Fordham Notes: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fordham Founder's Award Dinner and Campaign Close Celebration

The Thirteenth Annual Fordham Founder's Award Dinner
and Campaign Close Celebration
March 31, 2014
Founder's Award recipients Linda and Bill Stavropoulos
Founder's Award recipient Judy Livingston Moore with her son, James Moore, LAW '15; Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham; and Bob Daleo, chair of the University's Board of Trustees

Pat and Jim Houlihan
David S. Ciancimino, S.J.; His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan; Father McShane; His Eminence Edward Cardinal Egan; Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America; the Most Rev. William Francis Murphy, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre
Emcee Bill Baker and Charles Osgood
Tom Salice and Susan Conley Salice
Father McShane poses for a selfie with scholars Alexandria Johnson, FCLC '14, Sal Cocchiaro, GSB '17, Robyn Ayers, FCLC '16, Gabriela Cinkova, GSB '15, and Christopher Wilson, FCLC '17
Cardinal Dolan with former Fordham Board of Trustees chair John Tognino
Maureen Callanan, left, Peggy Hassett, right, and Jack Kehoe, center
Jim Buckman and Stephanie Gaitley
Cardinal Dolan with Tom Kavaler and the Honorable Loretta Preska
Peggy Smyth and Sly McClearn
Ed O'Brien, Jr., Ed O'Brien, Sr., Jack Kehoe
Barbara Costantino, Mo Cunniffe, Carolyn Dursi Cunniffe, John Costantino
Emcee Bill Baker, center, with Founder's Awards
Regina Pitaro and Mario Gabelli
Cosette Carlomusto, FCLC junior and choir soloist
Darlene Luccio Jordan
Mary Higgins Clark
The evening's spread
The Fordham Founder's Scholars
Founder's Scholar Alexandria Johnson
Father McShane announces campaign close
Hail Rams of Fordham

Fordham senior Max Williams joins Father McShane in song

An overview of the festivities

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fordham Law Presents Double Bill on National Security

Harold Koh
The United States may look very different in 2024. 

Among the changes we can expect a decade from now are shifts in the way laws govern issues related to national security. 

To help get a better sense of what the future may hold, the Center for National Security, the Fordham International Law Journal, and the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, present back-to-back evening talks with former legal advisers for the U.S. Department of State.

 “The Future of National Security Policy,” will feature on Monday John Bellinger, a former legal adviser for the U.S. Department of State, former Senior Associate Counsel to the President, and former Legal Adviser to the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration.

John Bellinger
He’ll be followed 48 hours later by Harold Koh, a former legal adviser for the Department of State during the Obama administration, and a former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor during the Clinton Administration.

Monday, March 31 and Tuesday, April 2
6 p.m.
E. Gerald Corrigan Center-12th Floor Lounge, Lowenstein Center, Lincoln Center Campus 

Among the questions that will be raised are: How do we understand the past? What will U.S. collaboration with the international community on counterterrorism look like in the next 10 years? What does the expansion of military capabilities over the last decade mean for security policy? What is the future of the authorization for use of military force? And under what legal authority will the U.S. continue to engage in counterterrorism and military operations around the globe?

For more information and to RSVP, visit the Center for National Security’s website

—Patrick Verel

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tweet Savvy Medievalists Take on French of Outremer

Before the Crusades, the French language was mostly written in verse and intended for an aristocratic audience in and around France. The language itself was still young when Christians settled in areas now called the Middle East. But in Antioch, Cypress, and Jerusalem the need for communication of all types created an explosion of prose products written in French to chronicle history, negotiate legal treatises, transfer lands, and guide pilgrimages.

“At the time you had people using French in France, but you also had people going in and out of both areas--so when they set up their states they continued to use French (in place of Latin),” said Laura Morreale, Ph.D., associate director at Fordham's 
Center for Medieval Studies. “The question we will address is why would people choose to use French when there were these other identities?”

Morreale will be co-chairing the center’s annual conference at the Lincoln Center campus this weekend, March 29 and 30, titled “
French of Outremer: Communities and Communications in the Crusading Mediterranean,” with outremer roughly translating as “oversees” to describe the Latin Eastern states founded after the First Crusades.

