Fordham Notes: January 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Francis Effect in Washington

March 21 Update: It seems that Pope Francis is being talked about everywhere. Just this week his image landed on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, of all places. His presence has been ubiquitous in the nation's broadsheet newspapers since his election.

One subject that has been trending lately in the political circles is his influence on lawmakers in Washington, D.C. A January 5 article in The New York Times anecdotally assessed the pontiff's impact on the capitol, citing examples of both Democrats and Republicans aligning themselves with Francis's views on poverty--though their approaches differ. With President Obama scheduled to meet the Pope on March 27, Washington punditry will no doubt crash into Vatican intrigue.

One person who is eminently qualified to weigh in on both worlds is Melinda Henneberger of The Washington Post. After ten years reporting for The New York Times from Rome and D.C., Henneberger knows the turf well. Her talk at Duane Library's Tognino Hall on Monday, March 24 at 4:30 p.m. is titled "A Francis Effect in Washington."

The idea for the lecture sprung from a course being taught by theology professor Michael Peppard, Ph.D. and political science professor Monica McDermott called "Religion and American Politics."

"It's relatively rare that the two departments team up for something like this," said Peppard. "We targeted Melinda because she's known for her straight political reporting, but she also has clout in the Catholic community for her commentary on religion as well." 

The program is presented by the Commonweal Campus Speakers program. The event is sponsored by the Department of Theology, the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, and the Department of Political Science's Forum on American Politics. Contact: Michael Peppard, Ph.D. at  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Book Explores Ethical and Religious Implications of a World with Less Water

Water, that most essential building block of life, forms the basis of a new book by Christiana Peppard, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology. 

Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis (Orbis, 2014), was published on January 14. 

Geared toward educated non-specialists and scholars alike, Just Water aims to explore important aspects of the global fresh water crisis while also providing ethical analysis and principled recommendations about fresh water use and scarcity in the twenty-first century. 

The book is part of a research agenda that seeks to challenge traditional norms concerning the value of natural resources. 

“In an era of economic globalization, the default language for speaking about the value of something is its price,” Peppard said in a 2012 interview with Inside Fordham.

“When we talk about worth, as a theologian or philosopher, there’s an enormous apparatus for dealing with that question. But in contemporary parlance, value equals price. This project brings in an ethical perspective in order to broaden the conversation.”

Peppard says the goal of Just Water is to expand global discourse about the value of a fresh unique, and non-substitutable substance that serves as a baseline for human existence . She also hopes to offer tools for understanding and appreciating contemporary ethical problems posed by looming fresh water scarcity in the twenty first century. 

Follow Peppard on Twitter at @profpeppard or via her website.

—Patrick Verel

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lit Writing. Just Do It.

While teaching a graduate course a few years back on Hip-Hop Street Lit Narratives, Mark Naison, Ph.D., a Fordham professor of history, lectured about a new genre of fiction writing, known as street lit or hip-hop lit, that was being self-published and sold on the streets—sometimes out of the trunk of a car.

The literature, though formulaic and steeped in violence, sex, drugs, and prison life, had managed to find its way into the publishing industry’s major online stores and book chains.

“I had this zany idea that we should try writing our own book,” Naison said.

Castillo-Garsow, Naison, and Pure Bronx

So, he put it to his class: he would write a few pages and hand them around; would someone else in the class take it from there?

Melissa Castillo-Garsow, GSAS ’11, a graduate student in English, did. To compliment Khalil, the young drug dealing hustler that Naison had created, Castillo-Garsow created Rasheeda, a strip club dancer who supports her family while struggling to attend college. The story revolves around their attempts to escape the poverty and dead-end existence many young people in the Bronx face.

Naison and Castillo-Garsow managed to write more than 100 pages to show to other street lit authors, who told them to “keep going” because the story was worthy of being published.The book takes place in the South Bronx, among a backdrop of a community of immigrants struggling in an area undergoing gentrification.

Their final product, Pure Bronx, a Novel, became a reality last year through Agustus Publishing. This past weekend Naison appeared on WFUV’s Fordham Conversations to talk about the the book, which came out in paperback in November. You can listen to the interview here .

Naison now uses the best of urban literature in some of his courses. He and Castillo-Garsow are also working with an entertainment company, Genco LLC, to turn the story into a movie. And more books are likely to come from them both.

