Fordham Appoints New Assistant Dean of First Year Students


Courtesy of AJCU

Conor O’Kane will be starting his new role as assistant dean of first year students in 2020.


Conor O’Kane, the former Director of Campus Ministry was appointed as assistant dean of first-year students. Laura Auricchio, dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), announced O’Kane’s appointment on Dec. 17. 

O’Kane has been a member of the Fordham community since 2012 when he began working worked in the Office of Campus Ministry at Rose Hill. He also earned an international diploma in humanitarian assistance from the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham. 

“Conor comes to us with a deep and nuanced understanding of the mission, culture, and people of Fordham and is excited to support and enhance the academic lives of our students,” said Auricchio in her email. 

O’Kane has a B.A. in theology and theater, as well as an M.A. in pastoral theology from Boston College. Since 2017, he has served as a resident minister, living with his wife and two children in McMahon Residential Hall. 

O’Kane compared the responsibilities of assistant dean for first year students with his past experience as director of campus ministry. “My work in campus ministry has very much been to promote student flourishing,” O’Kane said. 

“My work in the dean’s office will be to promote student flourishing, just perhaps in a different context and with a different set of tools specifically geared in the dean’s office towards our intellectual life,” he continued. 

O’Kane also referenced the Jesuit tenet of “cura personalis” — care for the whole person — as an important feature of each position. “Whether it’s kind of the life of the mind or what we call the ‘inner life’ in campus ministry, they’re definitely connected,” O’Kane said. “I think campus ministry has perhaps been more focused on the university experience than how that connects with our intellectual life, and so they’re different parts of the same whole,” he continued.

O’Kane will be replacing former Assistant Dean of First Year Students Joseph Desciak, who held the position since 2013. Desciak left Fordham in August 2019 for a position at Boston College .

“I had the privilege of working with Dean Desciak on a couple of different programs and projects,” O’Kane said. “I think, with all the previous deans who’ve held that position, they’ve set a very high bar for excellence and for supporting students, which is something I want to continue.”

One of O’Kane’s duties as assistant dean to first year students will be to determine the core curriculum for incoming Fordham students. 

“As part of registration, often my conversations are, ‘What are things that speak to you?’ ‘What are the things that you find that you’re interested in learning more about?’ … The goal is making sure that students are registered and on track to fulfill courses and credit hours, but to do that in a way that’s connected to everything else that they do.” 

According to O’Kane, Erin Hoffman will be supplementing his role as director of campus ministry until a replacement is found. “I’m not sure of how the process that’s going to take place,” O’Kane said in regard to how his successor will be chosen. “I do know that the important work that campus ministry does will continue.”

Mica McKnight, assistant dean for sophomores, chaired the search committee alongside the FCLC and Fordham College at Rose Hill Dean’s Offices to identify the new dean. O’Kane will begin his appointment in January 2020 for the start of the Spring Semester.