Running parallel to the conference will be comments and conversations on Twitter at #FOO2014. Morreale there will also be a conference website that will collect and offer support for the study of a “repertoire of works and texts." 

“We aim to make it a digital studies center,” said Morreale. “ Abstracts of papers from the conference will be are posted there and we’ll aim to publish the proceedings in either a digital or traditional format.”

While the conference is packed with experts, there are a couple of standout lectures and presentations. The University of Naples’ Laura Minervini, Ph.D., will set the stage on Saturday morning with her talk, ‘What we Know and Don’t yet Know About Outremer French.” Later in the afternoon curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art will preview their 2016 exhibition, "Jerusalem 1000-1400." And on Sunday morning Peter Edbury, Ph.D., of Cardiff University, widely considered the world expert on French language texts from the Latin East, will deliver, “Ernoul, Eracles and the Collapse of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.”

--Tom Stoelker
You can follow the entire conference on Twitter at #FOO2014:

Gender Theorist Butler to Deliver Fordham's Suarez Lecture

Judith Butler
Contributed photo
Noted philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler, Ph.D., will deliver “'We, the People,' or Plural Action” at the Fordham philosophy department’s annual Suarez Lecture next week.

Tuesday, April 1
4:30 p.m.
Flom Auditorium, Walsh Family Library, Rose Hill Campus

Butler, the Maxine Elliot Professor in the departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature and the Co-director of the Program of Critical Theory University of California Berkeley, has had a significant influence on the fields of feminist, queer, and literary theory, philosophy, political philosophy, and ethics.

She is perhaps best known for her works Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge, 1990) and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex,” (Routledge, 1990) where she challenges the sex/gender distinction and develops her theory of “gender performativity.”

Francisco Suarez, S.J., a late-medieval philosopher in the Catholic tradition, was known for his work in metaphysics, ethics, and just war theory, among other topics. In recent years, the Suarez lecture has been given by such notables as Harry Frankfurt and Christine Korsgaard.

—Patrick Verel

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Faculty Book Deconstructs Lay of the Land, In China

Grace Shen's book just published with University of Chicago Press, Unearthing the Nation: Modern Geology and National Identity in Republican China, 1911-1949, tackles the points at which history and science intersect--through a study of Chinese geology in the 20th century.

In it, Shen, assistant professor of history, expands on her doctoral thesis to explore the “multiple valences of the land itself—as territory, resource, physical environment, and native place,” she writes, and “ways that models of science and nation converged in geological activity.” Battling the 20th-century encroachment of western powers and ideas, Chinese geologists, she says, looked for ways to associate their scientific studies with political and cultural loyalties to their country.

The U of C press describes it as the "first major history of modern Chinese geology." Read more about Shen here from an interview in Inside Fordham.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The 2014 Clavius Lecture: Painting Sound and Singing Colors

Shinsuke Shimojo, Ph.D.
It’s not frequent that artists are invited to join scientists, engineers, and social scientists for a lecture on cognitive neuroscience. But this year’s Clavius Distinguished Lecture held on March 27 featured Shinsuke Shimojo, Ph.D., whose exploration of vision, perception, and decision-making piqued everyone's curiosity.

“This talk [is] of interest to a wide range of people, not just scientists,” said Shimojo, the California Institute of Technology Gertrude Baltimore Professor of Experimental Psychology.

Titled “Sensory Substitution, Multisensory Plasticity, and the Third Kind of ‘Qualia,’” Shimojo focused on qualia, which, to some, refers to the absolute, unique quality of a conscious sensory experience--i.e., when two people look at a saturated color are they seeing the same thing? Or do they each see it in their own unique manner? Since qualia is not something easily defined through words alone, Shimojo incorporated plenty of sound and visual examples.

Shimojo said qualia presents a conundrum for scientists, since its not a “hard” problem. Nevertheless, current sensory sciences fail to critically characterize the unique quality of sensory experiences.

As an example, Shimojo has examined a sensory substation device used by the blind called a “vOICe.” Operating like a scanner or radar, vOICe uses a portable computer and digital glasses to translate video data into a sound stream. Contrasts are translated into pitch and volume, allowing dimension and distance to come into focus.

