Fairfield President Mark R. Nemec's March 17 Update on University Efforts to “Flatten the Curve”

Fairfield President Mark R. Nemec's March 17 Update on University Efforts to “Flatten the Curve”

Bellarmine Hall

During this first week of virtual academic instruction, Dr. Nemec reached out on our Founder’s Day, March 17, to thank University community members for their resourcefulness and collaboration as we do our part to keep the campus and surrounding community healthy and safe. His message is below.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

As we have completed our first full day of virtual academic instruction and operations, I want to thank our faculty, staff, and students for their resourcefulness, collaboration, and effort as we transition to this new environment. Over the past few weeks, all of us have been asked to rapidly modify how we work and learn. While we acknowledge it will not always be easy, I am reassured that we are a remarkably resilient, resourceful, caring, and responsible University family. We will find a way forward, negotiate the challenges and disruptions that are coming our way, make discoveries, and develop solutions. It is our civic responsibility as an institution to continue to do our part to protect the health and wellness of our campus and the surrounding community, as we all seek to "flatten the curve."

Yesterday, the governor of Connecticut issued an executive order to close all restaurants, bars, fitness studios, etc., and to limit events of more than 50 people. The town of Westport, adjacent to Fairfield, has been declared a state of emergency. The University is complying, and will continue to comply, with all directives from the state. Given the fluidity of the situation, we do not feel it is prudent to make pronouncements on events or operating procedures too far into the future. It continues to be our hope that students will return to campus this semester. As of now, we will continue online learning through March 29 at the very least. We plan to continually evaluate the situation and will keep our community updated.

The University's leadership team is monitoring the situation around the clock, to make the best possible adjustments to our teaching and working protocols, to ensure that everyone is safe, and to see that our operations as a University continue as well and seamlessly as possible. I have asked each of the divisional leaders in the administration to assess their needs, and to do what they can to minimize the number of employees on campus while ensuring that critical operations continue.

I would be remiss if I didn't reflect on the fact that we are a Jesuit and Catholic university, founded by a tremendously brave and innovative group of people who wanted to change the world; note that our first Jesuit school was underway in 1547. Today, as Fairfield celebrates the anniversary of its founding — we are 78-years young — we recognize that we are the inheritors and torch-bearers of the Jesuit tradition. We have seen many challenges along the way; we’ve endured many crises and triumphs, shocks and stirrings. Yet at every step, our founding tradition has inspired us to innovate, evolve, adapt, and thrive. As challenging as this moment will be, our tradition and our work has faced difficult challenges throughout our history and we have always risen to the occasion. I haven't the slightest doubt that we will rise to the occasion once again.

I realize this is uncharted territory for all of us — for our faculty and students, for our staff and administration, for our families and friends, alumni and neighbors. Personally, I want to reassure you that you are not alone in this, that we are in this together, and that together we will surmount the personal and institutional obstacles that come our way. All of you have my immense respect and gratitude.

With warmest regards and best wishes,

Mark R. Nemec
Mark R. Nemec, PhD
Professor of Politics

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