A funeral Mass was celebrated July 26 for Jesuit Father Vincent T. O’Keefe, who was the 27th president of the Fordham University, at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Manhattan. Father O’Keefe, who headed the Jesuit-run university from 1963 until 1965, died July 22 after a long illness. He was 92. Burial was at the Jesuit cemetery in Auriesville.
“Today Fordham lost one of its heroes,” Jesuit Father Joseph M. McShane, Fordham’s current president, said in a statement issued the same day his predecessor died. “Father O’Keefe was a man of vision, integrity, and humor: though his tenure as president was relatively short, Fordham would not be the university it is today without his influence.
“I know the Fordham community joins with me in holding Father O’Keefe’s family, friends, and colleagues in their thoughts and prayers.”
During his tenure as president, Father O’Keefe – after whom O’Keefe Commons is named – worked to incorporate women into the then all-male student body. “At that time, only men were allowed at Fordham,” Father O’Keefe said in a 2009 interview with The Ram. “We wanted them to see that women were first-class citizens and had great minds, too.”
Prior to becoming president, Father O’Keefe was academic vice president, 1960-63. He was Fordham’s president during the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1965, he was elected assistant “ad providentiam” to the newly elected superior general, Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe. In 1975, he became general assistant and general counselor to Father Arrupe. He later served in Father Arrupe’s place as vicar general during the superior general’s illness.