Bearing in mind the project’s zany, impetuous start, Naison says he can’t believe the interest the story has generated.

“It’s been amazing.”

-Janet Sassi

Monday, January 27, 2014

GBA Students Bring a Bit of Color to PS 50

Fordham Graduate Marketing Society help add a little color to public schools.
For many New York City public school students, the idea of going to college is a unique goal. But the idea of going to graduate school might be utterly foreign.

"A lot of these kids aren't even aware that you can go back to school after college," said Julia Zangwill, president of the Fordham Graduate Marketing Society at the Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA).

Before coming to Fordham, Zangwill worked with Publicolor, a nonprofit whose gateway program transforms schools into welcoming environments by getting the student volunteers to repaint their institutional-looking environments with upbeat colors and murals. On Saturday, Jan 25, Zangwill and her fellow society members donned painter's cloths and chipped in to help at Public School 50 in Manhattan.

An important upshot of the project is that the grade school students get to meet and work with graduate school students. With 15 GBA students on hand, the kids got some one-on-one time that opened their eyes.

"Wow, you must love school," seemed to be the initial reaction the students had to hearing how much time can be spent studying after high school, said Zangwill. But that quickly changed when they heard that that their fellow painters were business students.

"The kids were joking . . . asking about what stocks they should buy," said Zangwill.  "They knew the lingo."

The GBA’s Graduate Marketing Society aims to enhance the educational and professional experiences of students and alumni of the GBA marketing program. On Thursday, Jan. 30 they will hold their capstone event when they host a career panel on entertainment marketing. Click here for more information
-Tom Stoelker

Faculty Technology Center Hosts Campus Roundtable Discussions on Higher Ed, Starting this Week

Anyone up for a MOOC about MOOCs? 

If so, you’re invited to join six roundtable discussions about the future of higher education, beginning Thursday, Jan. 30.

The meetings at the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses will revolve around “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education,” a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) being taught by Cathy Davidson, Ph.D., the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and co-director of the Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge at Duke University. The first MOOC will be available on Coursera as of today, Monday, Jan. 27.

Kristen A. Treglia, instructional technologist at Fordham’s Faculty Technology Center, said the goal of the meetings, which are being co-sponsored by Fordham’s Blended Learning Task Force, are modeled after book clubs. Participants can participate in the MOOC on Monday (or later) and then discuss it on this Thursday, Jan. 30, from 12 to 1 p.m.

The Blended Learning Task Force was formed in October by the Office of the Provost, and under the leadership of Debra McPhee, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Social Service, it is exploring issues related to technology in the classroom, online learning, and hybrid courses.

And although the discussions will use that week’s MOOC as a jumping point, Treglia says any topic related to education will be on the table. The meetings will hopefully demystify the experience of taking a MOOC, and also open up a space for conversations about education-related topics, from standardized testing to the traditional September-to-June schedule.

“Even if people just want to come and talk about teaching and learning and have some pizza on us, we’ll be happy,” she said. 

The MOOC will cover these topics:  
Week 1:  History of Education
Week 2:  Theories of Education and Learning
Week 3:  Digital Literacies
Week 4:  Innovations to Curriculum
Week 5:  Innovations in Pedagogy and Assessment
Week 6:  How Can We Implement Changes at an Institutional Level?

For more information, contact Kristen Terglia at
To sign up for the MOOC, click here:

To sign up for the discussion groups, click here:

—Patrick Verel

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fordham Jesuits Lead Celebration of Life for One of Their Own

Father Hegyi in 1974 with then biology chair Ruth Witkus, Ph.D.
For a brief moment on Jan. 21, the swirl of snow on the Rose Hill campus served as backdrop to the foundational Jesuit spirituality. On that day, as a massive storm threatened to shut down the city, a Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Father M├írton (Martin) A. Hegyi, S.J., a longtime member of Fordham’s Jesuit community and a faculty member in the Department of Biology, who died on Jan. 17 at Murray-Weigel Hall. Fifteen of his Jesuit brothers flanked his casket and guided him from the University Church for the last time.

Tradition would normally dictate that the Jesuits sing Salve Regina just outside the church doors, but the snowstorm halted the procession at the vestibule. There, the celebrants sang in ancient cadence as the casket was hoisted onto shoulders and the bell tolled. The doors flew open and Father Hegyi was carried from the darkness of the church interior out into the white storm.

