Fordham Notes: June 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tony-Award Winning Director Shares Lessons with Acting Hopefuls

Students who came to class on June 13 for Musical Theatre Workshop, a summer session class offered by the Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS), were treated to a visit from award-winning Broadway director Bartlett Sher.

Sher, who won a Tony for the 2008 revival of South Pacific, spent 90 minutes at the Lincoln Center campus reflecting on his childhood in San Francisco, his career trajectory, and the current state of musical theater. He also answered questions about topics ranging from auditioning to acting methods.

Speaking to a group whose members hailed from as far away China and Hawaii, Sher extolled the possibilities of making great art anywhere, not just in New York City. He spent many years running an experimental theater in San Diego, he said, and it helped him immeasurably.

“Go and make the work you want to make, and that you feel good about, and do it for 20 years. I promise somebody in New York City might come and find you,” he said.

“If you love the work, and you really dig deep into what it is, it’s just as good as making yourself famous and expecting everybody to acknowledge your innate and obvious talents, which I’m sure you have.”

He encouraged students to pursue works of real consequence that they can really relate to, and not to get too caught up in, the superficial aspects of the industry.

“I know that my work is good when I’m fundamentally working as a subversive agent,” he said.

“And because I was raised Catholic, even when I ran a theater, it was like running a parish. You had to tell stories if you wanted people to come in—like an oncology nurse who always came to the shows because she had a really tough job, and she wanted to experience stories that would help her connect things to the world and make sense of what was there. That can be highly entertaining as well.”

—Patrick Verel

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lincoln Center Construction Showing Progress

On a sultry June afternoon like today, the heat makes it feel as if the entire city might grind to a halt. Not so at the Lincoln Center Campus, where construction continues unabated on the new Law School and residence hall, scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.

The view from the Robert Moses Plaza, just outside the Lowenstein Center

Checking out the top floor from the 20th floor of McMahon Hall

Just one of innumerable welds holding the steel skeleton together.

The building as seen from Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park

The new looms over the old in this view from Columbus Avenue
—Photos By Patrick Verel

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Student Play Honored in Theater Festival

The cast of Cowboys Don't Sing

Cowboys Don’t Sing, an original musical created by members of the student club Fordham Experimental Theatre, was honored at the West Village Musical Theater Festival.

The play, which was written by Dennis Flynn, FCRH '12, Johnny Kelley, FCRH '13 and TJ Alcala, FCRH '13, first debuted at the Collins Auditorium’s Black Box Theater at Rose Hill in February. 

It was one of 24 plays selected for the festival, which ran from June 13 to June 17 at the Bessie Schonberg Theatre in Chelsea. After a watching a segment of the plays in the festival, members of the audience voted on the submissions. At the end of the festival, Cowboys Don’t Sing took home several awards:

For the series competition, (five shows):
Best Dead Guy: Steve Tyson; Best Actor: Matt Van Orden; Best Song: Racist Song; Best Script; Best Lyrics; and Best Direction: Dennis Flynn 

For the entire festival:
Best Lyrics; Best Script; Best Direction: Dennis Flynn; and Best Musical 

Flynn said the show, a loving parody of the standard tropes of the Westerns and musicals, had to be whittled from and hour and 45 minutes down to 15 minutes, and had to be performed without Alcala, who is in Africa. 

“It was a little weird to do it with a slightly different cast, but we’re all such good friends that it just came together,” he said. “It was fun though. I think it was received so well because we decided to go as big and fast as possible.”
—Patrick Verel

Friday, June 15, 2012

End-of-Year Gathering Celebrates Field Workers and Salutes New Bachelor’s Degree

Members and friends of Fordham’s social service program gathered at the Lincoln Center campus on June 15 to mark both the close of the academic year and the expansion of the school’s undergraduate social work program.

The gathering included several students from the Lincoln Center and Westchester bachelor’s of social work (BASW) program and their individual field instructors, who guided the students through their internships.

Each student had recently completed at least 570 hours of fieldwork over the last nine to eleven months, as required by Fordham’s program. Fresh off their first professional venture in social work, the students spoke about their experiences as interns in various social service agencies—experiences that, according to the students, oscillated between trying and rewarding.

