Fordham Notes: May 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fordham professor: Maya Angelou gave us permission to 'love ourselves'

Celebrated poet and essayist Maya Angelou died Wednesday at the age of 86.

As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, Angelou was hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature.

Though she never made an appearance at Fordham, Angelou wrote a closing poem for a book edited by Kevin M. Cahill, director of the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs.

Angelou wrote, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” for Even in Chaos:Education in Times of Emergency (Fordham University Press, 2010), a book that focuses on the need for humanitarian workers to place education on an equal footing with medical care in refugee camps, and to protect camp schools from attacks by militias.

"I told her, 'I want you to get me back to the innocence of the children,' and she gave the book a beautiful ending," Cahill told Fordham in 2010.

In 2008, Angelou gave a speech at nearby Pace University in 2008. Alumna and poet Liz Bowen (FCLC '11), then the editor-in-chief of The Observer, Fordham’s student newspaper for the Lincoln Center campus, covered the talk.

We asked one of our faculty members to share her thoughts on Maya Angelou:

“As a middle schooler in Cincinnati, Ohio, I was bombarded with images, words, and ideas that rarely reflected my experience. When we (Black girls and boys) discovered Maya Angelou, we found a way to write ourselves in, we were given permission to love ourselves despite the ways we were silenced and unseen. She revealed that the blueprint for loving all human beings could be found in our ability to live our lives without fear. May she rest in the beauty and power she created,” said Aimee Meredith Cox, culture anthropologist and assistant professor of performance and African American Studies.

-Gina Vergel

Friday, May 23, 2014

New Play Portrays the Gospel of Mark Through the Eyes of a Street Artist

The early days of Christianity, when Christians met in secret and communicated via cryptic symbols to avoid persecution by the Roman emperor Nero, is the focus of a new play featuring George Drance, S.J., artist in residence in Fordham’s Theatre Program.

The play, *mark, is a solo performance of the Gospel of Mark, the oldest of the four Gospels, which was traditionally performed aloud—from start to finish—to give courage to what was then a “community of quiet rebels.” Father Drance will tell the Gospel under the guise of a street artist, in a reflection on early Christians’ use of graffiti—such as the ichthys, or fish symbol—to indicate where they could safely meet.

George Drance, S.J., performs in *mark 
(contributed photo)
The play “allows you to have a little bit of a sense of the underground nature of what Christianity was in the first century,” Father Drance said. “Street art culture today is still a little bit of an underground movement. So using that equivalency, it’s kind of as if the world and the experience of first-century Christians were happening today.”

The asterisk in *mark symbolizes, among other things, another bit of ancient graffiti that it resembles: the first letters of Jesus Christ’s name, in Greek, superimposed on each other, he said.

The play is meant to capture the original urgency of the Gospel’s words.

“I’ve always been intrigued by the experience of what it must have been like to have heard the Gospel for the first time, and knowing that Mark was a Gospel that was traditionally performed, it’s always been kind of a desire of mine to explore that,” said Father Drance, who conceived the idea for the performance.

The show will take place Thursday through Sunday for three weeks, beginning Thursday, May 29, at the LaMaMa First Floor Theatre, located at 74A East 4th Street in Manhattan, between Bowery and 2nd Avenue. The show starts at 7:30 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets are $18 general admission or $13 for students, and can be purchased at the La MaMa website, or by calling its box office at (646) 430-5374 or (212) 475-7710.

The play is presented by La MaMa E.T.C., a world-renowned cultural institution devoted to supporting theatre artists, in association with the Magis Theatre Company's Logos Project. Father Drance is the theatre company's artistic director.

The show is directed by Luann Jennings, founder and director of the Church and Art Network, with original music by award-winning composer Elizabeth Swados.

                                                                                                -- Chris Gosier

Thursday, May 22, 2014

GBA Takes Home Several Springtime Wins

Now that the celebratory dust surrounding commencement is finally settling, the Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA) deserves a shout-out for some impressive recognition it received recently.

