Fairfield University announces new Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs


Nationwide search brings Jesuit Scholar to fill position

A nationwide search by Fairfield University has resulted in the naming of Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Santa Clara University, to fill the position of Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Fr. Fitzgerald brings an extensive scholarly background and broad international experience to the position which he will assume July 1.

Fr. Fitzgerald has taught in both China and Kenya and for the past five years worked closely with other faculty to develop interdisciplinary minor programs in Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Cinema Studies, and Latin American Studies.

In making the announcement, Rev. Jeffrey von Arx, S.J., university president, said, "Fr. Fitzgerald combines impressive scholarship with extensive experience as an administrator and faculty member at Santa Clara, where the hiring, retention, and promotion of faculty, as well as the promotion of increased diversity within the faculty, have been his principal responsibilities. I have every confidence that Fr. Fitzgerald will be of great assistance as we continue to implement our University Plan."

Fr. Fitzgerald succeeds Academic Vice President Orin Grossman who served in the post for 10 years and will return to teaching.

Fr. Fitzgerald said he was drawn to Fairfield by its fine reputation, built on the "solid academic programs, the scholarly accomplishments of the faculty, and the professional service of the staff, all of which are wonderful expressions of the spirit of Jesuit education. What I found in everyone I met at Fairfield - faculty, staff, and students - confirmed everything I had previously heard and read about Fairfield. I hope to be of service to Fairfield University as a steward of, and an advocate for, the academic program that is the heart of this great institution."

Born in Burbank, Calif., Fr. Fitzgerald attended public schools before earning a B.A. in History from Santa Clara University in 1980. Two years later he entered the Society of Jesus, beginning his religious formation at the Jesuit Novitiate in Montecito, California before going to Germany to study philosophy. Receiving a Ph. B (B.A.) in Philosophy from the Jesuit-run Hochschule für Philosophie in Munich, he returned to the United States to teach at Jesuit High School in Sacramento.

Fr. Fitzgerald earned the M.Div. degree in 1991 and a Pontifical Licentiate with an emphasis in Ecclesiology at Weston School of Theology in 1993. After a brief stint of teaching at Santa Clara University, he went to the University of Paris - La Sorbonne, where he earned a D.E.A. (diplôme des études approfondies) and a Docteur ès Lettres (Ph.D.) in the Sociology of Religion. Concurrently he worked towards an S.T.D. (Pontifical Doctorate) in Ecclesiology from the Institut Catholique de Paris.

After joining the department of Religious Studies at Santa Clara in 1997, Fr. Fitzgerald taught courses and conducted research under the rubrics of both Systematic Theology and Sociology of Religion. He is the author of the book L'Église comme lieu de formation d'une conscience de la concitoyenneté (Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 1999) and seventeen scholarly articles. He served four years as faculty-in-residence for the Loyola Residential Learning community at Santa Clara and was director of the interdisciplinary Catholic Studies minor for seven years. He served as an adjunct lecturer at the Education College in Xiamen, China (1991) and as a visiting lecturer at Hekima College, Nairobi, Kenya (2004).

For the past five years, as an Associate Dean and then as the Senior Associate Dean of the College, Fr. Fitzgerald's responsibilities have focused on faculty development and student learning. He worked closely with other faculty to develop interdisciplinary minor programs in Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Cinema Studies, and Latin American Studies; he has served as the college liaison and as one of the developers of a new core curriculum at Santa Clara to be introduced in fall 2009.

Fr. von Arx thanked the Search Committee, led by Executive Vice President Billy Weitzer, for conducting the nationwide search and "securing the best candidate for the position." He said the university community is looking forward to "welcoming Fr. Fitzgerald, and collaborating with him as we work together to make Fairfield University a model of Jesuit and Catholic education for the 21st century."

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

Posted on February 4, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 202