Fordham Notes: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fordham Hosts Seventh Annual AJCU Conference

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) held its seventh annual honors conference at Rose Hill on Feb. 17th and 18th.

The two-day conference drew participants from thirteen schools, 37 out of the 54 attendees being from other universities such as Boston College, Loyola University New Orleans, and Rockhurst University.

In its seventh year, the AJCU honors conference has continued to foster meaningful discussions and emphasize the Ignatian identity amongst members of the honors program in a Jesuit community.

“We have forged a number of important relationships with wonderful colleagues and fellow students who share a similar vision of the intellectual life in the service of Ignatian ideals,” said Harry Nasuti, Ph.D., (pictured above) professor of theology and director of the Honors Program at Fordham College at Rose Hill.

The honors conference is a major outlet for the exchange of ideas, presentations, challenges, and goals for the integration of honors programs with Jesuit principles, said Kevin McKenna, administrator of the honors program at Rose Hill.

“It’s great to learn what other Jesuit honors programs have done and how they do things differently from us,” he said. “We get to see the many ways of approaching a task.”

In a problem-solving session on Feb. 17, participants divided up into three groups, each of which discussed different issues regarding advising, mentoring, admission, and retention in the honors programs.

“It was interesting to hear the struggles and successes of the different participating institutions from the perspectives of both the directors and students,” said Gloria Larson, a sophomore honors student at Creighton University.

Other panels were tailored to specific concerns such as new technology, strengthening the honors thesis, and incorporating the Jesuit mission into the program.

The Fordham honors curriculum focuses on an integrated study in art, history, literature, music, philosophy and religion in the freshman and sophomore years. Subsequent classes focus on a social or ethical issues in the modern world, and the senior thesis is the culmination of the student’s work.

For Xavier Montecel, FCRH ’12, the Fordham honors curriculum has helped him to define his future after Fordham.

“Through my experiences in the classroom and with Dr. Nasuti, I came to a deep understanding of the Ignatian educational vision,” said Montecel.

McKenna added that honors students are also exposed to being men and women for others.

“We have a strong tradition of service within the program, and connect our students with service opportunities in the Bronx community,” he said.

The first annual AJCU honors conference was held in February 2006 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Since then, conferences have been held at Regis University, Santa Clara University, Marquette University, Rockhurst University and twice at Fordham.

“Our hosting it again this year was a great opportunity to bring people back to share ideas and topics,” said McKenna.

Added Nasuti: “This is a community where we listen to each other, learn from each other, care for each other, and grow together.” (photo by Tom Stoelker)

--Angie Chen

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Philosophy Conference Scrutinizes Ethical Theories

Graduate students and scholars from around the world convened at Fordham on Feb. 24 and 25 for the Fordham Philosophical Society’s fifth biennial international graduate conference.

Michael Baur, Ph.D., presents, "The Truth about Rights."
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Hosted by Fordham’s Department of Philosophy, “The Truth of Ethics” attracted attendees from as far as Amiens, France to present at the two-day conference.

Delivering the conference’s plenary lecture, “The Truth about Rights,” Associate Professor of Philosophy Michael Baur, Ph.D., argued for the utilitarian notion that rights are meaningful only within social contexts. Rights do not exist in a vacuum, he said, but rather exist because there are individuals who live in community as equals, and who are entitled to certain things.

“To possess a right… is not to possess a power or liberty or natural property, such as the property of having earlobes or kneecaps, that one would possess apart from any relation to others. Rather, to possess a right is to occupy a place within an order of justice, according to which two or more individuals are related to one another as equals in some relevant aspect,” Baur said.

He pointed out, however, that utilitarians also argue that rights are not guaranteed.

“Even if there is such a thing as ‘rights,’ these utilitarians argue, such rights—including even the ‘right to life’—are necessarily relational, and thus have meaning only within the context of a larger social whole,” Baur said. “As a result, the argument goes, the supposed ‘rights’ possessed by individual human beings are never inviolable or unconditional, but instead are always negotiable and subject to being ‘traded away’ for the sake of greater social utility.”

However, he said, the premise that rights are relational does not necessarily mean that rights are therefore negotiable. A social community might take away a certain good if there is an urgent reason to do so, but the individual’s right to that good still remains, he said.

For example, if members of the criminal justice system take away a convicted criminal’s freedom, it does not mean that the criminal justice system has the ability to take away the overall right to freedom.

The conference keynote lecture was delivered by Stephen Darwall, Ph.D., the Andrew Downey Orrick Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and the John Dewey Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Michigan.

