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Fordham University’s Donna Rapaccioli to Step Down as Dean of Gabelli School of Business Following a 15-Year Tenure in Academic Excellence for Business with Purpose

June 22, 2022 GMT

New York, New York, June 22, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- After more than 15 years of distinguished service, Dean Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., will be stepping down as dean of the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University, effective June 30, 2022. Following her highly successful tenure as the leader of the Gabelli School, Rapaccioli will return to a faculty position within the school and devote herself anew to teaching, learning and research.

In May, Fordham University President Rev. Joseph P. McShane, S.J., celebrated the influence Rapaccioli has had on the Gabelli School by naming her dean emerita, and her work has solidified the school’s business program as a leader in the principles of environmental, social and governance standards (ESG). A Fordham alumna herself, Rapaccioli led the unification of Fordham’s undergraduate and graduate business schools in 2015 to form the high-functioning Gabelli School of Business, named after Mario Gabelli, a 1965 Fordham business graduate, following a pivotal donation from Mr. Gabelli, Regina Pitaro, a 1976 Fordham graduate, and the Gabelli Family Foundation. Significant growth in business enrollments at the undergraduate and graduate levels occurred under Rapaccioli’s leadership. In 2015, Rapaccioli launched the school’s first doctoral programs: a Ph.D. program, and a Doctor of Professional Studies program that trains international executives in the foundational principles of academic business research.


The reputation and standing of the Gabelli School has been on a steady upward trajectory during Rapaccioli’s tenure. The full-time MBA program went from unranked in the US News & World Report to its current position of #64. The school holds seven top-25 academic area rankings in US News, and the undergraduate program is currently ranked #22 by Poets & Quants. Within the business education marketplace, true to the tenets of Jesuit education, Fordham has become widely recognized as a flagship institution promoting responsible and sustainable business. The Gabelli School’s culture of high-quality, high-impact research is evidenced by faculty members publishing more than 400 refereed journal articles in the last 5 years, with nearly 75 appearing in the Financial Times top-50.

Donna Rapaccioli’s role at the Gabelli School of Business has positively impacted students, faculty, and alumni alike through her unwavering dedication to the university. Additionally, during her time at Fordham as dean, Rapaccioli has:

● Led the Transformation of the Gabelli School’s Core Business Programs: In her role as the dean, Rapaccioli initiated the development and oversaw implementation of
the undergraduate integrated core as well as applied learning opportunities, including the Ground Floor, which provides first-year students with a holistic view of business management and sustainable business practices. Under her leadership and guidance, the Gabelli School also launched three online MS programs, redesigned the PMBA curriculum, and expanded the school’s STEM programs. These initiatives and more have led to a 20% increase in student enrollment in the past decade while
Rapaccioli served as dean.

● Established a Commitment to Business with Purpose, Social Good and Innovation: Rapacciolis emphasis on ESG standards at the Gabelli School has created an academic environment for students and professionals to engage with and implement sustainable business practices. The Responsible Business Coalition, an incubator for modern business leaders to collaborate on actionable change, and the Fordham Social Innovation Collaboratory (a network of students, faculty and alumni promoting social innovation) have allowed students and faculty to further practice the work of implementing ESG standards in business. Fordham was also named an AshokaU
Changemaker Campus and the Gabelli School earned distinction as a UN PRME champion institution. With this deep commitment to better business practices, Rapaccioli
has established more than 85 corporate collaborations in support of student learning, co-curricular activities, and faculty research, and has raised $100 million for business education.


● Fostered a Culture of Community and Care for Students: Rapaccioli’s student- centered approach has created a collaborative space for both students and faculty
members. Her commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging led to the establishment of the Gabelli School’s first DEI team. Her time to solicit student feedback to continuously ensure the college experience is the best it can be has led to meaningful improvements across campus from supporting students’ mental health concerns to building a vast network of alumni to strengthen students’ career opportunities post- graduation. With Rapaccioli’s work, undergrad placement rates are at 96% and internship placement rates are at 98% (based on Class of 2021 data)


“It has been an honor to share in the accomplishments of the Gabelli School’s faculty and students. I’ll look back on their successes — and impacts on society — as the most rewarding part of my tenure as dean,” Rapaccioli said. “It’s been humbling and inspiring to be immersed in the culture of compassion and teamwork that defines the Gabelli School. When the time comes, I’m looking forward to returning to my roots as a faculty member within the Gabelli School alongside the compassionate global business leaders of tomorrow.”

Following Dean Rapaccioli’s departure, Lerzan Aksoy, Ph.D., current professor and associate dean in the Gabelli School, will serve as interim dean beginning July 1, 2022. Aksoy has served in the dean’s office for the past seven years, leading undergraduate studies and strategic initiatives.


A national search for the next dean of the Gabelli School of Business will commence in the fall. It’s anticipated that Fordham Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dennis Jacobs will appoint a candidate by July 1, 2023. To learn more about Donna Rapaccioli and her accomplishments at Fordham University, please visit

Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University
Founded in 1920, the mission of the Gabelli School of Business is to inspire and empower positive global change, developing students into compassionate business leaders and supporting faculty and students in the ongoing generation of new knowledge. The Gabelli School’s vision is to become a world leader in social innovation by inspiring and equipping its graduates to be business leaders who understand the challenges in sustainability facing businesses and the potential harnessing of the power of social responsibility for both financial success and societal impact.

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