Letter From The President

Letter From The President

Mark R. Nemec, PhD

Dear Friends,

First, let me express my best wishes for you and your families. I know this pandemic has touched us all. On behalf of all of us on campus, our thoughts and prayers are very much with you.

As a community, we must be clear in our hearts that everything we do is an expression of our commitment to what is true and just, and also to a love of neighbor that transcends justice.

— President Mark R. Nemec, PhD

At the time of this writing, the deaths of George Floyd and others, and the nationwide protests that followed, find us in a state of national mourning and reflection. We are living with uncertainty, feeling our way forward. As a community, we must be clear in our hearts that everything we do is an expression of our commitment to what is true and just, and also to a love of neighbor that transcends justice. We must be willing to embrace the openness of heart that leads to compassion, humility, and gratitude for our shared inheritance as children of God. As a Jesuit, Catholic university, we must be an institution of healing. 

We must also be ever mindful of our core purpose as an institution of higher learning.  With this in mind, Fairfield University held a virtual celebration on May 17 to honor the graduating Class of 2020. With more than 484 graduate, professional, and doctoral students, and 1025 graduating seniors receiving degrees, it was the largest graduating cohort in our history. That we accomplished this is a testament to the resilience of our institution. This spring semester has been like no other, and the Class of 2020 will hold a special place in our history. At this time, we are planning to hold an on-campus Commencement for them on October 11.

In March, when the severity of the pandemic became apparent, the University went into action. First, our students studying abroad had to be brought home — ensuring credits were not lost. Then, our academic enterprise had to pivot to remote learning — securing academic continuity with roughly 1500 classes transitioned to remote platforms, and adapting to meet the needs of our students. Our career counseling, mentoring, library and academic support, spiritual guidance, and other services also transitioned to remote methods. This maintained our academic mission while sustaining the vibrancy of community life so integral to our University’s character.

We have learned much from this experience. For some time, we have been working toward increasing our hybrid and online teaching capabilities. While the pivot to remote learning in March was abrupt, it also accelerated our initiatives along this path. To further this, we recently appointed Jill Buban, PhD, as the new vice president for Digital Strategy and Online Education, to help expand our online and hybrid academic program offerings.

This experience also enhanced our partnerships with the local community. A group of our students produced thousands of face shields for essential workers using our engineering labs’ 3D printers; we donated meals and supplies, and worked with other nonprofits to serve the community. If nothing else, this crisis has reminded us that we are at our strongest as a society when our institutions work together.

While the situation remains fluid, we intend to resume full on-campus instruction on September 1, 2020, while following the health directives of the State of Connecticut. More details will follow, and we will adapt as necessary. We are in continual discussions on how best to safely proceed in our operations.

We are also committed to ensuring that everyone who begins their journey with  Fairfield will be able to complete their education. This requires us to come together in support of our students and their families.

I have no doubt we will do this. As I have often noted, Fairfield was founded in 1942 in the shadow of the Great Depression and with the country at war. Our foundation was an act of faith at a time of uncertainty — of faith in the strength of our people, and the ennobling power of education. This faith is integral to the character of our University and with this faith in our hearts, we will continue to prosper. With utmost gratitude and very best wishes to you all,

Mark R. Nemec, PhD

Other Articles in the Summer 2020 Issue

Donor Profile: Baureen Bujno '90

Read the Article

Alumni Profile: Michael Cummings ’84

Read the Article

Alumni Profile: Carly Ragosta ’08

Read the Article

A Mission Continues

Read the Article

On The Front Lines

Read the Article

From A Distance

Read the Article

Career Goals

Read the Article

Lifetime Value

Read the Article

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