SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR
An update from Dr. Tom Pellegrino '90, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs
On campus the trees are now almost bare, and the days are at last becoming chilly. The fall semester is heading unbelievably fast toward finals and the holidays. As we come to Thanksgiving week, I want to take a moment to stop and take note of the events of these past months.
We are often thankful for the things of which we are proud. I hope you’ll allow me these thankful points of pride from this past semester:
- I am thankful for the students who opened our minds as well as our hearts to the lived experiences of our students of color, including the struggles, fears and triumphs that comprise their lives. Their individual expressions of openness and courage remind us that it is the responsibility of every one to carry out the Jesuit value of being men and women with and for others.
- I’m thankful for the energy and enthusiasm of our student-athletes. Our field hockey team won their first Metro Atlantic Conference Championship, against Quinnipiac. To see the pride and excitement in their faces was inspiring. Our volleyball team also garnered a regular season championship. Our student athletes distinguished themselves in the classroom by placing first in the MAAC with a graduation success rate (GSR) of 97%. Not only did Fairfield place first in the MAAC, but we were one of 22 NCAA Division I programs with a GSR of 97% or higher.
- I’m thankful for the many generous donors whose support is helping to build the new-and-improved Recreation Complex (RecPlex), which is fast on its way to becoming Fairfield’s own cutting-edge facility. Every day I get to look out my office window and see the evolution. (Stay tuned for the grand opening next fall!) The holistic development of our students has much to do with paying attention to the physical as well as the intellectual and the spiritual here at Fairfield.
- I’m thankful for the creativity and flexibility of my staff, which organized #FairfieldFit this fall. These weekly classes—taught by students, staff, and outside instructors—fill in some of the gaps while the RecPlex is under construction. From CrossFit training to yoga and spin classes, there really is something for everyone on campus.
- I’m thankful for how so many of our students take the #FairfieldFit mentality to heart. Last month, members of our Student Senate came together to pass a resolution proposing that Fairfield become a smoke-free campus. While more work will be done in response to this resolution, it is a source of pride to see students advocating for healthy habits for all.
- I’m thankful for the quality of our academic programs—and our students. The University’s Accounting Department was recently rated the #1 accounting degree program in the State by Accounting Degree Review, an independent online resource. The fifth-year option for a master’s degree was part of the highlights.
- I’m thankful for the spirit of service with so many of our students approach their college experience. Many of them had service trip opportunities during high school, and recognize the value and importance of these journeys to meet others in different, difficult circumstances and offer help—realizing as they do that they are the ones who benefit. There are several such winter and spring break service trips in the planning stages right now—and you should be very proud if your daughter or son is among those going! (You can read more about new staff and developments in the story about Campus Ministry below.)
- I am so thankful for the expertise, compassion and personal attention of all the dedicated staff at Fairfield who can really make the difference in a student’s success personally and academically. Every week I hear stories about our students. In addition to the challenges of college, many are struggling with personal issues—such as death of a friend or family member, illness, family break-ups, and more—that don’t come to the surface until a member of one of our many staffs in students affairs intervenes to offer support and guidance. This is not just a safety net—these are people who are there at a moment’s notice to care for and support students. As parents, you can feel comfortable that your students are in their good care.
- Finally, I am thankful to you, our parents, who entrust us with your sons and daughters at a time of great transition. College can at times feel like—and be reduced to—a business transaction. And yet we know that significant transformation occurs in these four years. We understand the awesome responsibility that places in all of us who are entrusted with the support and advocacy of your students. And we are equally blessed with amazing students, individuals who care about each other, who work hard, and who reflect the best aspects of their upbringings. Thank you for making sure they— and you—are part of our Fairfield family.
There is, indeed, so very much to be thankful for! I hope you enjoy and appreciate each other’s company over the coming holiday weeks and winter break.