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Fordham Mourns Loss of Bill Small, former business school dean

Announcements | May 26, 2020 |

Bill Small, dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Business Administration from 1992-1994, had a six-decade career in the news industry. Photos courtesy of: National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

William Small, former president of NBC News and United Press International, former Washington bureau chief for CBS News, and dean of Fordham’s Graduate business school from 1992-1994, died May 25, 2020, at age 93, following a brief illness unrelated to coronavirus.

Small, originally from Chicago, Il., had a six-decade career in the media industry. At CBS, he oversaw a team of journalists from 1962-1974 who would lead political coverage in the U.S. through the turbulent times of the Vietnam War and Watergate. As CBS noted, the roster included veteran reporters such as Dan Rather, and new hires Bob Schieffer and Bill Moyers, who would become legendary media figures. Small also championed the hiring of women such as Lesley Stahl, Diane Sawyer, Connie Chung and others.

Before serving as dean, he was Fordham’s Distinguished Felix E. Larkin Professor and director of the Center for Communications at the Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA) from 1986-1997. Small received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Fordham in 2003 and continued to take courses in the University’s “College at 60” program, well into his 90s.

Small’s tenure as dean was part of an era when the graduate business program was rapidly expanding, both in size and in prestige, efforts that permanently elevated its reputation.

Dean Arthur Taylor, who preceded Small as head of the graduate business school from 1985-1992, came to Fordham himself as retired president of CBS, establishing long and lasting connections between Fordham and the media industry. The school began embracing media studies and hosting events featuring global media industry figures; it also ran a major advertising campaign that championed Fordham’s values.

“He never chose academia, but Fordham chose him,” his daughter, Tamar Small, said. “He launched into a career at Fordham with the zeal and excitement of a teacher reborn. He would always look back on his years at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus as some of the richest.”

Bill Small, right, pictured Dan Rather at the 2014 National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences News and Documentary Ceremony.

After leaving Fordham, Small went on to hold the title communications professor emeritus and to serve as chairman for news and documentary Emmys for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2014, that organization honored him with a Lifetime Achievement award.

He authored two award-winning books, To Kill a Messenger: Television and the Real World (Hasting House, 1970) and Political Power and the Press (W.W. Norton, 1972). He was also the recipient of the James Madison Award of the National Broadcast Editorial Association, the Paul White Award, and the Wells Key Award, given by the Society of Professional Journalists. He twice received the Society’s Distinguished Service Award for Research in Journalism.

“Bill Small arrived at Fordham with a twinkle in his eye,” said Donna Rapaccioli, dean of the Gabelli School of Business. “He shared his talent, expertise and his love of the media industry with us for nearly a decade and truly enjoyed spending time with others. As a faculty member and a dean, he was among the most prominent industry practitioners to serve the school in its 100-year history, and many of the deep connections he and others created between Fordham and the news media continue to this day.”

Well into his 90s, Small remained deeply connected to Fordham. His apartment remained a reflection of his admiration for the University, Tamar commented. “He always encouraged young New Yorkers to attend Fordham, a university for which he held so much respect and affection.”

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