Message From the President: University Update

Message From the President: University Update

President Mark R. Nemec, PhD

As the spring semester draws to a close, President Mark R. Nemec, PhD, applauds faculty and student perseverance, innovation, and commitment to excellence, while the University community prepares to celebrate the achievements of Fairfield's Class of 2020.

I have been repeatedly impressed by the resilience, generosity, and optimism of this community, and I know that this fortitude and faith — the essential characteristics of Fairfield’s spirit as the modern Jesuit, Catholic university — will carry us forward to even greater heights.

— President Mark R. Nemec, PhD

Dear Members of the Fairfield University Community:

First, I want to thank you all for your ingenuity and aplomb in managing a very challenging and eventful spring semester. Despite the many complexities we have had to face, together we have united as a community to uphold our traditional commitment to excellence in all things. We managed to continue our work, our learning, and — to the degree possible virtually — to gather our community.

Soon we will confer degrees upon the Class of 2020 — a class, and an achievement, that will always be remembered and celebrated with pride when recounting the history of our University; we look forward to celebrating in person, in the coming months.

On a similar, laudatory note, I want to highlight and commend all those who have been so resourceful and innovative in supporting our end-of-semester programming. Our Fairfield StartUp Showcase entrepreneurship competition was moved to an online format, and we witnessed a tremendously successful degree of online engagement with that program; the same was true for our undergraduate Innovative Research Symposium. Similarly, we have reached out through webinars, emails, and video tours to our incoming Class of 2024 and their parents, and we will conduct first-year Orientation in this manner as well.

In addition to offering these celebratory thoughts, I also want to bring you up to date on a few other developments as we continue to move forward. Earlier this week, we informed students and families of the appropriate adjustments we have made to their residence and student services fees for this past semester. The formula that we developed had to be tailored to a myriad of living and dining considerations — as well as compliant with federal guidelines — so it did take some time, and we are pleased to have the process well underway.

Also this week, we have written to our residential students and their families regarding a process and timetable for these students to come to campus and retrieve their belongings, beginning May 7 and continuing through May 29. The safety and well-being of our students, families, and staff were paramount among our concerns while developing this plan, which also needed to be in line with the standards set in place by the State of Connecticut concerning appropriate social distancing, and in accord with the mandates and timetable set forth by the Health Department of the Town of Fairfield. The details are quite specific, but rest assured, we have thought through all the contingencies, and where students and families are not able to return to campus, we have a process in place to safely gather and return their belongings to them.

As with all matters these days, the situation remains fluid, but we have proven to be very adaptable. Notably, we are looking forward to a busy summer semester, with more than 100 undergraduate courses offered online. The first tranche of summer courses will be exclusively online while we await developments to see at what point, and in what manner, we will be able to resume classes on campus.

I want to assure you that it is our intention to return to on-campus teaching and instruction in the fall of this year. Naturally, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and families remain the primary considerations in every decision that we make, so we will continue to monitor the situation closely — and abide by governmental health directives — as we work on a continuous basis with state and local authorities. Additionally, our University task force is hard at work developing appropriate scenarios to ensure that we can re-open safely; I’m very much looking forward to being together again, as I’m sure are all of you, so we must find a way to do this responsibly, and I believe that we will.

In closing, my thanks and best wishes to you all. I know that many of our families are facing hardships at this time, and I want to assure you that we are very mindful of this. But, in my years at Fairfield, I have been repeatedly impressed by the resilience, generosity, and optimism of this community, and I know that this fortitude and faith — the essential characteristics of Fairfield’s spirit as the modern Jesuit, Catholic university — will carry us forward to even greater heights.  

With very best wishes to you all,

Mark R. Nemec, PhD
Professor of Politics

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