Next Fordham President Will Not Be a Jesuit


As most members of the Fordham community will note, on Friday, Jan. 21, the Office of the University Secretary made an announcement regarding the search committee’s success in “attracting a diverse, talented and accomplished pool of leadership candidates.” One area in which the candidates have not been diverse: their membership in the Society of Jesus. That’s right, the Jesuit University of New York will not be having a Jesuit serving as its next president.

Taking this into account, we at The Fordham Ram have put some thought into what we hope for most from the future presidential candidate, and how a layperson’s presidency affects that.

A layperson taking on the role opens up many possibilities for the president’s background that otherwise would be extremely unlikely. This may lead to a period of great change for Fordham University, another end of an era combined with the natural “fresh start” of a new president. For example, this opens up the possibility of a female president. This may be surprising considering the demographics of leadership roles, but women  make up 50% of the world’s population. Isn’t it about time half the world’s population, and, incidentally, 65% of the Class of 2025, see themselves represented in Fordham’s leadership?

Further, we welcome the possibility of a president with professional experience outside of academia, as we at The Fordham Ram value nothing more than a diversity of opinion, and are intrigued by the possible new ideas that could be gained from a president with past experiences in other professional fields.

However, these are all largely incidental compared to what we hope for most from the new president. 

The first priority — and what we believe would be the greatest benefit for the university — is a president who is accessible to the student population. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a younger candidate, as we are well aware of the breadth of personal and professional experience necessary for the responsibilities of the position. What truly matters for accessibility is a candidate in alignment with not only the values of the Jesuit mission but the values of the student population. We at the Ram believe it is vital for the future president to be tolerant, accepting and  willing to engage with the perspectives of Fordham’s remarkably diverse student body. Beyond the population of Fordham’s students, we are anxious to learn whether the 33rd president will be a native New Yorker, or even a native of the Bronx.

It’s important to us that our next president embody the ideals of service to the community and social justice, and a president that is engaged with and cares for Fordham’s surrounding community would be a large part of that. It has been reiterated by many in the Fordham community that Rose Hill should not be an island in the Bronx. The slogan “New York is my Campus” applies just as much to those of us with a sizable campus in Rose Hill as it does to our Lincoln Center cousins in the thick of Manhattan. 

Though we have full faith in the wisdom of the search committee and the Board of Trustees to bring on the presidential candidate best-suited to serve Fordham University’s interests, we have written here what we hope to see in a layperson president. Therefore, we, and hopefully the rest of the student body, await anxiously to hear of more news from the committee.