“We are trying to give the blind some digital ability, but in order to do that you need to rely on the brains ability to learn how to interpret the sound,” said Shimojo.

Shimojo brought a short video of colorblind artist Neil Harbisson, who collaborated with an engineer to create a device that translates color into sound. The artist claims that he can now "see" color.

“Inspired by this, we studied aesthetic experience though devices and now we have neuroaesthetic data about people’s judgment,” said Shimojo.

Shimojo explained that if calculations can be derived to translate the visual into sound, then an inverse calculation could be made from sound to the visual.

Below, Harbisson explains how he is taking a similar approach by creating a clothing line where the colors are dictated by songs.

“You can go to a funeral wearing a "Requiem" from Mozart. It will look very colorful, but it’ll sound very sad,” he said.

And while much of Harbisson's approach to the science sounds amusing, it holds very serious implications. Some of the blind subjects using the technology have shown activity in the visual cortical areas in fMRI scans. Shimojo said the ultimate strategy is to come up with a brief list of psychophysical and neuroscientific criteria for “vision-like” processing and to search for empirical evidence.

“You don’t have to be blind to appreciate the technology,” said Shimojo. “Through calculation and translation, from well-known painting to classical music, by using these devices we can add another dimension of our sensory experience.”

The lecture took place on Thursday, March 27, in the Flom Auditorium in the Walsh Library at Fordham's Rose Hill Campus.

For more Information, contact Palma Hutter at or 718-817-4480. 

-Tom Stoelker

Monday, March 24, 2014

Denzel Washington Returns to Broadway

On entering the Ethel Barrymore Theater on West 47th Street, an interview with playwright Lorraine Hansberry plays overhead and the poetry of Langston Hughes is projected onto a scrim. Before the curtain has even risen, theatergoers understand that what they are about to witness is steeped in history.

Hansberry’s groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun opened on the same stage fifty years ago, making it the first play by an African American woman produced on Broadway. A half-century later, the play is back with Denzel Washington, FCLC ’77, as Walter Lee Younger, a role made famous on film by the great Sidney Poitier.

Officially opening on April 3, the play is still in previews. Last week, a group of over a hundred, alumni, trustees, and friends went to see the show. Many were participating in Alumni Relations’ Spring Culture Outing series.

Needless to say, Washington received a rousing ovation from the Fordham section of the theater. With respect to Poitier, Washington makes the role his own. For those who have only seen the film, seeing it on stage reveals Hansberry’s rhythmic writing and brilliant stagecraft.

What was perhaps less expected was the reaction to Latanya Richardson Jackson’s performance. Jackson, the wife of Samuel L. Jackson, took over the earth mother role of Lena Younger from Diahann Carroll, who dropped out of the production only last month. At intermission, several in the audience could be seen rifling through their programs to read up on this powerhouse performer.

Jackson is one part of a very tight ensemble that more than complements Washington. The limited engagement runs through June 15.

Alumni Relations next theater outing will be on June 10 to see Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth, English professor Mary Bly, Ph.D., will discuss the play at a dinner preceding the show.

-Tom Stoelker

Friday, March 21, 2014

Expert on Transnational Justice to Speak at Fordham

The killing of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter in November 1989 was one of the most horrific episodes of the Salvadoran Civil War, and one in which the perpetrators were long left untouched by justice.

On Tuesday evening, Almudena Bernabeu will detail how she helped right that wrong, via a landmark court case filed in 2008 against senior Salvadoran officials for their role in the massacre.

Tuesday, March 25

7 p.m.

E. Gerald Corrigan Center-12th Floor Lounge, Lowenstein Center, Lincoln Center Building

Bernabeu, director of transitional justice at the San Francisco–based Center for Justice and Accountability, also led CJA’s work in Spain in a recent genocide trial against former Guatemalan president Efrain Rios Montt.

His conviction in May, 2013 of overseeing the deliberate killings by the armed forces of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil population during his 1982-83 rule was the first time in history that a head of state was sentenced for genocide in a national court.