Each year Fordham’s Executive MBA program is recognized by Poets and Quants magazine, as the program climbs its way up the magazine's ranking of rankings list.

“It’s based on performance on other rankings so it’s very interdependent,” explained Francis Petit, Ph.D., associate dean of executive programs. “So if you keep doing well on other rankings, like Financial Times or Bloomberg, it'll have positive effect.”

Poets & Quants ranked the program 39th worldwide, up from 41 in 2013, and 42 in 2012. Petit cited the program’s international emersion elective as key to its success.

In addition, CEO Magazine ranked Fordham’s EMBA as a tier one program.

Another big win for GBA came directly from one of its students. MBA student Michael Hartigan took first place in this year’s All-America Student Analyst Competition sponsored by Institutional Investor magazine.

The competition brought together more than 2,100 students from over 81 universities, to trade $100,000 in virtual money. The four-month contest scored students in the same manner as any major investment house would to assess their own employees.

“Michael took a very solid approach from constructing a sound portfolio of three stocks that he felt were uncorrelated and took calculated risks,” said Robert Fuest, an adjunct professor at Fordham and the faculty advisor for students in the competition.

“He understands the difference between a good company versus a good stock; sometimes it could be a good company, but it’s a bad stock. And he gets that.”

In addition to Hartigan, seven other MBA students made it into the top 100 contenders, making Fordham the leading school in the competition.

“Part of what we’re doing is giving students practical experience and discussing business as it is in real life, not just theoretical,” said Fuest, who is also the COO of Landor and Fuest Capital.

“I think that taking a clinical aspect to learning is critical. They do it in law, they do it in medicine, and they do it in some business schools. This competition helps us to do that here.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Media Spotlight: Patrick Hornbeck Weighs in on Vatican Strengthening its Financial Oversight

It’s not every day that publications focusing on corporate compliance and governance feature pieces about Pope Francis. But on May 21st, the Wall Street Journal’s “Risk and Compliance Journal” did just that, and featured a Fordham faculty member’s quote with it.

Journal columnist Gregory Millman says Pope Francis “appears to be taking a leaf from the corporate compliance playbook with major reforms of the Vatican’s governance and finances, aimed at guarding the Holy See’s reputation and making its dealings more transparent.”

The Vatican’s anti-money-laundering unit, the Financial Information Authority, on May 20 released its first annual report, and Millman reports that compliance changes at the Vatican go much further, and include establishing three new bodies with jurisdiction over finance and administration.

The essentials of the new governance structure were sketched out by Pope Francis in a February document called a Motu Proprio.

The objective is to bring 21st-century governance to an ancient organization whose traditional administration was inadequate to prevent the well-publicized scandals of recent years, Millman says:

“The first of the new Vatican organizations is a Council on the Economy, whose membership includes eight cardinals and seven lay experts. The second new unit, a Secretariat for the Economy, is equal in rank to the Vatican Secretariat of State. It reports directly to the Pope, and has jurisdiction over operational matters including controls, policies and procedures, purchasing and human resources. The third element of the new governance structure is an independent auditor general.”

Millman also says “Pope Francis’s governance changes also strike a blow against one of his bĂȘte noires: clericalism, or excessive deference to the clergy even in areas where clerical status is irrelevant.” And this is where a Fordham theology expert weighs in:

Patrick Hornbeck, professor and chair of the theology department at Fordham University in New York, said that the new structure’s provision for sharing of power between clergy and laity is “a significant and a distinctive feature of the emerging style of Francis’s papacy,” explaining, “I think that Pope Francis is recognizing that, with respect to issues like the economy, lay experts who deal in matters of finance and governance and compliance for a living might be better positioned to advise him on these issues than members of the clergy might.”

Read the whole piece here (subscription required).

