Fairfield University names Fordham administrator eighth president to replace retiring president Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J.
The Fairfield University Board of Trustees has selected Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill of Fordham University, and a current member of the Fairfield Board of Trustees, as Fairfield's eighth president. Fr. von Arx succeeds Rev. Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., the longest-serving president among the nation's 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. Fr. Kelley announced last October he would retire at the end of the 2003-04 academic year after 25 years of service.
Fairfield University Board Chair Paul Huston said the selection by the Board was unanimous. Introducing the President-elect, Huston said, "Fr. von Arx has distinguished himself as a scholar, a teacher, an administrator and a Jesuit. His commitment to Jesuit higher education is evidenced by his outstanding record and throughout the selection process he clearly articulated his understanding of and commitment to Fairfield's distinctive mission.
"Fr. von Arx is uniquely qualified to lead the Fairfield University community in new and dramatic ways, as together we address the challenges and opportunities of 21st century higher education, guided by the framework of our rich Jesuit heritage," Huston continued.
Huston made the announcement Wednesday at a campus gathering that included students, faculty and staff. Huston said the Board made the selection during a special meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 20) following a national search for a Jesuit successor that began within days of Fr. Kelley's announcement at the fall Board meeting.
A 14-member search committee comprised of representatives of the Trustees, faculty, students, administration, alumni and the Jesuit community assisted the Board in the search process by identifying Jesuits who embodied the trustees' vision and ambition for the University, Huston said.
Calling Fairfield University "one of the great success stories of American higher education," Fr. von Arx, 56, said, "For an institution only a little older than I am to have risen to the front ranks of universities of its kind is due to the vision, commitment and hard work of many people." He went on to attribute much of Fairfield's success to the "strong and focused leadership" of Fr. Kelley. "His are big shoes to fill, and I will do my best to honor his example by being my best and truest self in my role as President of Fairfield as he has been in his."
Fr. von Arx said his first priority as president would be getting to know Fairfield's many constituencies. "One of my greatest fulfillments in life has been getting to know in their individuality and particularity, the institutions, communities and individuals in which and with whom I have been privileged to serve. I look forward to getting to know Fairfield both as a deep personal joy, and as a response to God's call to service in this time and place in my life." He concluded his address to those gathered saying, "at this special moment in its history we entrust Fairfield University and all of the individuals who make it up to God's gracious mercy. I ask your prayers and support in the responsibility I will undertake as I pledge to you the dedication of my mind, heart and soul to the task that is ahead."
Prior to coming to Fordham as Dean in 1998, Fr. von Arx began his academic career in 1982 at Georgetown University as a faculty member in the History Department where he served as chair from 1991 to 1997. While at Georgetown he was a founding Director of the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies in the School of Foreign Service.
At Fordham, Fr. von Arx has direct responsibility for the operation of the College at Rose Hill, the original undergraduate division of Fordham University that has a student population of 3,200. As Dean, Fr. von Arx collaborated with other senior administrators in developing a strategic plan for the University as it prepared for a major fundraising campaign.
He initiated the College Board of Visitors who advise the Dean and support the work of the College financially, and is involved in representing the College at various alumni activities. Among Fr. von Arx's other initiatives at Fordham are the establishment of a university-wide Office of International Programs and the creation of a Faculty Task Force on Campus Culture.
Fr. von Arx's academic experiences extend beyond Fordham and Georgetown. He has served or is currently on the boards of trustees of Boston College, Canisius College, Loyola Marymount University, and Xavier University. He joined Fairfield's board in 2002. He is also a member of the boards of Fordham Prep, Regis High School and St. Barnabas Hospital, all in the Bronx.
Fr. von Arx received his undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University in 1969, the year he entered the Society of Jesus. He received masters' degrees in history and philosophy and a Ph.D. in history from Yale University. A 1981 graduate of the Weston School of Theology, Fr. von Arx was ordained in 1981. He is the son of Eugene and Betty von Arx, of Naples, Fla.
Fr. Kelley, who also participated in the announcement event called Fr. von Arx "a dedicated scholar and an experienced educational administrator who has most importantly demonstrated an ardent commitment to Jesuit Catholic higher education.
"We heard today Fr. von Arx's first message to the Fairfield community. It is merely the prelude to his tenure that I have every confidence will ensure a vibrant and exciting future for Fairfield University." Fr. Kelley appealed to those present to give Fr. von Arx "your encouragement, support and talents in a partnership that will continue to move this great University forward."
Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on January 21, 2004
Vol. 36, No. 162