I trust that by the time you have received this edition of Fairfield University Magazine, spring will have arrived. As I write, however, there is snow falling steadily on the campus, as it has almost every day during the last several weeks of what has been an exciting academic year. While we dig ourselves out here in Connecticut, the world continues to amaze us with startling upheavals and transformations in the Middle East, and in any other corner of the world where we would choose to look.
As I reflect on recent years I continue to be struck by the impression that we live in an unprecedented period of global interdependence. This has profound implications for how we educate our young men and women. What happens in the streets halfway around the world has an immediate impact on our lives. The voices of our neighbors and their hopes for a better future reach us immediately, and we are asked to respond. The aspirations of these neighbors are aspirations that we share as members of the human family, and so their courage fills us with a passionate willingness to stand alongside them in a solidarity of hope.
This is why we believe at Fairfield that the purpose of our educational mission is to form “global citizens.” What the world needs now are men and women who have a vision to embrace the full spectrum of global issues, and the courage to put their shoulders to the wheel wherever they are called to be of service. Certainly, this is consistent with St. Ignatius’ vision: He believed that helping people to release their potential through study, while developing their moral and reflective capacities, would result in global citizens who would act as powerful transformative agents in the world. We still believe that, and so at Fairfield today, we follow in the well-trodden path of Ignatian educators who have come before us.
We’ve grown in remarkable ways over the year, continuing to explore what it means to be truly global in our vision. Over the Christmas break, I was fortunate enough to travel to Turkey along with our University Chaplain, the Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., and Professor Ali Yaycioglu of our History Department, to explore how we may develop study abroad opportunities for our students in Istanbul. While there, we had the honor of an audience with His All Holiness, Archbishop Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the highest see in the Orthodox Church. We hope that our relationship will open doors to study and research for our students and faculty at Early Christian sites in this remarkably vibrant part of the world.
Meanwhile, as you will see within these pages, we have established a new study abroad program for our students at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, our first study abroad program in Africa, and we were recently awarded almost $300,000 from the United States Agency for International Development to send our faculty to Senegal to help train middle school teachers there.
Our commitment as a University to play a role in the wider world continues to bear fruit, and I am confident that our community will be greatly enriched as new opportunities serve as global citizens come before us.
Fairfield University – across the whole spectrum of its programs, schools, and centers of study – continues to mature, produce remarkable students, and support gifted faculty. It is the collective energy that we generate as a community, and as a body of hope, that makes this growth possible.
Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.