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Actor Joe Morton to Teach at Fordham

Fordham Mourns Founder of GRE

Actor Joe Morton to Teach at Fordham

Joe Morton

Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons


Tony-nominated veteran stage, television, and film actor Joe Morton has been appointed the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair for Theatre for 2012.

Morton, a native New Yorker who studied drama at Hofstra University, had his first big hit in 1984, when he starred in John Sayles’ The Brother from Another Planet. A constant presence in the acting world since the late ’60s, he has acted in films such as Of Mice and Men, Forever Young, Terminator 2, and Speed. A role in the 1974 Broadway musical Raisin earned him a Tony nomination and a Theatre World award.

Morton spent his early childhood in Europe, where his father was stationed as an Army intelligence officer. When he returned to live in Harlem, children picked on him because of his foreign accent. The experience led Morton to comment in the New York Times, “Race prejudice has nothing to do with color. It has to do with being the stranger.”

Morton follows Phylicia Rashad as the inaugural holder of the chair, which was established last year with a $2 million gift from Denzel Washington, FCLC ’77. During the fall semester, he will teach the theater course, Creating a Character.

— Patrick Verel




Fordham Mourns Founder of GRE

Vincent M. Novak, S.J.


The Fordham University community mourned the loss on Aug. 6 of Vincent M. Novak, S.J., the first dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE), and a pioneer of post-Vatican II religious education.

Father Novak’s 40-year career cultivating Fordham’s first graduate program in religion stemmed from his early desire to rethink religious education.

In 1957, as a religion teacher at Fordham Prep, he voiced his concern with the curriculum to his Jesuit superiors. With their blessing, he journeyed to Paris, Holland, and Brussels to learn new ways to communicate Catholic teaching to young people.

He returned to Fordham in 1959 with his ideas to revolutionize religious education.

Along with his brother Joseph Novak, S.J., and John Nelson, Ph.D., Father Novak established the Graduate Institute of Religious Education in 1964, which offered a master’s degree in religious education.

The Institute eventually led to the creation of GRE in 1975.

Today, nearly 50 years after its founding, GRE features a comprehensive curriculum—with courses in education, sociology, psychology, and pastoral counseling. The school offers three master’s programs, two doctoral programs, two certificate programs, and two fully online master’s programs.

Father Novak retired as dean of GRE in 2004. He was a native of Jersey City, N.J.

— Joanna Klimaski





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