A Look Back on Last Semester
from Dr. Thomas Pellegrino '90, Vice President for Student Affairs
Dear Fairfield Parents,
Happy New Year! I hope you and your families had a restful and enjoyable break over the holidays. As we prepare for the winter storm coming our way tonight and tomorrow, I want you to know your students are in good hands! Please know you can find updates on class cancellations, etc., on the website or on our campus updates page.
This is a good time to look back at the semester we just finished. As with many things in life, a reflective look back to any period of time on a college campus offers a mixture of joy and sadness, challenges and triumphs. I also know that my more expansive look back is not as important as the one you have with your son or daughter. This is particularly true if you are the parent of a first-year student. I suspect you are amazed at how a semester can go by so quickly and yet so much can happen—and so much change occur—in this brief period of time!
Largest Incoming Class
As many know, the University welcomed 1,073 first-year students when we opened our doors on August 31, 2014—our largest incoming class ever. Even with more students, we were able to meet—and hopefully exceed—students’ expectations (and yours) in key service areas such as dining, transportation, and housing. Students seemed to be particularly pleased with the increased variety of dining options on campus and the ability to get around using our new on-campus shuttle system.
Our efforts were not relegated to just first-year students. We changed the timing for our off-campus boarder lottery from spring to fall. By letting current juniors know whether they were released to live at the beach before they went home for the holiday break, we gave them and their families more time to research lease opportunities.
Engagement in the World
This past semester also reflected the engagement of our students in the world outside the classroom. Students participated in robust numbers in retreats, service opportunities, leadership programs, and athletic competitions. They also engaged in some of the issues being tackled by the broader world, including sexual violence on campus; the Ebola epidemic; and legal, political, and social justice issues stemming from the cases in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York. These are certainly challenging and complex issues. As a college campus we are committed to encouraging these opportunities for students to examine and respond to issues related to both their individual development and the progress of the society they live in. Their work has given us all much to think about in the year ahead.
Success After Graduation
As I focus my attention on your sons and daughters, I am also pleased to report that 98% of the Class of 2014 have secured either full-time employment or placement in a graduate or professional school, or placement in a volunteer service program. Read the story to find out more. These statistics are a testimony to the caliber of our students, and underscore the commitment we have at Fairfield to making sure we are attending to the success of our students not just while they are here, but after they have graduated.
A college campus is not immune to the struggles both small and significant that arise in life. You may have heard from your son or daughter about the death of one of our students over the break. Losing a member of our community is inexpressibly difficult. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the student’s family and friends. Counseling and other supports are available for any students who need it. We will be holding a memorial service on campus this week. I want to note that when tragedy like this strikes I am always touched and reassured at how swiftly and compassionately the Fairfield community comes together to support the family and each other. This caring is a special quality of our University.
There will be many events and opportunities for students to reconnect this semester. I want to highlight one very special tradition at Fairfield—the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration this week. Over the course of these five days there will be a variety of events, services and activities, highlighted by the Convocation speaker, Dr. Clarence B. Jones, counsel and draft speech writer for the late Dr. King. This is an amazing series of events all focused on topics of universal importance that bring us together in ways that few events can. Read more about MLKing Week 2015.
The successes of the past semester invite us to look at ways to continually enhance and improve upon everything we do here at Fairfield. I am reminded of our mission. Engrained in our work is the notion of magis, the unceasing process of making choices in our lives that better exemplify our commitments to you as a Jesuit and Catholic University. The beneficiaries of that commitment are you, our parents, and your daughters and sons. That is our collective resolution for this New Year here at Fairfield. I look forward to a great semester!
Dr. Thomas C. Pellegrino ’90
Vice President for Student Affairs