NEW YORK—It’s been a busy few months for search committees at Fordham University. New deans have been hired for Fordham College at Rose Hill, the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In addition, an interim dean has been appointed to lead the Graduate School of Education.
Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., former professor of English at Loyola College in Maryland, is the new dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH). The first lay person to serve as dean of FCRH, O’Donnell is an authority on Jesuit higher education, having served as editor of the magazine Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education; a board member of Collegium, a consortium of Catholic colleges and universities that sponsors summer institutes on faith and intellectual life; and a member of the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education.
“An extraordinarily gifted educator, Dr. O’Donnell brings to the University a wealth of experience and a desire to build on and to enhance the tradition of excellence that is our heritage,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University. “He has been a leading voice in the national dialogue regarding Jesuit ideals and higher education, and we are fortunate that he will bring his insight and perspective to Fordham.”
O’Donnell—who succeeded Jeffery P. von Arx, S.J., now president of Fairfield University, on July 1—directed the honors program at Loyola, which required regular interaction with students, something he will continue to do at Fordham.
“The real challenge will be finding ways to break down the boundaries between academic and student life,” said O’Donnell. “It’s important to create a culture on campus where people are out doing things and that the dean is visible at those events.”
The new dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, Reverend Anthony J. Ciorra, Ph.D., comes to Fordham from the College of Saint Elizabeth in Convent Station, N.J., where he served as director of the Center for Theological and Spiritual Development, as a professor of theology and as the college chaplain.
At Saint Elizabeth’s, Father Ciorra was instrumental in restructuring the Office of Ministry, which focused solely on lay ministry formation, into the vibrant Center for Theological and Spiritual Development, which offers numerous programs, including pastoral conferences, six certificate programs, distance learning initiatives, and a summer institute in theology, spirituality and scripture that attracts more than 700 students.
In recognition of his outstanding service to Saint Elizabeth’s, Father Ciorra was awarded the Caritas Centennial Award in 2000. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (for the Church and the Pope) award, which he received from Pope John Paul II in 1998, in recognition of his dedication and service to the church. Father Ciorra succeeded Vincent M. Novak, S.J., who retired this summer.
Dominic J. Balestra, Ph.D., the new dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a newly created position, has been a member of the Fordham community since 1975. He served three years as president of the Faculty Senate and three terms as chair of the Department of Philosophy. He also served as a member of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Advisers for the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center.
“The challenge for me in this new role is to work with the respective deans of Fordham’s Arts and Sciences schools to cultivate the faculty in their academic work,” said Balestra, “so that we can enrich the vibrant intellectual life that is American and Ignatian and Catholic and Fordham.”
James J. Hennessy, Ph.D., the interim dean of the Graduate School of Education, has been a member of the Fordham community since 1978. He has served as both the vice chair and chair of the Division of Psychological and Educational Services, and as the coordinator of counseling programs. He replaced Regis Bernhardt, Ph.D., who left to take a position as dean of the College of Education at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.