About Us

Our Philosophy:

At Fairfield we believe that every student has the capacity to develop their own leadership identity. Through our Leadership Development Programs students are able to learn more about how they can practice effective leadership in their current roles, civic life, and future careers.

Our Assumptions:

  • We are a community of learners working together to better not only ourselves but also one another
  • Leadership is a process through which people work together to create a positive impact
  • Leadership is not positional
  • Students are responsible for their own Leader Self-Development


Supporting Theories & Models:

While leadership happens in many places, we base our work on five foundational developmental models:

  • Leadership Identity Development Model
  • Relational Leadership Model
  • Social Change Model of Leadership Development
  • Ethical Leadership
  • Servant Leadership

Learning Based Assessment:

All of our leadership development programs utilize assessment to determine how students are learning and exercising their understanding of leadership. Analysis of the information collected through these assessments directly informs our practice of how we develop intentional programs to aid our students in their leadership identity development.

Learn about Leadership Opportunities!

Leadership Opportunities ‌Leadership Development at Fairfield University exists in numerous offices, departments, and student paid and/or volunteer positions.

More information regarding these experiences and how to apply for them can be found at Leadership Opportunities.

Disney Leadership Program

Join us in January for a 4-night, 5-day leadership journey at Disney World in Orlando, Florida! Led by Academic & Career Development Center staff members Megan Webster and Cathleen Borgman, and our Disney Leadership Program Student Leader, this trip will provide hands on experience in learning about the magic of leadership through the Walt Disney Company. Students can expect to participate in three Disney Youth Education Series workshops, focused on leadership strategies, teamwork and creative problem solving. Prior to take off in January, our group of 20 will meet several times to get to know each other before the trip and to learn about Disney’s leadership philosophies and practices through Lee Cockrell’s Making Magic: Ten Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney. We hope to make this trip a wonderful, magical, leadership driven journey and can’t wait for you to join us! Informational sessions, which are required in order to be eligible to apply, are held annually in early September with applications due shortly thereafter. Please check OrgSync in early September for more information. Any questions? Please e-mail lead@fairfield.edu

Leadership Recognition Ceremony

The Ceremony fosters a sense of community amongst our student leaders by honoring and recognizing those students who have gone above and beyond in service to their peers and to the Fairfield University campus community, and who have exemplified the Jesuit values that we hold dear. Furthermore, the Ceremony recognizes student leaders primarily in elected and selected leadership roles on campus, along with developing student leaders.

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FYE Leadership Thematic Sections

This course focuses on first year students exploring a nontraditional FYE curriculum through self-examination of their personal leadership development.

Student Experiences "What do past participants have to say?"

I really enjoyed taking this course. Through various different discussions and activities, I have learned how to be a great leader in the community and at Fairfield.

This course was a great experience that taught me many valuable lessons that I could not have learned in my regular classes.

Leadership Workshops

Workshops will be offered for sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are seeking opportunities to continue their leader self-development.

Redefining Leadership

Redefining Leadership explores the concepts of how different leadership theories and models can be applied to students' current roles, civic life, and their future careers. First year students who enroll in this program will be studying leadership from a theoretical point of view and applying leadership to several salient areas in which effective leadership is crucial to their future as young professionals in the career paths they elect to follow as well as their civic identity. Space is limited to 100 First Year Students.

During this 12 week program students will practice reflective journal techniques about their experience in this program, utilize the Clifton StrengthsFinder "StrenghtsQuest" as well as MBTI, refine their understanding of how they practice leadership within communities for which they are a current member (including clubs/organizations and civic communities) and develop sound presentation skills for their future careers.

Program Expectations:

  • Attend and actively participate in all 12, 1.5 hour sessions
  • Attend Program Retreat on Saturday, February 7th from 9am - 3pm
  • Complete Blackboard discussion boards
  • Complete Civic Engagement Project
  • Complete Leadership Portfolio Presentation
  • Have fun, learn more about who you are, and how you can enhance your leadership abilities

StrengthsQuest Leader Development Sessions

Sessions can address topics such as Strengths in relation to individual roles, group dynamics and relationships, task completion, purpose, or other organization issues or concerns. The best teams get the job done by intentionally using each member's strengths. StrengthsQuest supports student organizations to reach greater success by helping them create a team dynamic that welcomes, values, and leverages each member's talents. Students interested in requesting a session for their organization should contact knickolenko@fairfield.edu two weeks prior to the proposed session date.

StrengthsQuest gives students and educators the opportunity to develop strengths by building on their greatest talents the way in which they most naturally think, feel, and behave as unique individuals. Grounded in Positive Psychology and the Clifton StrengthsFinder, StrengthsQuest has helped more than 1 million people at more than 600 schools and universities achieve academic, career, and personal success (www.strengthsquest.com).

Contact Us

Kim Nickolenko
Director, Experiential Learning & Internships
Academic & Career Development Center
Kelley Center
(203) 254-4000, ext. 3215

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