“I learned a lot about the interpersonal relationship between myself and a client,” said Chrissy Forgione, a recent BASW graduate who interned at an affordable housing unit that helped formerly homeless adults into housing. “Not to mention being younger than all the tenants, so learning how to be the one sitting behind the desk rather the adult in the room.”

Ralph Brewer De La Rosa, a BASW graduate and soon-to-be master’s of social work student at Fordham, recalled a client he worked with at Reality House, Inc., a substance abuse treatment center. After several frustrating and unsuccessful weeks with his client, Brewer De La Rosa tapped into the young man’s love of boxing to motivate him to adopt a positive attitude and make substantial changes in his life.

The episode, he said, illuminated what it means to genuinely listen to the client.

“I got to see this young man complete the program. He was offered a scholarship to a university, had gotten a job… and invested in a sense of self-respect and pride. I saw him transform right before my eyes,” Brewer De La Rosa said. “It made the coursework that I encountered here at Fordham come alive, and made it really stick.”

The celebration also marked an important turn for Fordham’s social work program, now that undergraduates can declare social work as their primary major. Previously, students who studied social work were required to double-major in another field, such as sociology or psychology.

In addition, these students can apply the credits they earn as undergraduates toward a master’s degree should they be accepted into Fordham’s Graduate School of Social Service (GSS).

“Fordham does such a good job of helping students to think about being of service in the world,” said Rachelle Kammer, Ph.D., assistant professor and coordinator of field instructions for the BASW program. “Exposure to that mentality makes social work, for many students, a natural fit. So the more we can let people know that this program exists, the better.”

Peter Vaughan, Ph.D., dean of GSS, also made an appearance at the event, thanking the field instructors for their dedication to the students’ academic and personal growth.

“The responses we get from students are that they love the program,” Vaughan said. “They never forget their field instructors, who helped them learn so much.”

— Joanna Klimaski

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fordham Kicks Off New York-New Belfast Conference

A bona fide Who’s Who of the New York City’s Irish-American community gathered in the 12th-Floor Lounge Wednesday when Fordham helped launch the city’s third annual New York-New Belfast Conference, held June 13 and 14 at the Lincoln Center campus.

Christine Quinn, speaker of the NY City Council, likely mayoral candidate and a second-generation Irish-American whose grandmother was a survivor on the Titanic, gave the welcoming address to a packed house.

Quinn said that the annual conference, whose theme this year is “Community, Culture and Commerce,” gives New York and Belfast a chance to share best practices in city governance—especially in the areas of policing, entrepreneurship and tourism.

 “The best type of culture is that driven by community experience,” said Quinn. “You can take tourism to the next level by not just focusing on the obvious cultural institutions, but [also] on those groups out there in our neighborhoods.”

Quinn also paid homage to her late grandmother, who, she said, “knew there was a time for praying and a time for running.”

New York journalist and editor Pete Hamill received the Irish American of the Year award. The Brooklyn-born Hamill said he wished his parents, both from Belfast, could be with him, but said the lessons his mother had taught him about respecting other immigrants, and those less fortunate, had stuck with him over the years.

“Belfast in particular is part of my DNA, but I am also a little Jewish, a little African American, a little Mexican, Italian-American.

“We owe something to a country that took us by the hand and gave us the opportunity to become something other than a stereotype,” he said. “I hope that none of us in this room ever forget that the people coming here . . . the Mexicans in Sunset Park living in flats that the Irish used to live in . . . they are us. We owe it to them to help them get up, to make sure they get the educations their mothers and fathers fought hard for.”

(Photo top, Christine Quinn, left, with conference organizer Mairtin O'Muilleoir, president of the Irish Echo; and bottom, Pete Hamill, left, with Irish director Terry George. Photos by Michael Dames.)

--Janet Sassi

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Murray Award Citation for Terrence W. Tilley: Transcript

On June 9, Terrence W. Tilley, Ph.D., the Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Chair in Catholic Theology, received the John Courtney Murray Award Citation from the Catholic Theological Society of America. Here is the tribute, presented by John Thiel, Ph.D., professor of religious studies at Fairfield University.

