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Feerick Center Honors Father Joseph O’Hare

Fordham Marches in Columbus Day Parade

Fordham Gets Recognition for “Closing the Gap”

Study Links Hibernation Habits to Bat-Killing Disease

Feerick Center Honors Father Joseph O’Hare

Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., left, received the George J. Mitchell Lifetime Public Service Award on Sept. 24; pictured with Dean Michael M. Martin, center, and John D. Feerick.

Photo by Ben Asen


Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., president emeritus of Fordham University, was honored on Sept. 24 at Fordham Law School’s second annual Feerick Center for Social Justice Awards & Benefit Reception, at Mutual of America in New York City.

The center presented Father O’Hare with the George J. Mitchell Lifetime Public Service Award. A founding member of the board of advisors of the Feerick Center since its creation in 2006, Father O’Hare was also the longest-serving president in the history of Fordham University (1984-2003), one who strengthened every part of the institution during his tenure. 

Earlier in his career Father O’Hare served on the faculty of several educational institutions, and was editor-in-chief of America, the Jesuit weekly magazine of news and opinion. An avid volunteer for civic organizations, he was the founding chairman of New York City’s Campaign Finance Board, where he served for 10 years.

“He has advised, shaped and inspired the work of the center to provide access to justice for New York’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Michael M. Martin, dean of the Law School.

— Patrick Verel



Fordham Marches in Columbus Day Parade

Students, faculty, and administrators march with Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, in New York City’s annual Columbus Day Parade up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Oct. 8, 2012. Mario Gabelli, GSB ’65, acted as this year’s grand marshal.



Fordham Gets Recognition for “Closing the Gap”

Fordham University has been named by the Education Trust as one of the nation’s top private universities for “closing the gap” between white and Hispanic college graduates, the organization announced on Sept. 20.

The University earned a rank of No. 19 among the top 25 universities, based on data that showed that the graduation rates of Fordham’s 13.2 percent Hispanic full-time students rose significantly over a six-year period—from 69 percent in 2004 to 75 percent in 2010.

That rise moved Hispanic students closer to the average graduation rate among Fordham’s majority white undergraduate population, which held steadily over the same six-year period at just under 80 percent.

The good show among Fordham Hispanic undergraduates nabbed the University a mention in the Trust’s latest publication, Advancing to Completion: Increasing Degree Attainment by Improving Graduation Rates and Closing Gaps for Hispanic Students.

Nationwide, the study cites a 14-point gap between Hispanic and white student graduation rates across educational institutions.

Established in 1996, the Education Trust is a Washington, D.C.-based education advocacy group that works for high academic achievement for all students, pre-kindergarten through college, with particular emphasis on closing the gaps in opportunity that exist for many low-income students. Their latest effort spotlights colleges that are “producing better results” by narrowing the graduation rate gaps between white students and students of color.

“Colleges must do more to ensure success for all students, particularly the growing number of black and Latino students in our country. Thankfully, some institutions are showing us that the status quo is not inevitable,” said José Cruz, the organization’s vice president for higher education policy and practice. “The schools we’ve identified provide vivid signposts on the road to boosting graduation rates at colleges and universities across the country.”



Study Links Hibernation Habits to Bat-Killing Disease

These bats in a cave have white nose syndrome.


In April of 2008, Craig Frank, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology and a mammalian ecologist, was giving a lecture at Albany’s New York State Museum when officials from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation approached him.

They were alarmed by erratic behavior of bats resulting from white nose syndrome, a fungus that grows on the nose, wings, and ears of bats, and they wanted his help.

“Basically, they asked me to come with them on the spot,” Frank said.

Within days, Frank was standing in a mine with state biologists examining ground zero for what was becoming an epidemic decimating the bat population in the Northeastern United States.

Today, it is estimated that 95 percent of the state’s affected species are already wiped out, a rate that could make some Northeastern bats extinct within less than two decades.

Because nearly 70 bat habitats in the state are closely monitored every two to three years, biologists discovered the problem early. White nose syndrome was discovered in the Albany-Kingston area, when bats that should have been hibernating deep in the caves and mines were staying close to openings, and flying outside during the daytime.

Behaviorally speaking, “all hell was breaking loose,” said Frank.

The National Science Foundation and other sources funded two bat studies, one in which Frank was principal investigator, and a second in which he was a co-principal investigator.

The studies found that the fungus is killing the bats by arousing them early from their torpor. The disruptions, said Frank, burn an inordinate amount of body fat, which bats need to survive the hibernation period.

Normally, bats sleep from 15 to 20 days at a time during hibernation. When the fungus was more severe, they woke up more frequently—sometimes as often as every seven days.

“Bats eat insects and there aren’t any insects until April,” said Frank. “Because they were coming out every seven days, they depleted their body fat reserves by late January or February, flying around looking for insects when there weren’t any.”

Frank is continuing to research white nose syndrome, but has narrowed his focus to just two species of New York’s bat population: the little brown bat and the big brown bat.

The studies’ findings have been published in Living in a Seasonal World (Springer, 2012), and in the June 2012 edition of Public Library of Science One.

— Tom Stoelker





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