-Gina Vergel

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CRS Assigns Three Fordham IPED Alumni to Central African Republic

Catholic Relief Services has assigned three alumni of Fordham University's Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED) to assist in their response to the continuing humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic. Catholic Relief Services is expanding their presence during the current crisis. 

Whitney Wilding, IPED Class of 2011, Joseph Kelly, IPED Class of 2004, and Erin Lewis, IPED Class of 2013 were all Arrupe Fellows who specialized in International Development Studies with an emphasis on project management and assessment.
Left to right: Whitney Wilding, Joseph Kelly, and Erin Lewis,
in Bangui, the capitol of Central African Republic.

Wilding is based in the Central African Republic; Kelly and Lewis are on temporary duty assignments in the Central African Republic.  Normally, Kelly would be based in Jordan and Lewis in Burundi.  Kelly is the 2013 winner of Fordham's Swanstrom-Baerwald Award for his previous work with Catholic Relief Services in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D., professor of political economy and director of the the graduate program in international political economy and development, the Central African Republic is currently in crisis. The conflict, which began in December 2012, has worsened over the past year. Following a coup in March 2013, violence escalated in December 2013, forcing people to flee their homes and resulting in over 750,000 internally displaced people country-wide. Chaos and fear have ruled the Central African Republic for months. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes for fear of being attacked. And they are living in crowded and unsanitary conditions in makeshift camps, exposed to the elements. Many have seen family members, friends and neighbors killed.

Catholic Relief Services is working with its partners in Central African Republic on an emergency response that will provide food and other critical assistance to thousands of families displaced by violence. CRS is also working with religious leaders and inter-religious youth groups to promote messages of peace and reconciliation.

Catholic Relief Services is the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

--Bob Howe

Friday, May 16, 2014

Careers in Ministry

Are you interested in learning more about a career in ministry?

C. Colt Anderson, Ph.D., the dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE), will host a discussion and Q&A for those interested in the field of ministry.

Careers in Ministry
Thursday, May 22, 2014
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Room 520 | Lowenstein Center | Lincoln Center Campus

Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP by May 19 to

For more info, click here.

— Joanna Klimaski

A Small Monument to Online-Inspired Kindness Rises at Rose Hill

In an age where Internet anonymity too often enables bullying, a small monument of online-inspired kindness appeared on the Rose Hill campus yesterday.

Over the past several months, the Facebook page Fordham Compliments has mounted a senior project to include anonymous student compliments to each and every graduating senior from Fordham College at Rose Hill, the Gabelli School, and Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Thanks to University wide support, the 150-foot banner of nearly 1900 positive statements – which were originally posted on the website -- went up yesterday in front of the McGinley Center.

The project was originally got its start in late 2012, when some Fordham students saw similar Facebook projects at Queens College in Ontario and other schools. The credit for the page’s success goes to hundreds of student participants who created the entries. The site had 750 friends in the first 24 hours of its 2012 creation, and today has more than 3800 friends.

The number of compliments posted on Facebook over the two years is well into the thousands and includes compliments to faculty, administrators, and campus staff as well as students The project was funded across the University -- from the Office of the Provost, the three undergraduate schools, the Fordham Fund, the University's Office of Marketing and Communications, and University Enrollment.

Check out the website here, where you can see many of the entries, and then check out the banner on the Rose Hill campus.

A Fordham Commencement Tradition

Archbishop Hughes receives his diploma.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Russo Lecture Features Theologian Esteemed by Pope Francis

Cardinal Walter Kasper and ethicist Cathleen Kaveny
Photo: Leo Sorel
Fordham's Center on Religion and Culture regularly presents programs that shed light on the complex relationship between religious faith and contemporary society. On May 5, it brought together two renowned theologians for an engaging talk on living a Gospel life.

The annual Russo Family Lecture—held at the Lincoln Center campus—featured Cardinal Walter Kasper, a theologian and former Vatican official, and Cathleen Kaveny, ethicist and legal scholar at Boston College. The topic was Cardinal Kasper’s new book, Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life (Paulist Press, 2014), which, on its cover, has a quote from Pope Francis: “This book has done me so much good.”

