Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., a native New Yorker who returned to serve as president of Fordham University in 2003, announced last week he would step down as president in June after 19 years in the post.
His last day as president will be June 30, 2022.
Father McShane’s tenure as president would match that of his immediate predecessor, Father Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., for longest in the Jesuit university’s 180-year history. (Father O’Hare died last year.)
Highlights of his term—enrollment advances, campus expansions and new academic programs—elevated Fordham’s standing.
Father McShane announced his decision in a Sept. 2 letter addressed to “members of the Fordham community,” saying that he made it after “a great deal of prayer, reflection and consultation.”
He said accomplishments during his presidency have been “the result of uncommon teamwork, a shared dream and a deep devotion to the values that Fordham has always stood for and from which it has derived its strength.”
When he steps down, Father McShane will have served Fordham for a quarter-century, including his six years as dean of Fordham College in the Bronx and theology professor at the university from 1992 to 1998.
“If you press me on the timing of my decision and departure, I would merely say as Father O’Hare said so succinctly 19 years ago: ‘It’s time. It’s just time.’ It’s time to step aside and allow someone else to have the great joy of leading Fordham into the future,” Father McShane wrote.
Robert Daleo, chair of Fordham’s board of trustees, in a message to the university community, cited Father McShane’s “unbridled energy, pastoral care, long devotion and deep wisdom.”
“We are deeply grateful for all he has done for the university and its students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents,” he said.
Before his return to Fordham, Father McShane served as president of Jesuit-run University of Scranton in Pennsylvania from 1998 to 2003.
Father McShane grew up in the Marble Hill section of Manhattan, the northernmost tip of the borough. He attended St. John’s School in Kingsbridge, the Bronx, and Regis High School in Manhattan before entering the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1967. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1977.
He holds a doctorate in the history of Christianity from the University of Chicago.
Although Father McShane did not attend Fordham as a student, his father was a member of the first Fordham College graduating class in 1932 (it was called St. John’s College before then), and went on to Fordham Law School.
Two of his three brothers graduated from Fordham College and the third from Fordham Law School.
“Fordham breathed life into their dreams and formed their lives in powerful ways,” Father McShane said. “Through their stories and the example of their lives, I came to understand the transformative power of the Jesuit education they received here. Therefore, as I said, the decision to step down was a hard one to make.”