Fordham University was founded by Bishop John Hughes in 1841 as St. John’s College on what is now the Rose Hill Campus. Bishop Hughes sold the college to the Society of Jesus in 1846. St. John’s College became Fordham University in 1907 and has maintained its Jesuit tradition for 162 years although it is now an independent institution. Non-clergy first joined the board of trustees in 1969.
The Lincoln Center campus was opened in 1961, thanks to the efforts of Robert Moses, who secured land for the school when he was redeveloping that area of Manhattan. The Lincoln Center campus assimilated the law school and some undergraduate classes that had been going on downtown in the Woolworth’s building.
Fordham University is spread over three campuses in the New York area: the suburban Westchester campus in Harrison; the pretty Rose Hill campus in the Bronx; and the bustling Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan.
The Westchester campus is the newest of the college grounds. A three-story building sits atop the 32 landscaped acres complete with a stream and a picturesque pond. There are 26 brand-spanking-new classrooms with such high tech features as smart boards and teleconferencing.
The grassy Rose Hill campus is most like a typical college campus, with its Gothic architecture and pleasant outdoor spaces. When the weather is nice at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, life centers around Edward’s Parade, a large lawn in front of Keating Hall where students lounge and socialize. In the winter, students retreat indoors, to places like the McGinley Center, a campus center with food, offices, a bookstore, a post office, and a connection to the Lombardi Center, Rose Hill’s gym and home to basketball and volleyball. Murphy Field is the outdoor sports facility, where football, lacrosse, and rugby are played. Martyr’s Lawn, at the Third Avenue entrance to the campus, is used for alumni gatherings and festive events, and students often strike up a spontaneous game on the lawn as well. The campus is close to the Botanical Garden and Yankee Stadium; there is also a Metro North railroad stop right outside its gated entrance.
The bustling Lincoln Center campus is right in the heart of Manhattan. The campus is next to Lincoln Center, a premiere cultural destination, and many other important performing arts institutions are mere blocks away. The campus is also home to Fordham’s Law School. The main entrance is on 60th Street and Columbus Avenue, and the Pope Auditorium, Fordham’s performing arts venue, is right inside. St. Paul the Apostle, where the university’s religious events are held is just across the street.
University buildings are connected through an elevated courtyard, Robert Moses Plaza, on the second story of the buildings and basement tunnels. The grassy outdoor plaza is a focal point on the decidedly urban campus. The library, a rock garden, three theaters, and the visual arts department share the first floor below the Plaza. Students wishing to visit the other Fordham campus can take “the Ram Van” directly to and from Rose Hill.
Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus is located right in New York City and features a diverse, bustling atmosphere. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a mix of residential, commercial, and small business owners, there is always something going on around campus. Restaurants, cultural pursuits, movies, bars, shopping and much more are steps away. Students can also hop on the subway or bus and explore beyond their immediate area.
The Belmont section of the Bronx, where the Rose Hill campus is located, is known as the “Little Italy” of the borough. It is also close to the New York Botanical Garden and Yankee Stadium. Rich in history and tradition, the area is full of restaurants and shops that locals and students frequent alike. Students have also staked out their favorite local bars which they tend to take over on the weekends. The D Train and Metro North are available to take students into Manhattan or further afield.
The Ram Van runs between all campuses for those looking for a change in scenery.
One campus tradition is that when the football team wins a game, the whole team rings the Victory Bell outside of the gym. The tradition began during World War II to commemorate those who could not play in the game because they were off fighting the war, and it has continued ever since.
Every year there is a Spring Weekend, a time of concerts, face painting, and a dance party held underneath a tent. Many Fordham students consider it a rule to begin drinking at sunrise on Saturday and continue until sunset on Sunday.
Alan Alda (1956) is an Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning actor.
William J. Casey (1934) was head of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Reagan.
Mary Higgins Clark (1979)is a best-selling mystery author.
Vince Lombardi (1937) was a professional football player and coach.
Denzel Washington (1977) is an Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning actor and director.
The Fordham Rams are part of the NCAA Division I and compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference in every sport but football, in which they play in the Division I Patriot League. The Rams football team won the Patriot League title in 2007. As reported by Tom Zuppa ’09, “Fordham football has the longest tradition at the university, having recently celebrated 125 years of excellence. Vince Lombardi and his fellow ‘Seven Blocks of Granite’ (the offensive line) became famous at Fordham. The men’s basketball team also has a great following as loyal fans packs the Rose Hill Gym (the oldest Division I gym in the country) and is also known to follow the team to games as far as Rhode Island.”
The Fordham women’s basketball team is also popular, as is the volleyball squad. There are many ways to enjoy athletics at Fordham. Zuppa notes, “Intramural sports are competitive and very popular for both athletic students and those just looking for fun.”
Fordham’s colors are maroon and white, but they used to be magenta. At the time, Harvard had the same color. They played a series of baseball games, with the agreement being that the winner of the series would get to keep the school color to itself. Harvard lost, but continued using the color anyway. Fordham eventually changed its official color to maroon, and Harvard later changed its color from magenta to crimson.
Fordham’s Rose Hill campus is frequently used in movies: A Beautiful Mind, Kinsey, A Bronx Tale, and the Exorcist are just some of the movies filmed there. The music video for Ashanti and Fat Joe’s “What’s Luv” was also shot on the campus.
The William Spain Seismic Observatory measured China’s first atomic explosion in 1964.
Rose Hill in the Bronx and Lincoln Center in Manhattan have housing, and a little over half of Fordham undergrads live in the dorms. Since much of Fordham’s student body is from the five boroughs and surrounding areas, others live at home and commute or get their own apartments. University housing is guaranteed for all four years, and facilities get fairly high marks from the students.
Rose Hill offers thirteen different housing options, some in the surrounding Belmont community and others on campus. Those off-campus options are furnished apartments for upperclassmen in the Bronx’s historic “Little Italy” section. On-campus housing mostly splits between freshmen and upperclassmen, though there is some limited mixing. Halls that are co-ed are separated by wing or floor by sex.
Lincoln Center’s McMahon Hall houses more than 700 students in two to three bedroom furnished apartments. They are equipped with stove and oven, refrigerators, and a common area. Rooms can be single, double or triple. Freshmen generally have doubles or triples.