Letter from the President

Letter from the President

Mark R. Nemec, PhD, President

Mark R. Nemec, PhD, President

Dear Friends,

The campus was bustling during Alumni Family Weekend this October, with thousands of alumni, parents, and students enjoying a beautiful couple of days, celebrating our University together — in person, and sharing the bonds that are so integral to the character of our community.

We have all been asked, during this special year, to embrace once again the bold, missionary spirit that characterized the early Jesuits — their fearless optimism in engaging with the world as they found it, transforming it for the better. This is what we remain determined to do.

— Mark R. Nemec, PhD President

We are blessed; this semester has had a slightly celebratory air across all dimensions of campus life as we have returned to the busy flow of activity, punctuated by joyous celebrations ranging from the President’s Ball on Bellarmine Lawn, to a Mass and luncheon in honor of our longtime alumni chaplain Rev. Charles Allen, S.J., a marvelous celebration of which you will read more inside.

So while we are still navigating some of the uncertainty that the pandemic has fostered, we have stayed on course throughout, and our fundamental mission of forming men and women of purpose, prepared for lives of productive citizenship and societal stewardship has not wavered.

Indeed, these past few months have been marked by a University-wide spirit of renewal and rededication to our mission, in keeping with our obligation as a Jesuit and Catholic University to be in step with the Society of Jesus in this Ignatian Year. We have all been asked, during this special year, to embrace once again the bold, missionary spirit that characterized the early Jesuits — their fearless optimism in engaging with the world as they found it, transforming it for the better. This is what we remain determined to do.

The timing is auspicious, because Fairfield is in the midst of one of the most significant transitions in our history. Thanks to our commitment to lifelong learning, the increase in the number and range of degree offerings, and the introduction of doctoral programs in nursing and education, we are preparing for our eventual recategorization by The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, from a regional Master’s to a national Doctoral University. As we endeavor to make this shift, we find ourselves decisively on the road toward becoming a university of national prominence and reputation.

This path to national prominence will inform all of our strategic decision-making in the immediate future, and it is an exciting prospect. While there is still much to be determined, we have at this point identified five key pillars that will support and guide us in this work.

First, we will continue our efforts to evolve and innovate our academic programs. In recent years we have introduced scores of new programs, online degrees, and new learning modalities. This will continue, as we leverage our investment in big data and engineering, advance in the digital media space, develop more industry partnerships, and reach broader audiences in evermore innovative ways through online learning and geographic expansion in particularized areas.

Second, we will continue in our efforts to serve as a beacon in the Jesuit Catholic ecosystem. We have recently announced an expanded partnership with the Diocese of Bridgeport to provide pathways to post-secondary education for those in our community who may not otherwise have the means to further their education. In particular, we have made a commitment to found a new academic unit — still to be named as of this writing — that will offer a two-year associate degree for first- generation, Pell-eligible students, and students of color. This will be a major initiative and a vital expression of our mission to extend a Fairfield education to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity. I look forward to sharing the details of this with you in the coming months.

Third, we will continue to position Fairfield as a destination for arts and cultural programming in our region, coordinating the programs offered through the Fairfield University Art Museum and the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, as well as our many lectures and programs developed in our academic divisions, and inviting more of our neighbors to enjoy what we have to offer. We also expect our Division 1 Athletics programs to continue their rise in stature and competitive prominence, and look forward to fall of 2022 when we will open our new Arena and Convocation Center — a facility whose promise as a forum for civic engagement we are just beginning to imagine.

Fourth, we will continue to elevate our student experience. With our location on Long Island Sound between Boston and New York, we are increasingly a destination campus, and to continue to deepen our “care for the whole person” as we work with our students calls for a greater emphasis on living and learning environments, collaborative workspaces, and focus on overall health and wellbeing for those to whom we hold an obligation.

And finally, we will continue to advance access and affordability for prospective students. Fairfield was founded to provide opportunities for those who might not otherwise have access, and so we must deepen our commitment in this area. We have recently enhanced our commitment to provide full scholarships to a select group of Jesuit high school and Christo Rey graduates, while we continue to increase our financial aid offerings — last year to almost $100 million — and our outreach to those who can benefit from the transformative power of a Fairfield education.

Naturally, as we advance along this road, we do so dedicated, as our motto states: Per Fidem ad Plenam Veritatem: Through Faith to the Fullness of Truth. We do so with an unceasing spirit of inquiry, and the embrace of faith and reason; we do so with an authentic humility, and the recognition that no one of us, no one scholarly approach, has a singular hold on the truth; and we do so with a generosity of spirit, a recognition of the dignity of every individual, and an assumption of goodwill in others.

So as we celebrate this important turning point in our history and look forward to the future, we do so ever grateful for the vocations that have brought each and every one of us into this family, and as we proceed as a community, working Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: All for the Greater Glory of God.

With my best wishes for you all,

Mark R. Nemec,

PhD President

Other Articles in the Winter 2021 Issue

Alumni Profile: Mary Alice Limperopulos ’13

Read the Article

Alumni Profile: Alfred Foglio ’92

Read the Article

Opening the Doors

Read the Article

Nursing Ambition

Read the Article

Protecting Coral Reefs

Read the Article

God’s Work

Read the Article

Open Space

Read the Article

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