Fairfield University Celebrates 74th Commencement Ceremonies

Fairfield University Celebrates 74th Commencement Ceremonies

students at commencement ceremony

Degrees were conferred upon approximately 1,660 students: 1,061 bachelor’s degrees, 529 master’s degrees, 55 doctoral degrees, and 15 sixth-year certificates.

Fairfield University honored the academic excellence of the graduating Class of 2024 at its 74th Commencement ceremonies this weekend. 

On Bellarmine Lawn on Sunday, May 19, against the backdrop of Fairfield University's picturesque campus overlooking the Long Island Sound, the undergraduate Commencement ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of its graduating students from the College of Arts & Sciences, Charles F. Dolan School of Business, Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies, and School of Engineering & Computing.

As undergraduate Commencement speaker, The Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, delivered an inspiring speech. “Saint Ignatius speaks of setting the world on fire, but that fire begins deep within you and me,” said Bishop Caggiano. “It's a passion, a burning desire for each of us to seek greater excellence, more authentic integrity, to challenge the accepted beliefs of modern society.” He encouraged graduates to “be the architects of hope and transformation,” and to “accept the mantle of transformational leadership...to be able to bring hope and change to the people entrusted to [their] care and a world that is looking for a better way.”

Bishop Caggiano was presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree by University President Mark R. Nemec, PhD, in recognition of his unwavering commitment to building faith communities of solidarity and inclusion. Bishop Caggiano's contributions to World Youth Day, his service on several committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and his pastoral leadership in the Diocese of Bridgeport exemplify his dedication to the values of faith, compassion and service, and fostering positive change in the world.

Sunday’s ceremony also celebrated the achievements of honorary degree recipient Patrick J. Waide Jr. '59, a distinguished alumnus and leader in international professional services, who was honored for his exemplary career, commitment to service, and ethical leadership. Waide has had a transformative impact on the Fairfield community, most notably through his generous support of the Center for Applied Ethics at the Dolan School of Business, renamed The Patrick J. Waide Center for Applied Ethics. Waide has worked to advance the University's mission through his service as a University Trustee, and as a member of the Dolan School of Business Advisory Board and the Fairfield Awards Dinner Committee.

Student Commencement Speaker Steven Cullen Burns '24 spoke about how he learned to incorporate Jesuit values such as cura personalis — care of the whole self: mind, body, and spirit — while examining his purpose, or his “why.” “Magis encourages us to strive for excellence in all that we do, including the ways we take care of ourselves, and how we can be a source of light in the lives of those close to us and beyond. The Jesuit values guide us to find purpose and fulfillment in all that we do.”

For the first time in University history, international graduates from the Dolan School of Business Shanghai MBA program received their diplomas in person at the graduate ceremony, which took place at the Leo D. Mahoney Arena on Saturday, May 18. The MBA program has been available to professionals in Shanghai since 2019, in partnership with Golden Education, one of the largest management training companies in China.

Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, former President of Mexico, delivered the Commencement address at the graduate ceremony in the Mahoney Arena. Zedillo, honored with a Doctor of Laws honorary degree, is renowned for his visionary leadership in economic reform, social justice, and international cooperation. His address inspired graduates to embrace the challenges and opportunities of the future with courage and a commitment to positive global impact. “Graduates, this is your moment. This is your world now. You are stepping onto a stage teaming with both unparalleled promise and great peril...Raise your voices. Become a chorus for peace, a symphony of understanding, and a clarion call for international cooperation. Reject the poisonous allure of division, and instead champion the values of inclusivity and compassion that bind us together as a human family.”

Additionally, honorary degree recipient and Fairfield alumna Carolyn M. Vermont '82, MA'84, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, was presented with a Doctor of Laws degree and recognized for her tireless efforts to provide affordable housing solutions, empower communities, and promote diversity and inclusion. Vermont’s volunteer leadership positions span local, statewide, and national organizations. She has served on the Fairfield University Board of Trustees, the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions Advisory Board, and the Annual Giving Committee. Nationally, Vermont has served as a First Lady Michelle Obama Women’s Roundtable representative and was honored as a White House Changemaker at the 2016 United State of Women Summit.

In his closing remarks President Nemec encouraged graduates to effect positive change in the world, quoting Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit seminarian and JP Morgan managing director, and a 2019 honorary degree recipient. “Everyone is a leader, and everyone is leading all the time. The measure of a leader's personal greatness is less what they found at journey's end and more the depth of human character that carried them along the way.”

For more information about Fairfield University and the 74th Commencement ceremonies, visit: fairfield.edu/commencement.

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