Fairfield University President Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., announces retirement date


Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., seventh and longest-serving President in Fairfield University's history, announced Friday that he intends to retire at the end of the current academic year - June 30, 2004, after 25 years of service. The decision was made public by Board of Trustees Chair Paul Huston '82 at the conclusion of the Board's annual fall meeting held October 2-3 on the Fairfield campus.

"This is truly the end of an era - and one that will become known as an extraordinarily successful one," Huston said. "Under Fr. Kelley's leadership, Fairfield University has experienced dramatic growth institution-wide; an increasingly qualified student body; major facility enhancement; large gains in the endowment; and, finally, sound financial health - a major achievement in and of itself in a time of escalating costs in the complex and technology-driven world of higher education."

"Father Kelley is both popular and successful and he will be greatly missed," Huston said. "At the same time, he leaves a strong legacy on which his successor may build, leading to an even more exciting future for the institution. Father Kelley deserves our credit and thanks for his enormous accomplishments," Huston continued.

The President made his plans known through a letter to the Board in which he said that serving Fairfield as its president and contributing to the advancement of Jesuit higher education has been one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. He went on to state, "I have given considerable thought during the past few years to the timing of my departure from Fairfield. I continue to believe that the end of the current academic year is the most appropriate time to retire, because it will mark both the successful conclusion of Our Promise: The Campaign for Fairfield University and the completion of my 25th year as president.

"I believe it is the ideal time for a transition to new leadership, as the University is poised and ready to be taken to new heights," Father Kelley said. "Fairfield has achieved remarkable success - enhanced academic reputation, programmatic development, facilities expansion and endowment growth. These successes have come about through the dedication and support of the Board; the collaboration of faculty, administrators and staff; and the devotion of so many generous alumni and friends. For that partnership, I am most grateful."

His letter went on to say that he was looking forward to the remainder of the 2003-04 academic year. "I want it to be a productive one - one that engages the entire Fairfield community in looking forward to the excitement of a new era. When I depart in June 2004, I will do so with profound gratitude for the blessings that have helped shape the Fairfield University we know today, and for the privilege of having served this great institution for so many years."

Huston indicated a committee, composed of representatives from the Board of Trustees, faculty, students, administration, alumni and the Jesuit community, will be named early next week to assist in the search for a Jesuit successor. Selection of a new President is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees.

Fr. Kelley's decision marks the end of a tremendously successful 25-year tenure during which Fairfield University has become one of the preeminent Jesuit schools in the country. As the longest serving president of the nation's 28 Jesuit colleges and universities, arriving at the University in 1979, Fr. Kelley has presided over the graduation of 64% of Fairfield's 38,000 alumni.

During his tenure, Father Kelley worked tirelessly in collaboration with the University's faculty, alumni, parents and friends with extraordinary results. Facility expansion has been a major priority resulting in the construction and acquisition of 14 new facilities and renovation/expansion of 12 others. Among the new buildings are the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts; Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola; Thomas J. Walsh Athletic Center; Donnarumma Hall classroom and office building; the Charles F. Dolan School of Business (formerly the Center for Financial Studies); Alumni House; the residential townhouse complex and the Apartment Village.

Major renovation and expansion have also contributed to transforming the campus. Such enhancements include the DiMenna-Nyselius Library, John A. Barone Campus Center and Rudolph Bannow Science Center. There were also significant upgrades in all residence halls, the Leslie C. Quick Recreation Complex and numerous other facilities.

The intellectual environment also thrived during Fr. Kelley's tenure. Fairfield was accepted for membership in Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most respected academic honor society in the United States. The Charles F. Dolan School of Business was accredited by the esteemed AACSB - the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The School of Continuing Education (now University College) was established. The University acquired Bridgeport Engineering Institute as its new School of Engineering. Numerous master's degree programs were established. The Office of Jesuit and Catholic Mission and Identity was created as was the Ignatian Residential College. Several endowed chairs were also established.

The population served by Fairfield has also evolved and with it the faculty. On the undergraduate level Fairfield this year set an all-time record in the number of applications - 7655 for 850 seats in the incoming class. During Fr. Kelley's presidency, the average combined SAT score for the entering class has increased from 1065 to 1197. Fairfield's admit rate for this year's entering class placed it among the top five percent of four-year colleges and universities in the nation in terms of selectivity. The ethnicity of the student population has also changed. In 1979 there were 3.2% students of color compared to a current figure of 12%. The number of full-time faculty has increased from 151 to 220 and 94% of the faculty have a Ph.D. or the terminal degree in their respective field.

On the financial side the institution's endowment has increased from under $2 million in 1979 to $131 million currently. In 2000, Our Promise: The Campaign for Fairfield University was launched publicly. The goal was $100 million for facilities, endowment and operations. In May 2002, based on the campaign's initial success, the Board of Trustees increased the goal to $125 million. As of September 2003, $122 million has been raised. The campaign will close on June 30, 2004.

 

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 3, 2003