Born in Hungary on October 15, 1932, Father Hegyi entered the Society of Jesus in 1952. By several accounts at the service, his decision to remain with the Jesuits came at a tumultuous time in Hungary’s history—and at no small risk to his personal safety.

Father Hegyi, left, with Father McShane in 2007.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, described Father Hegyi’s escape from the Communist Hungary as “harrowing and heroic,” but not a story that could easily be coaxed from him.

The fact that he was reluctant to discuss his personal experience came as no surprise to those who knew him, describing him as a man more inclined to listen to others, than to talk about himself. 
Ladislas Orsy, S.J., said that Father Hegyi “emanated a radiant goodness” and was possessed of three cherished qualities: simplicity, fidelity, and magnanimity.

“His simplicity of purpose was on view for all who came in contact with his fidelity, of whom there were many,” he said, adding that even magnanimous giving was closely tied to his ability to receive and listen to people.

After leaving Hungary, Father Hegyi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology from Oxford University.  He received his doctorate in biology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1973.  His research centered on molecular biology, more particularly on Holopedium, a zooplankton found in the Great Lakes.

His time at Fordham began in the Department of Biological Sciences in 1967. He once described his primary academic challenge as “bridging the tension between science and religion.”

“It was never just biology for him, it was about creation,” said Cheryl Badolato, FCRH ‘78, GSAS'82 who served as a teaching fellow under Father Hegyi and to whom he teasingly referred to as “my penance.”

His quiet charm drew drew fellow biologists to the University as well, said Amy R. Tuininga, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and dean for strategic initiatives at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

“There was something bigger that came from him than from your average human being, a certain power, serenity, and peacefulness,” she said. “He made you feel that there was more than just the biology that you were studying, and that your job as a professor was to look out for your fellow human beings.”

In 1996, on the occasion of receiving an award for excellence in teaching, Father Hegyi was described by Father McShane as “a consummate educator and a gifted mentor” who “introduced countless Fordham pre-meds to the mysteries of general biology.” In 2007, as Associate Professor Emeritus of Biology, he received the Bene Merenti award for his 40 years of service to the University. And in 2009, due to failing health, he moved to Murray-Weigel, the Jesuit infirmary abreast of the Fordham campus, to undertake his new mission of prayer for the church and the Society of Jesus.

In the end, the Jan. 21 Mass celebrated Father Hegyi’s total of 61 years as a Jesuit and 50 years as a priest.

“Martin loved God and God loved Martin,” said Father Orsy. “That’s the whole story.” 

-Tom Stoelker

VIDEO: Fordham Snow Day

A snow storm forced the cancellation of classes on January 21, 2014. After the announcement, students streamed from their Rose Hill classrooms to head home.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Do Gooders Descend On Lincoln Center

Donna Rapaccioli welcomes attendees
Photo by Patrick Verel
The hour may have been a wee early —8:30 a.m.— but the DJ at the Lincoln Center campus's Pope Auditorium on Jan. 16 was pumping out decidedly up-tempo tunes.

And why not? The occasion was Make Impact NYC, a daylong conference dedicated to the premise, “Do Good in Your 'Hood.” 

Monika Mitchell, the founder of the online news and new media platform, joined Donna Rapaccioli, P.D., dean of the Gabelli School of Business, and Michael Pirson., Ph.D., associate professor of management systems at Gabelli, in welcoming attendees. 

Pirson’s Center for Humanistic Management co-sponsored the conference, which featured panels on topics such as how entrepreneurs can leverage New York City’s position in arts, design, and media to affect social impact, how food can be a force for good, and how collaborative co-working communities amplify social impact.

Katie-Hunt Morr, senior manager of values and impact at, kicked things off with a keynote address that contrasted the isolation inherent in simply buying stuff, with the connections that are made when we actively engage with a merchant.  

Katie-Hunt Morr
Photo by Patrick Verel
“I can’t help but think we must feel incredibly isolated from one another when we’re able to buy disposable goods made in essentially slave like labor, and most of the time, the implications of these purchases never crosses our minds,” she said.

“Over the last eight years, 90 people have been seriously injured, and seven have died during Black Friday sales. How isolated must we be if we’re willing to hurt or even kill each other to get a hold of a bargain?”