Darwall’s lecture, “Morality’s Distinctiveness,” challenged participants to think critically about the concept of “morality,” which often is used interchangeably with the term “ethics.”

“We can use ‘moral’ and ‘morality’ in any way we like, but though the terms are sometimes used broadly as synonyms for ‘ethical’ and ‘ethics,’ the sense I have in mind here is… morality’s ‘narrow sense,’” he said.

According to Darwall, the concept of morality has been in contention for millennia. In the end, though, our modern concept of morality has ultimately become juridical. Specifically, we largely view the concept as involving a strong connection between our moral obligations and being accountable to these obligations.

In addition to the Department of Philosophy, the conference was sponsored by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate Student Association, the Fordham Philosophical Society, the Office of the Provost, the International Philosophical Quarterly, and the Center for Ethics Education.

--Joanna Klimaski

Thursday, February 23, 2012

GBA Global Manager Conference Kicks off in India

Fordham’s Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA) kicks off the first of a two-part conference, “The Future Global Manager” on Saturday, Feb. 25 in Bhubaneswar, India.

The day-long conference, which will continue in New York City on May 16, is hosted by the GBA and the Three Continent Masters of Global Management (3CMGM) program. GBA Dean David Gautschi, Ph.D., and Sertan Kabadayi, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, will attend.

The 12-month long 3CMGM program partners Fordham with the Antwerp Management School in Belgium and the Xavier Institute of Management in Bhubaneswar, and is designed to prepare high-potential recent university graduates for successful professional careers through a unique global immersion in management education.

Students live and study in U.S., Europe, and India and gain an in-depth exposure to the diverse economies and cultures there. The goal is to come away with a truly global perspective on business, a sense of the social value of business development in the global economy and increased personal development and self-awareness.

—Patrick Verel

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fordham Cheers on New Cardinal

Timothy M. Dolan was elevated to cardinal on Saturday, Feb. 18, along with 21 other priests in a ceremony at the Vatican. Cardinal Dolan was named Archbishop of New York by Pope Benedict XVI on February 23, 2009. Prior to being named archbishop of New York, he had served as archbishop of Milwaukee since June 25, 2002.

Several members of the University community were on hand for the Cardinal’s elevation, including trustees, faculty and administrators.

(L to R) John N. Tognino (FCLS ’75), chairman, Fordham University Board of Trustees; Cardinal Designate Timothy M. Dolan; Norma Tognino; Barbara Costantino; and John R. Costantino (FCRH ’67, LAW ’70), Fordham trustee emeritus.

Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn, vice president for University mission and ministry, and Patrick J. Ryan, S.J., the Laurence J. McGinley, S.J. Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham, both in Rome for Cardinal Dolan’s elevation, and were an on-air expert for WABC and other news outlets.

(L to R) Henry Schwalbenbeg, Ph. D., director of Fordham’s graduate program in International Political Economy and Development; the newly-elevated Timothy Cardinal Dolan; and Alma Schwalbenberg (GSAS ’93)

In New York, Terrence Tilley, Ph.D., the Avery Cardinal Dulles Professor of Theology and chair of the Department of Theology at Fordham, said “[Cardinal Dolan] smiles, he laughs, he has a good time. He will present being a Catholic as being simply joyous. As someone who is a sinner who is a redeemed sinner, like a recovering alcoholic who is enjoying the new status.”

Maureen A. Tilley, Ph.D., professor of theology at Fordham, said the Cardinal’s impact could be considerable. “Between his personality and his record, he has the potential…and I say the potential, to be the most influential Cardinal from New York since Cardinal Spellman.”

‘Rock Star’ Dolan Embraces Bully Pulpit

Photos Courtesy of Henry Schwalbenberg

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Graduate School of Education Announces a New Accelerated Master's Program

Fordham’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) recently announced a new Accelerated Master’s Program in Educational Leadership (A.M.P.E.L.), slated to begin this summer.

The intensive one-year program will prepare future school administrators and supervisors and qualify graduates to take the New York State School Building Leader (SBL) Certification Examination.

With the aim of expediting the certification process for qualified individuals, the 30-credit master’s program will promote learning through group projects, action research, critical reflection, intensive clinical applications, problem-based simulations, policy analysis, and a year-long internship experience.

The school is currently accepting applications for admission to the first cohort, which will begin July 2012 at both the Lincoln Center and Westchester/West Harrison campuses.

For more details, read the entry on the GSE blog.