June 9, 2012

The professors in our Society may sometimes distinguish between teacher-scholar types like themselves, always on the side of the angels, and colleagues who live their professional lives as academic administrators, who, at least in the judgment of the professors, are thought to be singing in another, and sometimes more dissonant, angelic choir.  Our honoree, throughout his career and in his very person, has managed to dash any sense of difference or hierarchy in this metaphorical angelic community, and has done so through the exercise of his remarkable talents as a teacher, a scholar, and an administrator.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 19, 1947, our honoree grew up in that city and in Phoenix, Arizona.  He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of San Francisco in 1970 and his Ph.D. at the Graduate Theological Union in 1976.  As early as his high school years, he developed an interest in the creative intersection of theology and philosophy, an interest that matured in his later studies and that now has taken shape in ten books – two of which were supported by major fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities – more than sixty articles, and dozens of conference presentations.  For our honoree, philosophy is not just a flighty conversation partner, useful here and there to meet theology’s interpretive needs, but an endeavor that requires professional mastery and engagement in order to offer reason’s rich resources to the service of faith.  In this regard, our honoree has shown himself to be a most imaginative Catholic thinker, especially concerned to highlight the pragmatic dimensions of belief and practice often overlooked by theologians who approach the Catholic tradition philosophically only by appeal to metaphysics or through the history of ideas.  Thus, his books on such topics as the nature of faith, the path of Christian discipleship, the workings of tradition, the prudential character of wisdom, and the limitations of theodicy all bring a distinctively American philosophical resonance to the Catholic appreciation for the unity of fides et ratio.  Ever concerned about the theological encounter between the epistemological question of how reason knows and the ecclesial question of how faith believes and acts, his career-long work continues to make an important contribution to theology’s traditional task of faith seeking understanding.

The administrative accomplishments of our honoree have not just fostered the professors, students, and programs he has served but have contributed as well to the good flourishing of Catholic theology in our historical moment.  After appointments at Georgetown University, St. Michael’s College, and Florida State University, he came to the University of Dayton in 1996 as department Chair.  He made a significant contribution to the founding of Dayton’s doctoral program in Theology and served as Director of that program from 1999 to 2003.  In 2006 he arrived at the Rose Hill Campus of Fordham University as Professor of Theology and Department Chair, and in that capacity continues to lead Fordham’s excellent program, since 2010 as the first holder of the Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. Chair in Catholic Theology.  We can only be grateful to him for leading us too – first as a CTSA Board member from 1995 to 1997 and then as our President in 2008-09.  Other professional societies have recognized his talent for “practical wisdom.”  He served as President of the College Theology Society from 1996 to1998, and has served this past year as President of the Society for Philosophy of Religion.

While noting these and, if this genre and time allowed, so many more professional accomplishments, we cannot overlook the personal, which, in light of eternity, will likely shine forth all the more.  Our honoree has been married for forty-two years to Maureen, one of our very best historians of early Christianity, and they are the proud parents of two daughters, Elena and Christine, and the justifiably doting grandparents of Jacqueline.  Our honoree is fond of observing that “theology is a team sport.”  No doubt, that insight issues to some degree from his marriage to Maureen since he has been known to state what is certainly the irrefutable fact: “I know more about Late Antique North African Christianity than any theologian I know.”  Our honoree also is an opera buff, a devotion that has found expression in his own past endeavors as a liturgical cantor and choir member.  The title of our honoree’s doctoral dissertation was “On Being Tentative in Theology.”  Evidently, theology and song are very different things, since those of us who have shared his pew at our convention liturgies know there is nothing tentative about his singing.  And, throughout his career, there has been nothing at all tentative about his love of theology, his scholarly energy, and his steadfast leadership in so many venues of the academy.

In recognition of his extraordinary gifts, his record of theological accomplishment, and his dedicated service, the Catholic Theological Society of America presents its highest honor, the John Courtney Murray Award for Distinguished Achievement in Theology, to Terrence W. Tilley.