The director of the center, James McCartin, Ph.D., said he has long wanted to host the cardinal at one of its events because of the cardinal's "very persuasive approach to thinking about God and the Church, and especially his insights about not devaluing the importance of local communities of faith as they relate to the Holy See in Rome." McCartin was able to arrange the appearance because the cardinal was in town to publicize his book.

McCartin chose Kaveny to engage with the cardinal because he was well acquainted with her scholarly acumen, having known her since his graduate school days.
The discussion touched upon the work of Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham, according to an article from Religion News Service.

“They were just very natural and engaging . . . it was exactly what we aim for at the Center on Religion and Culture,” McCartin said.

You can watch the discussion in its entirety here.
                                                                                  -- Chris Gosier


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Revisiting the Relationship of a Lifetime

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell’s most most recent book of poems, Waking My Mother (Word Poetry, 2013) tackles the complexity of the often fraught relationships between mothers and daughters. O’Donnell, the associate director of the Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies,
grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania in a family of working-class Italian-Americans. Her mother, however, would “never submit to the yoke the old Italians typically placed on their women.”

Widowed at a young age with five children, Marion Salvi Alaimo took on some destructive habits, O’Donnell said, that led to emotional and financial hardships. “We essentially grew up in a household in which the parent-child relationship was adversarial and in which the children play the role of adults.”

Many of the poems in O’Donnell’s book reflect those years, in which she and her siblings often clung to each other in absence of any family stability parents are normally tasked with providing.

Alaimo said she wrote most of the poems four years ago when her 82-year-old mother took a turn for the worse after breaking her hip. “For 48 days, she was bed-bound in a Florida hospital, nursing home, and, finally, hospice room,” wrote O’Donnell. “During that time, my sisters and I cared for her. Ours had never been conventional mother-daughter relationships. Our mother had been a difficult person to live with, and we had had more than our share of bitter disagreements over the years.  But these 48 days proved to be a kind of Kairos time for us.  Her suffering broke us all open, enabling us to practice mercy, obtain mutual forgiveness, and experience healing of old wounds.”

She says the poems in Waking My Mother are an attempt to redeem the brokenness that characterized her relationship with her mother, “but consolation comes only through desolation.”

“The book tells our story—but it also tells the story of every family that has endured hardship and division yet still, somehow, has managed to remain whole.”

Poem on Waking (by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell)
Today I woke to talk with my mother.
Her face appeared clean as a dream,
erased of age and any trace of grief,
my mother as I wanted her to be.
She seemed to long to speak to me of love,
and I of mercies I had lately learned.
Her eyes smiled, although her mouth stayed closed,
as if all that need be, might be said through those.

I searched my purse and palmed my silent phone,
touched the icon box marked with her name—
then saw the stranger living in her house
and knew that she was gone, once again.
The voice I’m waiting for, still unheard.

For all my life, not one more word.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jesuit James Martin Answers Your Questions

On April 22, noted Jesuit writer James Martin, S.J., and distinguished Fordham University theologian Sister Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., engaged a group of alumni in an inspiring conversation to mark the publication of Father Martin’s new book, Jesus: A Pilgrimage (HarperOne, 2014). For the event, members of the audience submitted questions, but due to the great number of questions, not all of them could be answered that evening. Father Martin has kindly answered some of those questions for us:

You and Sr. Johnson spoke about how the Church is the reliquary of Christ and how we are to be the light of Christ today, but my question is: How are scientists, or college-level biology students, able to embody the light of Christ wherever we go?
First of all, it's important to remember, as almost everyone knows by now, that faith and reason are not inconsistent, and nor are science and religion. (In fact one of the great definitions of theology is St. Anselm’s “Faith seeking understanding.”) Scientists, and college-level biology students, can embody light of Christ much as anyone can--that is, by being good Christians.

