Fordham Law Alumni Association Celebrates University President Fr. McShane at 73rd Annual Luncheon


During its 73rd Annual Luncheon on June 2, the Fordham Law Alumni Association presented Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham University, with its highest honor, the Medal of Achievement. Over 600 alumni, friends, and family attended the Luncheon, held at Cipriani’s on 42nd Street.

Father McShane, who will step down as president at the end of June 2022, has served as the 32nd president of Fordham University for 19 years, matching the record set by his predecessor, Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J. During his tenure, the University saw record-breaking advances in enrollment, the quadrupling of its endowment to more than $1 billion, and the transformation of the Lincoln Center campus and the opening of Fordham Law School’s new building in 2014. 

The Medal of Achievement award was presented by Dean Matthew Diller, who spoke about McShane’s many years of service at Fordham. 

“Father Shane has been our moral compass,” said Dean Diller. “He has inspired us to always look to our deeper humanity and our better selves, and motivated us to rise above our individual situations. At Fordham Law, our motto is ‘In the service of others.’ It’s the ethos behind everything that we do. And, for 19 years, no one has embodied that spirit better than Father McShane.”

(L-R) Dean Matthew Diller, Father Joseph M. McShane, Rep. Thomas Suozzi ’89

In his acceptance speech, Father McShane spoke about his long family ties to Fordham, including his father, brother, and niece, who are all alumni of the Law School, and reflected on his time at the helm of the University.

“I love the Law School, I revere it,” said Father McShane. “I count myself blessed and lucky to have been part of its story…I am more touched and honored than I can say for this medal, which I will treasure all the days of my life.”

Also honored at the ceremony was Paul Soden, FCRH ’65, LAW ’68, who received the Milton Fisher ’42 Second Harvest Award, presented to an alumnus who has celebrated their 50th reunion and has also “embodied the Law School’s highest ideals of excellence and has made exceptional contributions to society in the humanities, legal profession, business world, their community, and charitable affairs.” 

Soden is senior counsel at Thompson Hine and has had a long career in the corporate and securities fields, concentrating in general corporate and business law, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and securities law. He has taught as an adjunct professor of law in Fordham Law School’s legal writing department since 1999, and has been an active member of the Fordham Law community, as well as providing support—along with his wife Irene—for the Irene and Paul Soden Endowed Scholarship. 

(L-R) Paul Soden 68, Jessica Villanella 13, Kelly E. Herbert 15, and Dean Matthew Diller

The 2022 Rising Star Awards were presented to recent alumni working in three categories. Jessica Villanella ’13, vice president of employee relations and co-general counsel for the New York Mets, won the award in the in-house and business category; Annie Chen ’09, initiative director at the Center on Immigration and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice, won the award in the government, public interest and non-profit category; and Kelly E. Herbert ’15, an associate attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher won in the private practice category.

The event was the first luncheon to be held in-person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Palmina M. Fava ’97, president of the FLAA, acted as master of ceremonies and and thanked attendees for their support. “I’m so proud of the way all of you pulled together for the Law School, its students, and your broader communities, particularly over the last two years,” Fava said. She noted that the FLAA currently has 20,000 alumni in its network, as well as 32 national and international chapters, and 12 committee groups. “From New York to Nigeria, Miami to Milan, the Fordham Law alumni communities are dedicated to advancing Fordham Law and supporting each other.”


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