Letter from the President

Letter from the President

Mark Nemec headshot

Dear Friends,

So we have crossed into a new decade — in this, the first Fairfield University Magazine of 2020 — and I am keenly aware of how much has changed for us all in the last ten years, and also of the tremendously exciting futures that lie before us.

The early Jesuits were innovators — they embraced the technologies of their day in order to ‘help souls’ as Ignatius would have put it.

— Mark Nemec

Arguably the greatest transformation that we have encountered in the last decade has been the evolution of digital technologies and the advent of “big data” — by which I mean our capacity to analyze patterns in human behavior and use that information and those capacities, in our case, to be the modern Jesuit, Catholic University the 21st century needs.

We will always be a traditional, residential undergraduate institution, with a very clear emphasis on personal formation. Helping young men and women to develop their interior lives, their intellect and compassion — and doing so in the classroom and in the residence halls is at the core of Jesuit pedagogy and will always be integral to our identity.

As I have stressed however, the world also needs us to bring the Fairfield educational experience to men and women of all ages, through the technologies that are now before us. This too, is consistent with the Ignatian spirit. The early Jesuits were innovators — they embraced the technologies of their day in order to “help souls” as Ignatius would have put it. They learned the languages, customs, and knowledge traditions of cultures around the globe in order to better comprehend the created world, and to share their knowledge with as many people as they could reach. This is the true missionary spirit that continues to inspire us as we evolve.

One area where this has been expressed has been in the development of more than 70 new academic courses for degree and certificate programs in the last three years alone. Forty of these are offered entirely online, or are hybrid programs that embrace both online and classroom instruction. They include graduate certificates and degrees in cybersecurity, nursing informatics, dyslexia intervention, non-profit management, digital journalism, and marketing analytics, just to name a few. There will be more to come, as we execute on our strategic plan for evolution and innovation of academic programs which I shared with you in the last issue.

The advent of big data also affects our day-to-day operations in ways that are less apparent but just as profound. One area where it is most impactful is in the increasing sophistication of our student recruitment strategies. I’m delighted to report that as of this writing, the applicant pool for the Class of 2024 is the largest in our history, with 12,551 men and women seeking admission, an increase of almost 3 percent over last year. The applicant pool also appears to be academically the strongest on recent record, and the most ethnically and geographically diverse. Given we are able to accomplish this at a time when the college-age population in the Northeast is declining is a reflection of our growing stature, but also of our deliberate enrollment strategies, informed by contemporary recruitment models and data analysis.

Of course, as we grow, we do so with a reverence for our past. At press time, we plan to celebrate our collective history with a “Last Call at Alumni Hall” reception on the evening of March 7, and work will soon commence on our new Convocation Center, which we know will be another big step forward for our community. This new Center will host our basketball and volleyball teams, as well as other campus events, and also allow us to host larger community forums. This is the kind of working and gathering space that Fairfield needs as we continue our rise towards national prominence.

There are countless other innovations underway, a few of which you will read of in these pages. In all instances, I encourage you to appreciate our evolution through the prism of the Ignatian spirit — one that is restless in the best sense of the word, open-hearted and courageous, full of confidence in our mission and always sailing boldly toward the horizon.

With very best wishes and utmost gratitude,

Mark R. Nemec, PhD

Other Articles in the Spring 2020 Issue

Innovation And Inspiration

Read the Article

Making the Magis Happen in the Alaskan Wilderness

Read the Article

Alumni Profile: Christopher Pilkerton ’95

Read the Article

Growing Faith

Read the Article

Spike in the Right Direction

Read the Article

Sparks of Hope

Read the Article

Play It Loud

Read the Article

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