But, more specifically, they might advance the message of Christ by reminding people, through their words and works, that the scientist can be a believer. Here I think of friends like Guy Consolmagno, S.J., and George Coyne, S.J., both astrophysicists who have worked at the Vatican Observatory. In their work, these two Jesuits often try to explain things like the Big Bang, creation, and astronomy from the vantage point of a believer. So anything one can do to rebut these notions that you cannot be a believer in the sciences is helpful.

In your historical scholarship do you believe that Jesus had brothers and sisters?
That's a good question! During my theology studies and graduate school, Father Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., was once asked whether that really meant “cousins.” No, said Father Harrington, there is a perfectly good Greek word in the New Testament for “cousins,” and the Gospels do not use it here. Catholic belief of course is that Mary was a perpetual virgin, and therefore had no other children after Jesus. For other denominations her having other children does not prove as much of a theological problem.

One way I like to think about it that these children (indeed “brothers” and “sisters” in Greek, not cousins) were children from a prior marriage of Joseph. At the time, it was probably more likely that Joseph was older than Mary, and so he could have been married before. To me it's more important to remember that Jesus had close relations with his extended family. We often think of Jesus as living almost in a vacuum, or interacting simply with Mary and Joseph. So the emphasis on "brothers and sisters" while hard to grasp, is nonetheless important.

If it is true that the Catholic Church is not gaining members, how do books like your Jesus and Sister Beth’s books get to folks who need them or could help them understand that Jesus was a really great man who was raised up and needs them to stay and fight for their Church—stay and reform?
Actually, the Catholic Church is gaining members. Overall the numbers are down but each year at the Easter Vigil people are baptized! My hope is that my book on Jesus will introduce people to the Son of God in a way that this is inviting and accessible, and in a way that shows that he wasn't just a really great man, as you rightly say, but also desires a personal relationship with them. That's part of what I try to remind people of by combining "Jesus of history" and the "Christ of faith." The "Jesus of history" is indeed a really great man, as anyone can see. But it’s more than that. Because the "Christ of faith" is the one who, risen and alive, invites them into their church. And desires a relationship with them.

Elizabeth Johnson’s books, by the way, are also written at an inviting and accessible way. She’s helped countless people find their way to God, understand Jesus and appreciate Mary—including me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recommended Consider Jesus or Truly Our Sister.

When Jesus answers Mary, he says “my time has not come yet.” Doesn’t that show he knows his identity/mission?
That's an excellent point. I hadn't thought about it quite in that way before. But you could also make the counterargument that his time has in fact come, because afterwards he performs a miracle. So if you raise the question about whether or not his time has come or not, it seems the Mary may know before he does. My sense, and this is purely speculative, is that Mary may have had more time is meditate on his unique identity and mission than he did. So at the Wedding Feast of Cana, in the Gospel of John, Mary is inviting him to embrace his identity, fully, perhaps earlier than he had planned to.

How can we reconcile the time frame of the Gospels with accuracy? Have you read the book that treats Jesus as a zealot?
The timetable for the Gospels is sometimes difficult to pin down. For example, the Gospel of John shows Jesus making at least three pilgrimages to Jerusalem, whereas the Synoptics have him going once. And the Infancy Narratives in Luke and Matthew also diverge. In some Gospels, stories happen at different places in Jesus’s life. But, for the most part, the Gospels agree on the basic sequence of Jesus’s life, and in fact there are “Gospel Parallel" books that try to harmonize the timetable.

And yes, I've read most of the book that treats Jesus is a zealot, and it was an interesting book in its own right (though I doubt he was, technically, a “zealot”) but of course left out “Christ of faith,” which is a pretty big omission.

How would you interpret the post-resurrected Jesus in the historical and spiritual context that you describe?
This is what I try to do the book at length. The Risen Christ is sometimes described as "trans-historical" or "non-historical" by theologians, but it's important to remember that he appeared to people in history. That is, he appeared to people in a particular time and in a particular place. So the risen Christ is in fact an historical reality.

