Just two days after New York City was blanketed in orange haze due to wildfires in Canada, the air cleared, and on June 9, more than 600 Fordham alumni gathered on the Lincoln Center campus for the annual Block Party reunion in the heart of Manhattan.
“It is an astonishing thing that Fordham has this location at the center of everything,” Fordham President Tania Tetlow told attendees. “The epicenter of the global economy, the center of so much media, of arts and culture, of business, of everything you can imagine.”
The alumni who gathered—from Fordham College at Lincoln Center, the Gabelli School of Business, the Graduate School of Education, the Graduate School of Social Service, and the School of Professional and Continuing Studies—spanned generations and spoke of the lasting impact of their time at Fordham.
“This is a place with many happy memories and a place that really changed my life—my husband, my career, my lifelong friends,” said Karen Ninehan, a teacher and former school principal who earned a bachelor’s degree from Fordham College at Lincoln Center in 1974.
When she decided to go into administration, she returned to campus to earn a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Education in 2000. “I knew this was the place where I would get the best of everything,” she said.
As Ninehan and other guests arrived Friday evening, they had the opportunity to hear some live jazz in Pope Auditorium, thanks to a group made up of two music professors, four students, and Walter Blanding, a tenor saxophonist with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. They attended school- and club-specific receptions across campus before coming together on the plaza for food, drinks, and dancing well into the evening.
Reconnecting with Those Who ‘Helped You on Your Journey’
Margot Reid, GABELLI ’21, said she was especially excited for this year’s celebration—in part because as a member of Fordham’s Young Alumni Committee, she had had a hand in planning it.
“It’s something I look forward to—it’s like a big event of the season,” said Reid, who is a marketing associate at ESPN. “It’s nice to see and connect with everybody.”
Matthew Leone, FCLC ’17, another member of the Young Alumni Committee, was attending his first reunion. “I’m coming back just to find some sense of normalcy again and just to rekindle everything,” said Leone, who finished grad school at American University this spring and is working as an immigration paralegal. “I love seeing this different side of Fordham.”
Harleny Vasquez, GSS ’18, a social work career coach and the founding CEO of yourEVOLVEDmind, was among the featured speakers at the Graduate School of Social Service reception, which highlighted the diverse range of careers and opportunities open to MSW graduates.
“GSS did a wonderful job of teaching us our social work foundation,” said Vasquez, who received the GSS Alumni Service Award in recognition of her work with the school’s graduating students. “You hold the power to utilize your social work degree to design the career you desire.”
For Abigail Brown, Julian Goldstein, and Alice Wong, who bonded more than a decade ago in the Gabelli School’s executive MBA program, Block Party was a chance to reconnect and reminisce about their experiences.
Brown, who graduated in 2014 and now works for General Motors as a future retail development manager, said that she not only enjoys networking with fellow alumni but also catching up with faculty and staff.
“It’s really good to see where people are at, and to connect with old deans and faculty members who helped you on your journey,” she said. “It’s inspiring. That’s the word I always leave here with—inspiring.”
Paying Tribute to Influential Faculty and Advisors
At its alumni reception, Fordham College at Lincoln Center honored two retiring faculty members—English professor Anne Hoffman, Ph.D., and economics professor Janis Barry, Ph.D. Members of the Class of 1973 were inducted as Golden Rams, and there were special shout-outs to the Silver Rams of the Class of 1998 and other graduates celebrating milestone reunions.
“It’s really exciting because it brings back a lot of my classmates, and especially since this is our 20th reunion, we have a really good showing,” said Samara Finn Holland, FCLC ’03, a member of the Fordham University Alumni Association Advisory Board. “I think that makes this year stand out above the rest.”
Nearby, more than 20 alumni who worked on The Observer, the award-winning student newspaper at the Lincoln Center campus, gathered to catch up and honor Molly Bedford and Anthony Hazell, FCLC ’06, who stepped down last year as the paper’s visual and editorial advisors, respectively, after seven years.
And at the Graduate School of Education reception, retiring professor Margo A. Jackson, Ph.D., received the Dr. Kathryn I. Scanlon Award for her service and commitment to the University since 1999.
‘Fordham Was the Difference in Your Life’
This year marked the first Block Party for Fordham President Tania Tetlow, who spoke at various receptions across campus and also addressed a group of the University’s loyal donors at a cocktail reception in Platt Court.
“I love hearing the stories of how many of you feel like Fordham was the difference in your life,” she said, “the investment and opportunity that gave you the launch to everything that you wanted to do, and helped embed the desire in you to matter to the world.”
—Tanya Hunt, Kelly Prinz, and Connor White contributed to this story.