Using Skype to Bridge the Gap Between Cultures

Mario Guerrero is a Spanish instructor
in the Department of Modern
Languages and Literatures

With its opportune placing among diverse Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, Fordham would seem the ideal locale for learning the language.

Nevertheless, Mario Guerrero, a Spanish adjunct instructor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, found that his students rarely drawn on their neighborhood’s resources.

“Unfortunately, many students do not take advantage of this opportunity to practice with native speakers,” said Guerrero, who is himself a Fordham alumnus.

So, if he couldn’t encourage his students to venture into the surrounding communities, he figured that he could instead bring a Spanish-speaking populace into the classroom—via the Web.

“I thought I could start a project in which students could practice and improve their Spanish language level by speaking to native speakers,” he said.

During the fall semester Guerrero launched a pilot project connecting English-language-learners and Spanish-language-learners via Skype, which offers free video chatting to users. Each student in his Intro to Spanish II classes was paired with a student learning English as a Foreign Language at Javeriana University, a Jesuit university in Guerrero’s native Colombia.

The students set up four meetings with their partners—two to be conducted in English, and two in Spanish—and conversed on topics that their professors suggested based on each student’s language proficiency.

The experience, Guerrero said, contextualized the students’ language lessons and made them more accessible.

“When foreign language learners are able to express ideas in the language they are learning and understand thoughts and opinions from native speakers related to situations and circumstances that are relevant to them—such as culture, university life, being a student in a Jesuit school—the learning process is more appealing to them than when they just sit in a classroom and repeat drills written in textbooks,” he said.

The Skype sessions improved more than the students’ language skills, Guerrero added. Skype, he pointed out, is a “synchronous communication tool,” that is, a mode of communication that allows face-to-face interaction in real time. Besides prompting the students to practice Spanish in spontaneous conversation, these interactions granted them valuable insights into their partners’ cultures.

“Culture is understood as body language, gestures, concepts of time, traditions, and expressions of friendliness,” he said. “Consequently, linguistic proficiency [alone] is not enough for a second language learner—social cultural competence is fundamental for a more proficient and effective [language] speaker.”

There were inevitable moments when the students had difficulty understanding one another, Guerrero said. Such moments, though, pushed them to assist one another and find creative ways to communicate.

“Some of them thought that it was ‘a bit awkward’ to talk to people you don’t know in general, but they loved the opportunity,” he said. “My students were very happy that they had this experience.”

Guerrero hopes the project can continue not only in his own language classes, but also in other classes throughout the department.

“I think that when students learn a different language they should not only focus on the forms and structures of the language,” he said. “I strongly believe that learners should understand how other people think and perceive the world. Learning another language allows you to interact with people from other cultures and understand that there are differences, which translates into inclusion and diversity.”

Students learning Spanish at Fordham and learning English
at Javeriana University, Colombia, called each other on Skype
and alternated between speaking in Spanish and English.

— Joanna Klimaski

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ailey/Fordham Rising Junior Becomes First Student Choreographer in Spring Concert

Patrick Coker
A Fordham College at Lincoln Center student achieved a first for the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program as the lone student choreographer featured in The Ailey School’s Spring Concert.

Rising junior Patrick Coker’s piece “Although We Don’t See, We Feel” was one of six pieces showcased on May 22 and 23 and was the only piece by a non-professional—a first for the school’s annual Concert.

“Last February, I choreographed a five-minute version of this piece for Global Harmony, an annual performance at The Ailey School that showcases student choreography,” Coker said. “Following the performances, co-director Tracy Inman approached me and asked me to lengthen it to ten minutes for the Spring Concert.

“This was the first student choreography piece ever to be selected, so my dancers and I felt that we had high expectations to live up to,” he said. “It has been an incredible process because I’ve learned so much about myself, and it’s been fun developing my own voice and choreographic style.”

Read more about the experience in a Q&A with Coker.

— Joanna Klimaski

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Who's Got the Pie Eye?

Fordham's June 4th Dagger John Day highlight, a pie-eating contest, attracted an overly-zealous crew of hungry men and women, to try their hands (mouths?) at devouring a whole fruit pie as fast as humanly possible.

