More than 400 receive degrees at the 2014 Fairfield University Graduate Commencement
On a picture-perfect day, Fairfield University awarded 375 master's degrees, 30 doctor of nursing practice degrees and 14 certificates of advanced study at its Graduate Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 18, 2014.
The crowd on Bellarmine Lawn included two honorary degree recipients: Mary Ann Christopher '79, MSN, RN, FAAN, president and chief executive officer, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, who was the graduate commencement speaker; and Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University.
The University conferred graduate degrees from its College of Arts and Sciences, the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, the School of Engineering, the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions and the School of Nursing.
In her commencement address Christopher told stories of how her Jesuit undergraduate education at Fairfield continues to inform her work as both a caregiver and an advocate. She encouraged the graduates to take to heart the spirit of the Jesuit concept of cura personalis ("care of the whole person") and Fairfield's motto, Per Fidem Ad Plenam Veritatem ("Through Faith to Fullness of Truth") and carry them with them at work and in all their relationships.
"And so each one of you in your own way will leave this commencement and - personally and professionally - in life's joys and its challenges - you will envelop and be enveloped in a community of faith centered on cura personalis," she said. "Cura personalis - Per Fidem ad Plenam Veritatem - how blessed we are to have been formed in the Jesuit tradition."
Since becoming CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the nation's largest not-for-profit home healthcare organization, Christopher has become a leading national voice on a wide range of issues, particularly on delivering patient-centered, community-based care to diverse, vulnerable and ever-changing populations. She chairs a National Advisory Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's New Jersey Nursing Initiative and is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She is a member of the New York Academy of Medicine, the Nurse Executive Program at the Wharton School of Business and the Public Health Leadership Institute of the Centers for Disease Control. She is also a member of the Fairfield University School of Nursing Advisory Board.
Christopher, who received an honorary doctor of science degree, sits on the Seton Hall University Board of Regents and serves on the Seminary Board of Overseers for the Immaculate Conception Seminary. She lives in New York and New Jersey.
The graduate valedictory speaker, Paul Gerard Scheufele, of Weston, Conn., told his fellow students how he decided, after a successful, 25-year career on Wall Street, to go back to school for his master's degree in American Studies and become a high school English teacher and lacrosse coach.
"It wasn't that I didn't care to ask the big questions; it was that I didn't have the time to explore the answers," he said of a realization he had during one of his early philosophy courses at Fairfield. "The overwhelming question for me for the past 25 years was simple: How do I provide for my family the best way that I can? Now I was experiencing what it was like to think about Plato and Plotinus, Augustin and Aquinas, with peers who were younger than my sons. Life in the classroom with smart young students was enriching - this time for the soul.
"With much gratitude for Fairfield, I have learned that we can have second acts…and third…and fourth…and maybe more."
Alycia Crane, of Darien, Conn., received the St. Ignatius Loyola Medal for outstanding University service at the afternoon ceremony.
Dr. Johnson, who received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, is a teacher, lecturer, writer and groundbreaking theologian widely considered one of the architects of feminist theology. Her seminal book "She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse" examines the mystery of god within the Christian tradition, inspiring readers to imagine God through the lens of both male and female experience.
Dr. Johnson, who lives in Westchester County, New York, is past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the largest society of theologians in the world, and past president of the American Theological Society, the oldest theological society in North America. She holds 14 honorary doctorates and was named Fordham's Professor of the Year in 2011.
Fairfield University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., said he trusted the faith the graduates placed in Fairfield will continue to be repaid as they mature in their work or future studies.
"We, the faculty and administration, are filled with pride in your accomplishments," he said. "During your time of study here, you shaped us all with your enthusiasm, and with your passion for learning, with your good humor, and through the close relationships that you have forged here, which I am sure will be with you for the rest of your lives."
Commencement for the University's 902 undergraduates took place Sunday morning on Bellarmine Lawn. Sharon M.K. Kugler, of New Haven, Conn., chaplain of Yale University, was the undergraduate commencement speaker and received an honorary degree along with the Rev. John W. Padberg, S.J., of St. Louis, Mo., director and editor-in-chief of the Institute of Jesuit Sources, and John Santa, of the Southport section of Fairfield, Conn., former CEO of Santa Holding Company and an independent director for many private companies. Kevin James Greener, of Chatham, N.J., was the undergraduate valedictory speaker.
Photos: Graduate Valedictory Speaker Paul Gerard Scheufele addresses the crowd; Graduate Commencement speaker Mary Ann Christopher '79 shares her thoughts and encouragement with the audience; Happy Fairfield University graduates celebrate their new diplomas.
For updated information: http://fairfield.edu/commencement/
Attention Editors/Producers: Speakers and honorees mentioned below are residents of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Missouri. B roll of Fairfield's undergraduate and graduate ceremonies is available at:https://files.fairfield.edu:8443/xythoswfs/webview/_xy-5760582_1
Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on May 18, 2014
Vol. 46, No. 298