-- Joanna Klimaski

Monday, February 13, 2012

Having Math Troubles? Read a Poem

For children and adults alike, math can be notoriously difficult to master.

So how about using poetry?

That left brain/right brain-crossing technique is precisely the approach that Joseph A. Porzio, team associate for the Partnership Support Organization/Children First Network at the Graduate School of Education’s Center for Educational Partnerships, has taken.

Porzio, a 47-year veteran of the education field, recently published Poematics: Learn, Understand, and Enjoy Elementary School Mathematics Through Poetry (iUniverse, 2011).

A compilation of math poems and math art, the book serves to supplement elementary mathematics by providing a new avenue for teachers, students, and parents to access the subject.

“Oftentimes, adults and children have math anxiety, so I attempt to address that issue, especially for elementary schools, by making a fun way to approach math,” Porzio said. “Teachers can use it to motivate kids, to integrate it into lessons they’re doing, and to use it as a culminating activity.”

The book’s 29 poems, featuring titles such as “Tens and Ones” and “Skip Count to Multiplication,” span several topics in mathematics, including algebra, fractions, and geometry. In “Meeting the Triangle Family,” Porzio portrays a clan of triangles who live at the corner of Polygon Way and who each represent a triangle type.

…Mama Triangle—she loves our sides.
Though we’re different, she likes what she sees
‘Cause she knows the sum of our angles
Is one hundred and eighty degrees.

There’s a kid in the Triangle family
Who thinks she’s smart and quite bright
‘Cause one of her angle measures
Makes everyone tell her she’s right

“This is a compilation of work I’ve been doing over the years,” Porzio said. “And it’s always been in response to questions raised by teachers, parents, or students, who would say ‘Joe, is there another way to approach teaching basic facts in multiplication, division, or fractions?’ So that was my task—to come back the next day with a different strategy.”

According to Porzio, his unique approach comes at an opportune moment. In recent years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—known as the “Nation’s Report Card”—revealed that students’ math scores on national exams have shown only marginal positive change.

Consequently, most states are transitioning from statewide learning standards to the Common Core Learning Standards initiative.

“It’ll have an impact on state assessments. There will be more challenging and more rigorous tasks. So we’re moving to support that rollout,” Porzio said. “We want all students to be proficient in math.”

Proficiency, however, involves more than understanding just the mathematical concepts, Porzio pointed out. Students also must have sufficient communication skills to understand extended response questions, which require the students to both read a question and write an in-depth answer.

But what better way to enhance communication skills than by reading and reciting poetry?

Going a step further, Porzio incorporates several “word poems,” which instruct readers on such topics as grammar and spelling. In “Change Has Many Meanings,” for instance, Porzio demonstrates how diversely the word “change” functions:

Change has many meanings.
It’s a very special word.
One that’s used by young ‘n old.
Here’s some I’m sure you’ve heard.

“Can you give me
change for a quarter?”
A friend asked. “Will you please?”
“Of course!” I said, and nodded my head
As I made change with ease.

Some things change a little bit,
Like my weight or growing tall,
But the hand I use to write my name
I never change at all…

Whether math, grammar, or anything in between, then, the Poematics poems aim to provide a new window for students to access the material, Porzio said.

“Kids (or adults) will get a problem and they’ll look at it and they’ll push off and say, ‘I can’t do this. I hate problem solving, and I always hated it.’ What they’re really saying is that they lack the problem-solving skills that should be taught early on,” Porzio said. “This gives a teacher another avenue to pursue.”

-- Joanna Klimaski

Friday, February 10, 2012

Goods of Conscience Comes to Fordham, Inspires Students

New service opportunities are sprouting in Fordham’s backyard following a presentation this week about a Bronx-based clothing enterprise that helps poor Guatemalan communities.

The enterprise, Goods of Conscience, provides livelihoods in Guatemala while also supporting environmentally sound cotton farming and giving work to the underemployed in the Bronx.

It was begun in 2005 by the Reverend Andrew O’Connor, vicar of Holy Family Church in the Bronx. In a lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Rose Hill campus, he described the project and stoked students’ interest in either taking part or setting up similar international collaborations.

“Father O’Connor gave an inspiring lecture,” said assistant professor of chemistry Jon Friedrich, Ph.D., who arranged the event. Students in the Environmental Science and Environmental Policy programs attended, along with members of Students for Fair Trade and Students for Environmental Awareness and Justice.

“He has the ability to combine artistry, spirituality, and environmental justice into his projects in a unique way,” according to Friedrich. “Our students … were able to hear how relatively simple actions can legitimately affect other people's lives for the better.”