Bernabeu’s talk is co-sponsored by the Columbia University Seminar on Latin America and Fordham’s Latin American and Latino Studies Institute (LALSI) and Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA).

For more information, contact Hector Lindo-Fuentes at (212) 636-6361.
—Patrick Verel

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Girls Night Out, and Loads of Fun

The Rams appearing live on ESPN.
Photos by Vincent Dusovic.
The Rose Hill gymnasium was teeming with athletes of all ages on March 17 as the Rams hosted an ESPN NCAA Selection Watch party for Fordham’s women’s basketball A-10 championship team.

Not only was the Fordham community invited to attend; also on hand were several metropolitan-area Catholic Youth Organization girl’s basketball teams, invited by Fordham to watch the Ram appear on ESPN as they learned of their first-round NCAA playoff opponent. 

Rams and fans leapt and cheered as they watched themselves live on the gym’s video screens and celebrated their tenth-seed selection. 
Coach Gaitley gives one of several of interviews.

The team will head to Waco, Texas for an NCAA First Round matchup against the Cal Golden Bears on Saturday, March 22 at 4 PM ET. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Rams and Golden Bears will be two of four teams in Waco this coming weekend.  The host Baylor Bears will take on Western Kentucky in the other matchup.  

The squad that comes out of that weekend with a pair of wins will travel to South Bend, Ind., for the Regional Semifinals and Finals.
Local team basketball players cheer on the Rams.

Rams Coach Stephanie Gaitley said that it is a "guessing game" where the Fordham women’s team would end up in the playoffs.

“The most important thing is that our kids enjoy the moment [and] learn there’s always an opportunity to make some additional things happen.”

 “It was a complete team effort from all levels to get this far,” she continued. “They have to bring it every day. “

Chaperone Jennifer Flood, from St. Margaret of Cortona school in Riverdale, brought 10 girls, ages 7 to 14, who all play basketball on the school team. 

“I’m an alumna. We’ve been here many times and we think it’s incredible," she said. "They’re great role models. This shows my girls that if you put your mind to it, you can do it just like they did.”

Fordham and Cal have never played one another, but the Rams have faced off against both Baylor and Western Kentucky once.  Coincidentally enough, Fordham, Baylor and Western Kentucky all played in the Northern Lights Invitational in Anchorage, Alaska, in late February of 1988.  The Rams lost to both the Bears and the Hilltoppers to that tournament.

Ram fans wishing to travel to Waco can purchase tickets by contacting the Fordham ticket office by calling 855-RAM-TIXS.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dagger John and the Irish

Novelist Peter Quinn, GSAS ’75, headed up an all-star program at the Museum of the City of New York on March 13. Readings and a discussion centered on Fordham founder Archbishop John Hughes, with Quinn being joined by historian Terry Golway, columnist Dan Barry, poet Honor Molloy, and museum trustee Jim Quinn moderating.

The evening, titled, "Immigrant, Archbishop, and Politician: John Hughes and the Rise of Irish New York," provided riveting accounts of Hughes’ tenure as the champion of the Irish at a time when million’s of the isle’s starving arrived in New York.

Quinn called it “the perfect marriage of the man and the moment,” creating in Hughes the “prototypical in-your-face New Yorker, [like] Al Sharpton with a brogue.”

He noted that the ever-persuasive Hughes induced the Jesuits to move from Kentucky to Fordham with none-to-subtle advice that the best thing for them to do “was to get the hell out of town” and move to the Bronx.

Later, during the discussion with Goloway, Peter Quinn noted that any analysis of the Tammany Hall era of New York without a focus on the Irish famine is an incomplete history.

“Some call that revisionism,” he said. “I call it history.” 

-Tom Stoelker

Friday, March 14, 2014

Alumni Create Digital Space for Meditation

A screenshot from PeaceQuest, an app that evokes the immersive
world of online games but is grounded in a type of prayer popularized
by St. Ignatius Loyola in the 16th century. 

Stephen Fichter, GSS '03
Stephen Fichter, GSS ’03, the pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Haworth, N.J., was traveling a couple of years ago when he had an epiphany.

“I got on a plane and everyone around me had a Kindle, a laptop, or an iPad. They weren't talking to each other; they weren't interacting. They were all kind of lost in their little world.