Did Judas betray Jesus in the sense that Judas believed in Jesus as the political Messiah and believed that he would lead a revolt after the altercation in the Garden of Gethsemane?
The explanation you suggest is the one that makes the most sense to me. In my book, I sift through some of the proposed reasons for Judas's betrayal. First, he was greedy -- which doesn't make a lot of sense if he's traipsing around Judea and Galilee for all those years. Why would he lead such an itinerant, poor, mendicant life if he wanted to get rich fast? Second, "Satan entered into him." That's of course true, but what does that mean? One Scripture scholar told me it explains "either everything or nothing." Third, Judas was just a terrible guy. But that makes little sense: Jesus was a good judge of character; presumably he wouldn’t have chosen someone who was irredeemably bad.

But the idea that Judas may have wanted Jesus to be the kind of Messiah that Judas expected makes sense to me. That is, only that particular explanation explains why Judas felt so dejected that he hung himself. Judas wanted to create God in his image rather than to allow God to create Judas in his image.

Jesus talked about “the Kingdom of God”—how do you understand the Kingdom of God?
That's another significant part of my book. The kingdom of God, or reign of God (which is the better translation of the Greek, because it’s freed more from the confines of place), is difficult to understand. In effect Jesus made use of many parables and many stories to help people begin to understand what the reign was. But for the most part I think the reign of God is the world as God wants it to be, the world as it will be in the fullness of time, and the world as it is embodied in Jesus.

One of the best ways of understanding it is to see how the world was when Jesus was there. That is, when Jesus is in the world and encountering people, the sick are healed, storms are still, and the dead are raised. So I see the kingdom of God very much as embodied in Christ.

Which chapter was the hardest to write?
Actually, they were all enjoyable to write, but the one that perhaps took the most research was “Golgotha,” the chapter on Jesus's death. I wanted to get that timetable precisely right, and also be careful to remind people that it was the Romans who killed him, not the Jews. Only Pontius Pilate, as the procurator of Judea, had the power to condemn someone to death. It was also difficult to write because of the subject material—it was hard not to be sad when writing it.

The most enjoyable chapter to write, though, was “Nazareth” where I try to re-create the world of first century Galilee. I could've written that forever -- though I doubt anyone would've wanted to read a 300-page chapter!

Alumni Spotlight: 1984 Graduate Sets the Stage for Jubilee

For the weekend of May 30–June 1, hundreds and hundreds of Fordham alumni, friends, and family will converge on Rose Hill for the annual Jubilee reunion. At the forefront of the Class of 1984’s gathering will be Sally Benner, who is leading the efforts for fundraising and attendance for her 30th reunion.

“If I can be beneficial to Fordham … that’s something that I want to do,” says Benner of volunteering for Jubilee. “I don’t want to sit on the sidelines.”

Alongside her other Class of 1984 volunteers, Sean McCooe and Sue Walsh—with more classmates recently joining to help—Benner has been calling and e-mailing alumni to encourage them to return to the Rose Hill campus for Jubilee weekend: three days packed with dinners, cocktail parties, tours, lectures, class photos, Masses, a picnic, a Yankees game—and the always-popular Jubilee Gala on Saturday night.

She also has been inviting alumni to share their Fordham experience with future Rams by giving back to the University with a gift at the President’s Club level, which will help Fordham make a meaningful difference in the lives of current and future students by providing scholarships, financial aid, and general support.
Sally Benner, FCRH '84

“Working on Jubilee on the production side, I understand how much work goes into it,” says Benner, who has attended previous reunions. “It’s gotten more and more elegant each year.” And more and more popular: Jubilee attendance hit an all-time high in 2013 with nearly 2,000 Fordham alumni and family descending on the campus.

Benner has some familiarity with this kind of behind-the-scenes production work.

