First-Year Academic Gathering

The First-Year Academic Gathering traditionally marks the start of the academic year commemorated by a coming together of the Fairfield University community. In addition to welcoming new students, it is a time set aside for the community as a whole to reflect on not only academic pursuits but also the larger mission and values of the institution. Finally, the incoming class will receive their class gift. The ceremony will take place on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 5 p.m. in the Recreational Complex Field House.

K‚ÄĆeynote Speaker

Aaron Van Dyke, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistryAaron Van Dyke, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry

Born and raised in an apple-farming town in eastern Washington State, Aaron Van Dyke, PhD, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received his BS in chemistry from Seattle University as a Sullivan Scholar. He then earned a PhD in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he developed methods for synthesizing the toxins responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning. Dr. Van Dyke then completed postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan as an American Cancer Society fellow, studying the connection between protein misregulation and human disease.

Beginning his independent career at Fairfield University in 2013, Dr. Van Dyke was recognized as Fairfield’s Undergraduate Teacher of the Year in 2015 and received the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Advising and Mentoring Award in 2017. An avid chef and Fairfield’s faculty-in-residence, Dr. Van Dyke routinely shares his cooking with campus neighbors and has given numerous public lectures on culinary chemistry. He also serves on the Barry M. Goldwater selection committee, the nation’s most prestigious scholarship for undergraduates in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

First-Year Academic Gathering: Webinar

To prepare for the Academic Gathering, first-year students are highly encouraged to read several readings, answer a few reflection questions, and attend one of the three webinars to review topics and themes that keynote speaker Dr. Van Dyke will address at the Academic Gathering on September 4, 2018.


Once registered, students should watch the following video detailing instructions on how to download Quip and access the readings and reflections questions.


Students are expected to engage in the readings and answer one or more reflection questions before the webinar.


Once registered for one of the three webinars, students will receive reminders through Quip leading up to their webinar date.



Having trouble downloading Quip? See the additional instructions below or contact

When logging in to Quip for the first time, on a computer open a web browser and go to Use Firefox, Chrome, or Safari, not a Microsoft browser. Enter your full Fairfield University email address, NetID, and password. Download the Quip application on your computer by clicking the Download App link at the bottom of the left-hand column. 

Students are highly encouraged to download the Quip mobile app to their iPhone, iPad, or Android device from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The mobile version of Quip is designed to allow for greater interaction with the readings and reflection question and enables notifications when others are writing, editing, or reviewing materials.

Watch the Class of 2021 Academic Gathering

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