Varian Mackey Fry to Receive Posthumous Special Recognition at Fairfield Awards Dinner, April 3

Varian Mackey Fry to Receive Posthumous Special Recognition at Fairfield Awards Dinner, April 3

Image of Varian Mackey Fry

Continuing the tradition of recognizing social justice at Fairfield University, this year’s Fairfield Awards Dinner on April 3 at Cipriani 42nd Street will honor Varian Fry for his heroic WWII rescue efforts.

Fairfield University will honor Varian Mackey Fry, co-founder of the World War II Emergency Rescue Committee and former Fairfield University graduate student, with posthumous special recognition during this year’s Fairfield Awards Dinner on Wednesday, April 3 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

From an early age, Fry was a helper, organizing a bazaar at age 9 to raise money for the Red Cross war effort in 1917. His kind nature, combined with a sharp intellect and an appreciation for emerging cultural and artistic talent, guided his formative years. He attended elite private schools, learned to read and write in six languages, and earned a spot at Harvard, where he studied the classics and founded a literary magazine that was home to progressive thinkers and authors, such as Gertrude Stein. Fry developed his editorial voice at the Atlantic Monthly and a number of other magazines, and by the mid-1930s was reporting on the anti-Jewish upswell in Nazi Germany for The New York Times.

When Germany invaded France in 1940, Fry and a group of other American intellectuals formed the Emergency Rescue Committee (ERC) to help anti-Nazi artists and writers, both Jews and non-Jews, escape danger. His heroic acts over the next year helped save the lives of 2000 or more intellectuals and artists, including André Breton, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, poet Walter Mehring, harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, and the physician and 1992 Nobel Prize winner Otto Meyerhof.

After the war, he continued as a writer, editor, and teacher. He attended graduate education courses at Fairfield University’s School of Education and Human Development from fall 1962 through spring of 1964, while living in Redding, Connecticut, and teaching English at Barlow High School.

Sometimes called "America's Schindler" or “the artist’s Schindler” Fry earned the Croix de Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, France's highest decoration of merit, in 1966, a year before his death in 1967. Posthumous awards include the Eisenhower Liberation Medal from the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in 1991, and the Righteous Among the Nations Award in 1994.

Alumni Chaplain and Special Assistant to the President Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., said, "By awarding special recognition to Varian Fry, Fairfield University honors a man of clear moral vision, bravery in the face of imminent danger, and the acceptance of personal responsibility for the safety and well-being of those most vulnerable, those subject to violence and deadly systematic discrimination."  

Since 1988, the annual Fairfield Awards Dinner has raised more than $21 million for the Alumni Multicultural Scholarship Fund and other scholarships, while celebrating the achievements and volunteer service of distinguished members of the Fairfield community.

For more information about Fairfield Awards Dinner sponsorships, tickets, or journal ads, please contact event director Jen Kane at 203-254-4000 ext. 2464 or

Fairfield Awards Dinner

Date: Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Time: Cocktails begin at 6 p.m. | Dinner and program from 7 to 9 p.m.

Cipriani 42nd Street 
110 E 42nd St
New York, NY 10017

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