“Wouldn't it be great,” Father Fichter wondered, “if we could bring God into that digital world?”

He shared his thoughts with Kathe Carson, MC ’75, a
Kathe Carson, MC '75
veteran producer of commercials for corporations and nonprofits, and the two decided to work together to create an app. After months of development—creating
storyboards, working with
3-D animators and programmers, and testing early versions with focus groups—
they launched PeaceQuest.

The app, designed for iPad and iPhone users, offers a series of guided meditations in a setting based in part on Glendalough, a verdant valley in County Wicklow, Ireland.

“It's a magical place,” said Father Fichter, who lived in Dublin for several years. “Green rolling hills, a lake, and an old monastery.”

The soundtrack features birdcalls, burbling waters, and the gentle tolling of a church bell. A monk named Anam Cara (“that’s Irish for soul friend”) greets digital travelers and leads them through a series of meditations.

Users can light virtual candles in a chapel while praying St. Anthony’s Litany of Loss; contemplate an image of Fra Angelico’s painting of the Annunciation; and take in an animated parable about the industrious sparrow, who, when faced with adversity, uses “every twig, every dried piece of grass” to make a new “safe haven.”

“We started with the theme of hope,” Carson said, “which is what this particular group of meditations is on.”

PeaceQuest evokes the immersive world of online games, but Father Fichter said it’s equally inspired by a type of prayer popularized by St. Ignatius Loyola in the 16th century. In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius wrote about “composition of place,” how to see “through the gaze of the imagination the material place where the object I want to contemplate is situated.”

Father Fichter, a sociologist and a research associate at Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, has used “composition of place” in his homilies at Sacred Heart, encouraging parishioners to activate all of their senses and imagine themselves in a scene from Scripture.

“A lot of people resonated with it,” he said. “It helped them grow closer to Christ and deepen their faith.”

Technology, he believes, can facilitate that kind of connection for people who “have a longing for peace, but for whatever reason, organized religion doesn’t do it for them.”

Both Carson and Father Fichter said they hope to develop a version of the app for Android users and produce new meditations, including one on forgiveness and reconciliation, using the story of the prodigal son.

In the meantime, they’re planning to introduce a series of “Pearls,” animated videos that Father Ficther called “one-minute homilies—well crafted and well thought out—meant to give you a boost for the day.”

And they are encouraged by the feedback they’ve received.

James Martin, S.J., bestselling author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything (HarperOne, 2010), has praised PeaceQuest, calling it “contemplation for even the busiest person.”

And Carson said some grandparents have told her how much they enjoy taking their grandkids through the meditations.

“Modern technology is bringing back something old, like sitting with your grandmother and praying,” she said. “That’s something we did not expect.”

—Ryan Stellabotte

Annual Ailey/Fordham Benefit Brings Grace and Elegance to Lincoln Center

Between the signature choreography of Alvin Ailey himself and a student-inspired experimental work, the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. Program dancers held their audience rapt on March 6 at their annual benefit performance for the Denise Jefferson Memorial Scholarship fund. For nearly 90 minutes, the students honored the modern dance tradition through numbers drawing from ballet to modern jazz to hip-hop, their movements deftly articulated and dramatically expressive, their costumes alternately sleek, flowing, and funky.

It is no wonder that Fordham’s President Joseph M. McShane, S.J., has described the dancers as “highly employable” – recently 81 percent of the graduating class got professional contracts.

More than 100 student-dancers are enrolled in the program, which allows students to earn a liberal arts undergraduate degree while also earning a BFA degree through study with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. 

Ailey Fordham BFA Students in Alvin Ailey's Isba.
Photo by Madeline Campisano

Ailey Fordham BFA students in Jessica Lang's La Belle Danse.
Photo by Madeline Capisano

Ailey Fordham BFA students in Taryn Kaschock Russell's Pulse suspended 
Photo by Madeline Campisano
Ailey Fordham BFA Student Gage Self in Choice Culled.
Photo by Madeline Campisano  

Ailey Fordham BFA Student in Alvin Ailey's Hidden Rites
Photo by Madeline Campisano