The chemical neurotransmitter dopamine is partly responsible, she said. Because it is associated with anticipation, not reward, it’s great for business because consumers don’t really care what they own--they only care about the act of purchasing. 

Fortunately, the hormone oxytocin, which is associated with affection and comfort, can also be triggered in commerce through meaningful interactions. Morr cited as an example a couple on Etsy who sells custom-made cutting boards in the shapes of U.S. states. When one is ordered, they ask the buyer to pick a place on the map that’s special to them, and the spot is marked on the board.

“If we understand the story of the people behind what we consume, then we’re able to replace isolation with connection. When people feel rewarded by their purchase, they’ll come back to make more purchases,” she said. 

The conference closed with the announcement of the winner of the “Battle of the Boro Pitch for Impact,” which pitted social entrepreneurship teams from all five boroughs of New York City against each other for $5,000 in cash and $20,000 in services. The winner was “I Am Not A Virgin,” a Manhattan-based ‘eco sexy’ denim line made with recycled plastic bottles.

—Patrick Verel

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fordham Invites Entrepreneurs to Start a Company Over the Weekend

Take a shot at pitching your best business idea: The Fordham Foundry's 3 Day Startup, happening this weekend in the Bronx, is a program seeking to create a viable company in just three days. The event, which begins this Friday, Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. launches Friday evening with a series of brainstorming sessions to pick the best six pitches among entrants.

Over the course of the weekend, those six chosen will create a prototype by Sunday night and hopefully build enough momentum among a network of motivated people to sustain the company beyond the weekend. Startup support over the weekend will be provided by the Fordham Foundry.

Students, business owners or anyone with a strong entrepreneurial drive are encouraged to apply. 3 Day Startup is a social and business experiment to see just how much a group of passionate people can accomplish over the course of 60 hours.

3 Day Startup will take place on:
Friday, Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. to Sunday, Jan. 19 at 10 p.m.
Fordham Foundry, 400 E. Fordham Road, 7th floor, Bronx, New York 10458

For more information, email or visit the 3 Day Startup Bronx application page.

--Jenny Hirsch

Alumni Spotlight: Lincoln Center Alumna Teams Up With Admissions

In the nearly two years since Hillary Fisk, FCLC ’12, graduated from Fordham, she has continued to be an advocate for the University—just as she was as a student.

At Fordham College at Lincoln Center, she was a member of the Lincoln Center Society, a group of student ambassadors who help prospective students get to know the University. She led tours of campus and answered questions about Fordham from high school students and their parents. Now she’s a member of the Fordham Alumni Support Team (FAST), a national network of alumni who support the recruitment efforts of the Office of Undergraduate Admission.

“Students can go online all they want to read about Fordham—class ranks, SAT scores—but if they tour the school or talk with me, they can make a more personal connection. I talk about what it was like to go to Fordham, live in the dorms, be a part of the community,” says Fisk, an executive assistant in government relations for Hewlett-Packard in Washington, D.C. “That’s a lot of what FAST is about.”

John Donahue, FCRH ’10, an admission counselor in Fordham’s Office of Undergraduate Admission, says that during the most recent admission cycle, FAST members met with prospective students at 37 college fairs in Texas, Louisiana, California, Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, and elsewhere.

“Alumni really help us be in more places than we can be as a staff,” says Donahue. “They bring a different perspective and often that perspective is something that a student can struggle to find. Sometimes it rings more true for someone to hear from an alumnus. It can be a powerful conversation.”
Hillary Fisk, FCLC '12, FAST member

Fisk attends college fairs in the D.C. area, where she speaks to high school students and their parents about Fordham. She also attends the Fordham Alumni Chapter of D.C.’s annual regional reception, where prospective students can speak with an admission counselor and meet alumni who work in a variety of fields.

“I had a great experience at Fordham, and I want to give back because of what it gave to me,” says Fisk. “I love sharing my story with prospective students.”

The Springfield, Mo., native began her Fordham story after meeting an alumnus. During high school, Fisk spent a summer at Northwestern University in a theater arts program. She took a class taught by Broadway producer John Johnson, FCLC ’02, who would go on to win a 2013 Tony Award for his work on the play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. “I talked with him and heard about his experience. He loved Fordham and said to go on a tour,” Fisk says. “After visiting campus, I knew it was where I wanted to go.”