Congratulations to unofficial winner Joe Baranello, a strength and conditioning coach intern in the Dept. of Athletics (Joe, did you eat all of your crust?)

All participants got University sweatshirts and, win or lose, clearly everyone enjoyed the show. Photos by Bruce Gilbert.

video posted here

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

End of the Year Move Out Benefits Local Charities

The Salvation Army picked up donations at
the Rose Hill campus on May 24.
Photo by Tom Stoelker

The end of the academic year always brings an exodus from the ten residence halls at Fordham’s Rose Hill Campus. 

But this year, as students boxed and bagged up their possessions, a concerted effort by the University’s office of Residential Life and the Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice steered the gently used clothing, furniture and house wares that might have otherwise been discarded toward the Bronx’ neediest residents. 

Elizabeth Amico, Assistant Director for Housing Operations estimated that eight lounges around campus were filled with donations, reflecting a more concerted effort to let students know, about the effort before they began packing up the summer.

“Some lounges, you could not even walk into and we had to break stuff up into multiple lounges,” she said.

Betamia Coronel, the Dorothy Day Center’s associate coordinator of community service, said the groups that accepted donations this year included the Salvation Army, Thorpe Family Residence, P.O.T.S. soup kitchen, Fordham Bedford Community Services , Fordham University RETC – Center for Professional Development, Concourse House, and the Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter. 

—Patrick Verel

Theology Professor Emeritus to Become President of the Catholic Biblical Association of America

A former Fordham professor and longtime member of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (CBA) will earn the distinction of becoming the 76th president of the association this July.

The Rev. Richard J. Dillon, professor emeritus of theology, was elected vice president of the CBA during the group’s annual meeting in June of 2011. Following his term as vice president, Father Dillon will assume his role as president during the 75th International Meeting of the CBA, which will be held July 28 through 31 at the University of Notre Dame.

Father Dillon retired in 2008 after 30 years at Fordham, seven of which he was chair of the theology department. In addition to his 46-year membership in the CBA, Father Dillon served for four years as editor of The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the official journal of the CBA.

The CBA was established in 1936 by Bishop Edwin O’Hara, chair of the Episcopal Committee on the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, to promote biblical study and improved biblical translation. The group prompted a revision of the Challoner-Rheims translation of the New Testament in 1941, and in 1970 published new translations of both the Old and New Testaments under the title “The New American Bible.”

Over the last seven decades, the CBA has encouraged scholarly study of the Bible and has grown from its original 50 members in 1936 to more than 1,500 worldwide.

Father Richard Dillon (third from left) will become president of
the Catholic Biblical Association in July.
Photo courtesy of Catholic New York

— Joanna Klimaski

Friday, June 1, 2012

College at 60 Summer Series Brings Great Films to Fordham

Fordham’s College at 60 kicks off its new summer series, “Where Great Books Meet Great Movies!” on Tuesday, June 5 with the Academy-award nominated film “The Help.”

The 2011 comedy-drama film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same name is the first of four films that will be screened at the 12th Floor Lounge at the Lincoln Center campus.  It will be followed by showings of “Wings of the Dove,” “The Name of the Rose” and “The Grapes of Wrath.”

The screenings will be followed by a lecture and discussion led by Robert Spiegelman, Ph.D., adjunct professor of sociology and social science at Fordham. Spiegelman, a screenwriter and creative producer with several feature film and documentary projects under development, has incorporated film for years as an integral part of all of his courses at Fordham, Long Island University and the College of Staten Island.

He will be joined by a two-time Emmy Award-winning writer, director, and producer Jon Goodman. Goodman’s most recent film, “Freedom Songs: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement,” aired on PBS sta¬tions nationwide in 2009–2010. He is the author of The Kennedy Mystique: Creating Camelot (National Geographic Books, 2005) and since 2006, he has been an adjunct professor of the arts at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program.

The screenings are open to the public. There is an entrance fee of $20 per event, payable by cash or check at the door.

For more information, visit their website:

--Patrick Verel