Goodbye, Mr. Fitz

Goodbye, Mr. Fitz

Vice President for Auxiliary Services James D. Fitzpatrick ’70, MA’72, P’08

Over five and a half decades, Jim Fitzpatrick has been a cherished friend and role model to countless Fairfield students, alumni, and colleagues.

After 55 years on campus, beloved Assistant Vice President for Auxiliary Services James D. Fitzpatrick ’70, MA’72, P’08 will retire this February.

The value of his life’s dedication to this institution is truly immeasurable, and he will forever be a part of the Fairfield story.

— Mark R. Nemec, PhD

When James D. Fitzpatrick ’70, MA’72, P’08 — better known as “Jim Fitz,” “Fitzy,” or simply “Fitz”— first stepped foot on campus, it was a snowy February day in 1966. He arrived from Fall River, Massachusetts, wearing one of the two sport coats he owned, for an admission interview with Rev. Henry Murphy, S.J.

Soon after, Fitzpatrick joined the 20th graduating class at Fairfield University. At the time, the campus — a mere a string of ten or so buildings that sprawled across the acreage — was populated largely by all-male under- graduate students and the black-robed Jesuits who lived among them. The original Campus Center had just been built; Alumni Hall was only five years old.

“I thought I had died and gone to the Boston Garden,” Fitzpatrick said, remembering the first time he stood inside Alumni Hall. “I guess I was overwhelmed. I was blessed to be the first one in the Fitzpatrick family to attend college.”

With his signature mustache and his easy sense of humor, Fitzpatrick has run, in one way or another, what is now called the Barone Campus Center for more than 50 years. He has remained a constant through five University Presidents and myriad changes, a supportive backbone to the institution, and a man who embodies a commitment to service in action.

Fitzpatrick, who met his wife of 41 years, Phyllis, on campus, received the 2015 Rev. W. Laurence O’Neil, S.J., Employee Choice Award, Fairfield’s 2012 Leader in Campus Sustainability Award, the 2011 Ignatian Medal from the Jesuit Student Personnel Administrators, and the 1994 Alumni Association Alumni Service Award.

He was inducted into the Fairfield University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 and has been the court-side announcer for the men’s basketball games since the fall of 1971. Recently, more than $100,000 was raised by Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA) students, alumni, and staff to name press row in Fitzpatrick’s honor, in what will be the new Arena and Convocation Center on campus.

Said University President Mark R. Nemec, PhD, “The value of his life’s dedication to this institution is truly immeasurable, and he will forever be a part of the Fairfield story.”

“Fitzy is Fairfield University to many of us,” said Edward “Ned” Burt ’78, now a probate judge for the State of Connecticut, who was a student worker under Fitzpatrick’s Campus Center leadership. “Just the mention of his name brings a smile to my face and gives my entire being a warm feeling. He was so good to us.”

Fitzpatrick said some of the most rewarding aspects of his career have been those that allowed him to work directly with students on sports teams and in organizations such as FUSA, Student Senate, the Glee Club, the Resident Assistants program, and The Manor yearbook – which honored him with dedications in 1974 and 1995.

“He was a wonderful mentor to me when I served as FUSA president,” said Mark C. Reed ’96, EdD, president of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. When I became a colleague, he did whatever he could to help me. He has been a father figure, uncle, and big brother at various points in my life. It’s a grace to know him.”

Service to the community has played an important role in Fitzpatrick’s career. He spearheaded and developed the weekly volunteer project to serve meals at the Prospect House shelter in Bridgeport, which has continued for more than 30 years. He also re- energized an annual spring break immersion service trip to Eastern Kentucky.

Fitzpatrick said he’s particularly proud of having assisted Mary Francis Malone, PhD, former associate vice president for Academic Affairs, in developing the Ignatian Residential College program more than 20 years ago.

Scores of alumni and students will remember “Fitz” fondly for his office chock-filled with Red Sox paraphernalia, for his daily outgoing “Go Stags” voice messages, and for his unflagging dedication to the University. But in a few months, when the man himself leaves it all behind, he humbly said he hopes to be remembered for the role he played in serving the needs “of our magnificent students.”

“In addition, I hope the service and meaning of a life guided by St. Ignatius and St. Robert Bellarmine that has defined my life, and so many lives of our graduates, will continue to produce men and women for others for generations to come,” Fitzpatrick said.

John Sohigian ’82, MA’85, vice president of consumer products for an international sports organization, worked for Fitzpatrick as a graduate assistant in the Campus Center. He said, “In sports they talk about coaching trees and how the great coaches have branches everywhere. Fitz’s tree has become a forest and it will live on forever.”

Other Articles in the Fall 2020 Issue

Alumni Profile: Hugh Morgan '69

Read the Article

Alumni Profile: Katie Burke '96

Read the Article

Donor Profile: Bob Venero P'21, '24

Read the Article

The Original lady laxers

Read the Article

Guiding Eyes

Read the Article

Art Inspired

Read the Article

A New Chapter

Read the Article

Letter from the President

Read the Article

Search Results