As a student at Fordham College at Rose Hill, she was a member of Mimes and Mummers, an extracurricular theater group that stages productions in Collins Auditorium. Benner participated in shows all four years, not only acting and singing, but also working off stage.

“I did makeup, sold tickets, but never built sets. I wasn’t allowed near a hammer!” she says. “It really [was like] Glee. It’s the same group of friendly people, but [with a] heavier course load and minus the parents.”

Benner carried on that experience and love for theater long after graduation. In 2004, she founded the Fordham University Mimes and Mummers Alumni Association, serving as its president for the first three years.

The association’s first large-scale event, its 150th anniversary celebration gala in 2006, drew approximately 150 alumni representing five decades. “No matter our age, it was the same stage, the same curtains—[that] united us across the years,” says Benner. “We knew how to work around the theater; it’s a place we were so fond of.”

Benner, the executive director of the New York Office of Development and Alumni Relations for Northwestern University, also spearheaded a campaign to raise $25,000 to replace the old manual light board system with a digital one in the Mimes’ home in Collins. At the 150th anniversary gala, the Mimes alumni association announced the successful completion of the campaign—which surpassed its goal by 12 percent.

“I knew the goodwill was there, the people would be there. We wanted to leave something behind [for the students],” Benner says. “Whenever we go back for shows, students are working with a good light board, and it’s what they should have.”

Benner first became interested in theater as a student at Nardin Academy, an all-girls Catholic school in Buffalo, New York, where she currently serves as a member of the board of trustees. She says she was a very shy child and “learned that if I learned to inhabit another character and use another person’s words, I couldn’t make a mistake. I had a rich imagination and [the theater] was a place of joy for me.”

Nardin Academy’s theater program collaborated with Canisus High School, the all-boys Jesuit school across the street. “That’s how I fell in love with the Jesuit tradition,” says Benner, and in part why she decided to attend Fordham. “The Bronx Jesuits welcomed me.”

After graduating from Fordham in 1984, Benner continued performing until she “outgrew it,” she says, but then found a way to still “use my imagination,” as a playwright. She earned a master’s degree in dramatic writing from New York University. When her career in higher education took off, “playwriting took the side road, [but] I’m always writing and attending theater. Broadway, off-Broadway, and of course, Mimes every year.”

This year, with another trip to the Rose Hill campus fast approaching, Benner is wistful about her student days. “My heart was on Edwards Parade or the cafeteria in McGinley Center,” she says. “Fordham was a little utopia for four years.”

She’ll soon be returning to the green oasis of Edwards Parade for the Jubilee reunion, where she is eager to reunite with her Fordham friends.

“If you realize that you’re only going to see each other every five years, it becomes momentous,” says Benner. “You can’t help but feel like you’re 18 years old again when you see each other, and the laughter makes me feel even better.”

—Rachel Buttner

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fordham Observer, a Better Newspaper

The Observer, the student-run newspaper at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, and its staff members recently won several awards from the New York Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.

The newspaper placed third in website design and print design in the college newspapers category of the New York Press Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Contest, and three staff members were honored as well. Ian McKenna, FCLC ’15, and Tayler Bennett,’14, placed first in the Editorial Writing category, and Tim Gavan, FCLC ’15, won first place in the Best News Story category.

The Society of Professional Journalists Region 1 Mark of Excellence Award went to two staff members: Ian McKenna, FCLC ’15, for general news photography, and Melanie Chamberlain, FCLC ’14, for photo illustration. Tyler Martins, FCLC ’15, was a finalist in feature writing; McKenna and Martins were finalists for online feature reporting. The SPJ awards were announced April 28.

“It's gratifying to see that more sections of The Observer than ever before have been recognized this year—news, features, editorials, layout, photo and multimedia," said Elizabeth Stone, Ph.D., a professor of English and communication and media studies who serves as the newspaper’s faculty adviser.

The Observer was founded in 1981 and circulates on both the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses.

-- Chris Gosier