Letter from the President

Letter from the President

Dear Friends,

At the time of this writing, I am anticipating our first annual University-wide Convocation to be held in the early days of September. It is my hope that this ceremonial and informational launch to the new year will become a tradi­tion that will remain part of the fabric of our University for generations, eagerly anticipated from one year to the next.

The beginning of the school year is an ideal moment for the University community to gather together in this manner, to greet friends and ex­change news after the summer break, and to look forward together — as a community — to the joys and challenges that lie ahead.

This year seems to me to be a particularly auspi­cious one. We have a lot on our plate for 2015-2016, and I think it is fair to expect that we will all look back on this year as a significant inflec­tion point in the maturation of our University.

As you will read inside, we have adopted a new strategic plan, Fairfield 2020: The Way Forward, which will serve as a road map for the immediate future. If there are two words that sum up what Fairfield 2020 is all about, they are “growth” and “urgency.”

First, we need to grow in order to meet the needs of the prospective students around us. The economy is changing and our stu­dents are changing. The students of the future will in many cases be older, want to take more classes online, want to be able to study part-time, and will be seeking professional credentials and skill-sets that are focused on specific areas of expertise.

At the same time, our traditional residential undergraduate students need to be laser focused on career-readiness, more so than they have had to be in the past, and they are looking to the University to provide them with these skills. Furthermore, there are whole new areas of study that are opening up before us — businesses are looking for expertise in “big data” analysis; the healthcare fields are looking for people who have additional skills in management, computer software, engineering and systems integration.

As Fairfield 2020 unfolds we will be looking at all of our programs to find ways to better serve students and prepare them for the workplace of today. With the addition of new facilities for science and nursing, we believe  that we will have the capacity and demand to maintain a University undergraduate student base of 4,000, slightly larger than we have had in the past. We will also look to expand our graduate programs. All of this means that we need to increase our infrastruc­ture — build faster and more efficient networks of communication, enhance our classrooms and meeting spaces, examine our existing infrastructures and so on.

As we have been developing our strategic plan, we have also been developing a campus master plan where we have started to map out how we expect Fairfield to look in the future. This future is upon us and with the pace of change accelerating rapidly, urgency is also a key component of Fairfield 2020. If we are to become the University we have the potential to become, then we do not have the luxury of time.

Thankfully, we have within our community many strong voices — talented individuals who are dedicated to our overarching mission. Innovation will happen with consid­erable reflection on the broader implications for the University’s well-being and our Catholic and Jesuit mission and identity will inform every step that we take.

In the end, we will become more intentional about fostering a climate of collaboration and colle­giality, and in ensuring that we remain in continual dialogue as we evolve. I believe our convocation— and the hundreds of conversations that will emerge from it — will be a positive step in that direction.

Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.