The New York City air is crisp and clear and tinged with possibility on this final day of August, undoubtedly because it is the first day of classes at Fordham! The Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses are excitedly gearing up for the long-awaited Dodransbicentennial, otherwise known as the 175th anniversary of Fordham University. It is appropriate, then, to highlight a book that hits particularly close to home over at the Fordham University Press, Fordham, A History of the Jesuit University of New York: 1841-2003 by Thomas J. Shelley.
The hardcover volume is a thoroughly researched, informative, and thoughtful history of Fordham University through its evolution from a small diocesan college into one of the most well-known Jesuit Universities in the country. Shelley, an emeritus member of the Fordham faculty, was invited by the current president of the University, Rev. Joseph McShane, SJ, to compose this history of the University which traces Fordham from its beginnings in 1841 up to 2003, the end of Rev. Joseph O’Hare, SJ’s presidency.
Shelley masterfully strikes a balance between writing about Fordham with the affection and reverence typical to those who have spent any length of time here, as well as with the candid transparency necessary to produce an authentic, complex history of an established, multi-faceted institution. This means highlighting Fordham’s academic and cultural achievements as well as acknowledging areas in which challenges and obstacles exist. For example, the shrinking number of Jesuit administrators and faculty poses an ongoing challenge to Fordham’s dedication to truly embody the Jesuit tenants embedded in its mission and identity. This 491-page volume is an exciting and timely read, given the Dodransbicentennial and back-to-school excitement that has flooded campus, and certainly will not disappoint.