At Fordham, she studied political science and secured several internships in New York City and Washington, D.C., including positions at the congressional office of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Fisk headed back to her hometown after graduation to be director of campaign operations for former Missouri state treasurer Sarah Steelman, who was seeking election to the U.S. Senate. Steelman lost the primary election, but Fisk took that campaign experience to Tampa, Fla., in August 2012, and worked as a production coordinator at the Republican National Convention.

“It was an amazing experience to see it and understand it from the inside,” Fisk says. “Everything I had learned in my political science courses at Fordham, I got to see at [the convention] live and not just from CSPAN on my TV.”

In October 2012, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she’s found a job and community to fit her education and interests. In her position with Hewlett-Packard, Fisk supports the government relations team’s lobbying efforts in the United States and Latin America. Fisk also spends time playing bingo with local military veterans as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a volunteer women’s service organization.

“She’s a really good example of what people can do with their Fordham education,” says Donahue.

For more information on FAST, please contact John Donahue at

—Rachel Buttner

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Roundup: Fordham Professors Quoted in the Media

Gold medalist skier Lindsay Vonn will miss the Sochi Olympics.
When it comes to news stories dealing with sports business or law, chances are Mark Conrad, associate professor of law and ethics, has an opinion.

Conrad, who oversees the sports business specialization at the Gabelli School of Business, was quoted in an article on about what the absence of gold medalist skier Lindsay Vonn means for the Sochi Olympics. (Vonn will skip the competition due to a knee injury):

"She's highly marketable, and without her I would expect interest in the games from U.S. viewers to drop," said Mark Conrad, professor of sports law at Fordham University.
"There aren't that many well-known American athletes in the games, and she was probably the major draw," he said.

Conrad was also quoted in the New York Times about a lawsuit settlement which will allow former National Football League players suffering from health problems to receive as much as $5 million each.

According to the Times, some former players have indicated that the settlement is insufficient and are inclined to turn it down because they say not enough money will be available for players struggling with memory loss, anger management and other problems.

Still, Conrad doesn’t see too many former players opting out:

“I think this is pretty much a done deal,” said Mark Conrad, who teaches sports law at the Gabelli and Graduate Schools of Business at Fordham University. “Are people going to go to litigation by themselves and spend years doing this? I thought the $760 million was too low, but time is not on the side of people with these conditions.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Over on the local politics side of things, New York City welcomed its first new mayor in more than a decade, and Christina Greer, assistant professor of political science, has kept busy giving interviews.

Former President Clinton swears in new mayor Bill de Blasio.
Image via The Nation.

Greer provided live analysis on NY1 during Mayor Bill  de Blasio’s inauguration (it was cold one! See video here). She also penned an opinion piece for The New York Times’ “Room for Debate” section, which asked if speakers at the Jan. 1st inaugural were rude to the former mayor or just “voicing the frustrations of millions of New Yorkers who are rarely heard.”

Mayor Bloomberg wasn't smiling in the inauguration.
Image via Daily News.
Greer wrote:

“If anyone expected the inauguration of the first Democratic mayor in 20 years to serve as an occasion to celebrate the accomplishments of his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, while ignoring the issues of stop-and-frisk, homelessness, hyper-development of neighborhoods and rising inequities in general, they were sorely mistaken.”

Still, DeBlasio has a lot to prove, Greer added:

“It is now up to Mayor de Blasio to make his promises a reality. If not, he will be the one sitting bundled up on a cold January day in 2018, listening to future poets, activists and politicians go on about how he disappointed New Yorkers.”

Read the entire piece, and the opinions of others who weighed in on the same topic, here.

Greer, author of Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream (Oxford University Press, 2013), also weighed in on another change in New York: an apparent shift by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (FCRH '79) on medical marijuana. Read that story here.

Finally, in other media clips news related to Fordham and the new mayor, a Dec. 13 article in The New York Times included a book published by Fordham University Press as “suggested reading for de Blasio:”

“The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned” (Fordham University Press). Daniel Campo, a former New York City planner, considers the serendipitous development of Williamsburg and concludes: “In contrast to urban space produced through conventional planning and design, the accidental playground that evolved on the North Brooklyn waterfront generated vitality through immediate and largely unmeditated action. The waterfront was there for the claiming, and people went out and did just that without asking for permission, holding meetings or making plans.”

See the rest of the list here.

-Gina Vergel