Fairfield University announces commencement plans


Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., who during his first year as president of Fairfield University greeted the incoming Class of 2008, will be this year's commencement speaker on Sunday, May 18, at 10 a.m. at Bellarmine Hall Lawn. "The Class of 2008 will always have a special place in my heart," Fr. von Arx said, "because they were so welcoming and helpful to me in my new role as president. I entered with this class and even though I don't think I will be graduating, I wanted to speak to them at their commencement and share in their accomplishments. This is truly a very gifted class of students and it has been my privilege to witness their transformation and many accomplishments."

Fairfield University expects to award approximately 870 undergraduate degrees and 340 graduate degrees at the commencement ceremony.

Those receiving honorary degrees will be Sister Julianna Poole, SSND, Ed.D., who championed bilingual education during her career in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions; Francis T. Vincent, Jr., former Baseball Commissioner and former President and CEO of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.; David Amram, American composer, musician, and writer whose legendary music spans jazz, chamber music, Broadway and film scores; and Fr. John Halligan, S.J., founder of the Working Boys Center in Quito, Ecuador.

Fr. von Arx, named the eighth President of Fairfield University in July, 2004, has striven to establish a campus-wide strategy to help students integrate their living and learning experiences, all while working toward a more diverse socio-economic and ethnic university community

An historian by discipline, Fr. von Arx began his academic career at Georgetown University in 1982, where he taught in the History Department and was its chair from 1991 to 1997. In 1998 he joined Fordham University as Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill. His concern for student life stems in part from having lived in undergraduate residence halls throughout his years at Georgetown and Fordham.

A graduate of Princeton University, Fr. von Arx entered the Society of Jesus in 1969 and subsequently earned an M.A. and M.Phil. in history at Yale University, and completed his Ph.D. there in 1980. A year later, Fr. von Arx received an M.Div. from the Weston School of Theology and was ordained a priest.

Fr. von Arx has served or is currently on the boards of trustees of Boston College, Canisius College, Loyola Marymount University, and Xavier University, as well as the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC). He was appointed to the Fairfield Board in 2002 and as president, continues to serve as a trustee.

Sister Julianna Poole, SSND, Ed.D., is retiring from Fairfield University after a 60-year career in education in which she has worked to increase cultural appreciation and bilingualism. She was an educator in Puerto Rico from 1953 to 1982, teaching at the elementary and high school levels before moving on to serve as principal of Colegio San Agustin in San Juan and later for Academia del Perpetuo Socorro in Miramar.
In 1982 she returned to Connecticut and served as Vice Principal at South Catholic High School in Hartford and Principal of St. Francis School in New Haven.
She joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions at Fairfield University in 1988, teaching courses in Bilingual Education and ESL. As a supervisor of student teachers she saw the need to provide Initial Educator Certification in TESOL and Bilingual Education and in 1994 Fairfield University was accredited in these areas. Sister Poole also wrote training grants for bilingual and ESL teachers, resulting in Project BET, Project BELL, and Project TELL (from 1995 to 2006) which provided training of candidates from the Priority Districts of Bridgeport, Norwalk, and Stamford along with teachers from surrounding districts.

In encouraging students to learn about other people and their languages and cultures, Sr. Julianna stresses that the one quality that supersedes all others in living today, is respect.
Mr. Francis T. Vincent, Jr. served on the Fairfield University Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2002. An advocate for need-based scholarships, he created the Alice Lynch Vincent Scholarship Fund at Fairfield in memory of his mother in December 1996.
A graduate of Williams College and Yale Law School, Mr. Vincent early in his career served as an associate director of the Division of Corporation Finance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Caplin & Drysdale.

In 1978 he joined Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. as President and CEO. In 1982, following the acquisition of Columbia by The Coca-Cola Company, he was promoted to Exectutive Vice president of The Coca-Cola Company, responsible for all its entertainment activities.

Mr. Vincent served as the eighth Commissioner of Major League Baseball from September 13, 1989 to September 7, 1992. Mr. Vincent had joined Major League Baseball as Deputy Commissioner under A. Bartlett Giamatti in April 1989.

Mr. Vincent is a member of the Board of Directors of Time Warner, Inc. and is an Advisor to GGCP, Inc. He has been honored by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for his assistance to Negro League Alumni. Mr. David Amram is an American composer, musician, and writer whose eclectic use of jazz, ethnic and folk music led him to work with the likes of Thelonious Monk, Willie Nelson, Charles Mingus, Leonard Bernstein, and Jack Kerouac throughout the course of his career.

Mr. Amram has composed more than 100 orchestral and chamber music works, written many scores for Broadway theater and film, including the classic scores for the films "Splendor in The Grass" and "The Manchurian Candidate;" two operas, including the ground-breaking Holocaust opera "The Final Ingredient;" and the score for the landmark 1959 documentary "Pull My Daisy," narrated by novelist Jack Kerouac. He is also the author of three books: the autobiography "Vibrations," and the memoirs "Offbeat: Collaborating With Kerouac" and "Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat."

In addition to the jazz French horn which he helped pioneer, he is a virtuoso on piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from 25 countries, as well as an inventive, funny improvisational lyricist. One of his latest pieces, "Giants of the Night" is a flute concerto dedicated to the memory Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac and Dizzy Gillespie, three American artists Amram knew and worked with. It was commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway.

Today, Mr. Amram is working with author Frank McCourt on a new setting of the Mass, "Missa Manhattan." Last September, Symphony Silicone Valley opened its sixth season at the California Theater in San Jose, California with Mr. Amram's "Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie", a work commission by the Guthrie family several years prior to its premiere.

Fr. John Halligan, S.J., founded the Working Boys Center (WBC) in Quito, Ecuador in 1964. Sent to Quito to look into the problems facing 100,000 shoeshine boys, he found space in the attic of a Jesuit High School where he could begin offering the boys lunch. During the first 10 years, instruction in carpentry and metal crafts was introduced, along with medical and dental care.

In 1974, Fr. Halligan was able to move the program into a new center and introduced one major change in the rules: Any boy wanting to enroll in the center had to enroll his whole family as well. Out of this has grown "A Family of Families" program in which everybody, parents included, are expected to complete grammar school classes and then go on to one of several trade schools: metal and auto mechanics, carpentry, toy making, baking, sewing, and beauty care.

Since its founding, the Working Boys' Center has served over 5,000 families, with 95.25 percent of the men and 83.5 percent of the women who graduated, now working. In addition, 11,691 boys and girls, and 4,333 adolescents attended elementary and technical school while more than 64 percent of WBC members continued their studies after completing programs at WBC.

Father Halligan says the program's success "is synonymous with personal development, family cohesion and elimination of poverty through decent jobs."

Volunteer recruitment is by word of mouth, mostly at Jesuit colleges and universities, including Fairfield University, Le Moyne in Syracuse, and Marquette in Milwaukee.

Among the many honors Fr. Halligan and the WBC have received are the Medallion as the "Best Craftsmen Center at National Level," by the Craftsmen Defense National Board, the "Church and Service Award" from the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, and a Special Diploma from UNESCO acknowledging the outstanding work in educating low-income adolescents from Quito.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 21, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 233