Goods of Conscience uses “Social Fabric” that is produced in cooperation with Textiles Proteje, a foundation serving the needs of Guatemalan Mayan weavers. O’Connor provides a synthetic, reflective yarn that the weavers combine with rare organic cotton, and the finished fabric is shipped to the Bronx, where it is fashioned into clothing by local garment workers.

The cotton is a heritage strain that naturally resists pests. It is produced through environmentally sound methods on the last commercial cotton farm left in Guatemala, and grows in vibrant colors because of the humid climate.

The distinctive reflective yarn used in the clothing ensures that it can’t be counterfeited, so workers can earn a living wage, O’Connor said. The clothing has gained visibility; some of it was modeled by Cameron Diaz in a 2009 issue of Vogue.

O’Connor got the idea for the project during a retreat in rural Guatemala. He wanted to help preserve the tradition off back-strap weaving and help the weavers earn a living wage.

The project has brought electricity to homes in one Guatemalan village and enabled residents to start building a church and community center, he said. Goods of Conscience has gotten involved in other projects, like helping to raise funds to construct a granary in the Ecuadorean village of Cotopaxi.

In the Bronx, the organization also offers courses in home arts, recycling, and conserving resources. Goods of Conscience also promotes local gardening, and will establish a yard this spring this spring to grow hops for use by the Bronx Brewery.

“It’s been growing pretty organically,” O’Connor said, referring to Goods of Conscience. “I just really want to enable people to be able to come up with ideas that are very generative, that help to promote Catholic social teaching.”

He said students could help in many ways—by working with children in the church’s grammar school, for instance, or by helping with gardening projects or helping to market Social Fabric clothing. “There are opportunities to come and help,” he said.

—Chris Gosier

Three Weeks in, Leaders Emerge in RecycleMania Challenge

Three weeks into the annual RecycleMania challenge, three residence halls currently share the title of the greenest of them all.

According to results released on Sunday, Feb. 5 by consultant Wake Forest, Rose Hill’s Tierney Hall and Salice-Conley Hall and Lincoln Center’s McMahon Hall lead the pack in the categories of most paper and cardboard, most glass, metal and plastic, and least amount of trash per person, respectfully.

Reflecting the differences between the two campuses, Walsh Hall’s 1.92 pounds of trash per person count was far less than any amount recorded at Rose Hill. The students there who kept the most trash out of the garbage stream was Alumni South, at 3.63 pounds per person. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Martyr’s Court, which generated 6.54 pounds of trash per person.

On the paper and cardboard front, the residents of Tierney Hall have recycled 2.30 pounds per person, way ahead of the next best total, Walsh Hall’s 1.18 pounds. McMahon Hall currently has the last spot, with a mere .29 pounds per person.

Like Tierney, the residents of Salice-Conley are outshining their peers, as their 1.06 pounds per person haul of glass, metal and plastic tops next door neighbor Campbell Hall, at .80 pounds per person. Alumni South currently occupies last place, with .24 pounds per person.

Recyclemania continues through March 31. For more information, visit

—Patrick Verel

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Political Science Professor Honored with Book Award

Jeffrey Cohen, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Political Science at Fordham, has been awarded the 2012 Goldsmith prize for best academic book.

Going Local: Presidential Leadership in the Post-Broadcast Age (CUP, 2010) was honored as a book “that best fulfills the objective of improving democratic governance through an examination of the intersection between the media, politics and public policy.”

The award, which is given by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University, follows on the heels of the 2011 Neustadt Award, which was given the American Political Science Association for the best book on the presidency.

—Patrick Verel

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fordham Fetes Four on Arts & Sciences Day 2012

Congratulations to four members of Fordham's faculty, who were honored on Friday, Feb. 3 for their distinguished teaching in the areas of graduate study, science, social sciences and humanities at the annual Faculty Arts & Sciences Day. Pictured above are the awardees. From left to right they are:

Humanities: Aristotle "Telly" Papanikolaou, Ph.D., Department of Theology
Science: Rachel Annunziato, Ph.D., Department of Psychology
Social Science: John Entelis, Ph.D., Department of Political Science
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: Elaine Crane, Ph.D., Department of History

This year's lecture was given by Jason Morris, Ph.D., associate professor of biology in the Department of Natural Sciences, and was entitled, “Arrested Development and Bad Eggs: Genetics of Growth and Fertility in Drosophila.”

Faculty were treated to dinner and a reception in the McGinley Ballroom. The event is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill. (photo by Ken Levinson)