Fordham University has a long and illustrious history that dates back to 1841, when it was established as St. John's College by the coadjutor bishop of Irish origin (later archbishop) of the diocese of New York, John Hughes. This makes it the third oldest university in New York State and the first Catholic institution of higher education in the Northeastern United States. When John Hughes founded Fordham as St.
John's College, it was considered a “daring and dangerous” endeavor, as it initially lacked the funds to purchase the land on which it envisioned a large university taking root. In 1886, the university constructed a science building, which gave more legitimacy to science in the curriculum; on June 24, 1891, a commemorative copper statue of Bishop Hughes, which still stands today just west of the Cuniffe House, was presented to the university. Fordham football was played on some of the most renowned sporting venues, including games in front of sold-out crowds at the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium, an appearance in the Cotton Bowl and a victory in the Sugar Bowl, in addition to producing the famous Seven Blocks of Granite (including Vince Lombardi). On June 21, 1904, with the consent of the regents of the State University of New York, the board of trustees authorized the opening of a law school and medical school. McGinley, SJ, president of Fordham, asked Robert Moses, New York City's master planner and power broker par excellence, if Fordham could rent five floors in the new Colosseum office building to be built on Columbus Circle. News and World Report ranked Fordham Law School 28th out of 179 law schools across the country, and the Graduate School of Social Work 11th out of 127 such programs across the country. In 1935, disaster struck when the Association of American Universities removed Fordham from its list of approved institutions.
Fordham made great strides in achieving its goal of becoming a national institution and not a local or regional institution during Joseph O'Hare's nineteen-year presidency. In 1972, 72 percent of Fordham college students traveled daily; twenty years later, 70 percent of Fordham students lived on campus. In the late 1920s, Fordham became a kind of graduate diploma mill, awarding more master's and doctorate degrees than any other Catholic university in the country, despite having inadequate library facilities and eighty percent of its 600 graduate students being part-time students. A major milestone in Fordham University's development took place with the establishment of its Lincoln Center campus in the 1960s. Between 1905 and 1920, Fordham gradually assumed the dimensions of a genuine university with the establishment of a Faculty of Pharmacy (which closed in 1997) and at least the foundations for seven graduate schools—not only medicine and law but also Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Social Work, Graduate School of Education and Graduate School of Business Administration (now known as Gabelli School of Business). On April 10th 1846 with consent from New York State Legislature regents, Fordham's board authorized opening a law school and medical school. Under Dean John Feerick's direction—a native South Bronx resident—Fordham Law School sponsored a series of initiatives and research centers for local community benefit.
Moylan—originally from Ireland—taught at Fordham in 1851 before moving to teach in San Francisco (California), then returned to New York in 1864. Marymount College—an independent women's college founded by Sisters Sacred Heart Mary 1907—was consolidated into Fordham 2002. The process was often difficult due to lack resources; lack libraries laboratories; lack rich generous former student; heavy teaching burden teaching staff made difficult them participate creative scholarship modern university requires professors.