent of Fordham students are from New York and 14 percent are from New Jersey,  he was surprised to find that Fordham’s third largest feeder state is California.

His speech was well received by those present at the address.

“I’m very impressed that he’s raising all this money. He can do this with a passion because he believes in the University. Whatever he’s doing, something’s connecting if people are still giving him money,” said Jason Appelgate, FCLC ’11.

Dan Doyle, FCRH ’11, said, “Fordham’s reputation at this point is superseding its facilities, so these new facilities will definitely solidify Fordham’s place as one of the greatest schools.”