Letter from the President

Letter from the President

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, after 12 years as president of Fairfield University, I will be stepping down at the end of this calendar year. The University’s Board of Trustees has taken the steps to launch a search for the ninth president of Fairfield University, the details of which you will read a bit more about inside. And I have received a new assignment from the USA Northeast Province, the Very Rev. John Cecero, S.J.: I have been appointed the Superior of the LaFarge House Jesuit Community in Cambridge, Mass.

LaFarge House is named after the civil rights pioneer, writer and editor John LaFarge, S.J., and was established at Harvard University in 1964 as a residence and center of Jesuit activity at the university. As a recently erected independent house of the relatively new Northeast Province — which combines the New York and New England Provinces — the community’s mission will be to foster the spiritual and moral formation of the neighboring academic communities.

I am excited to be undertaking this new mission, furthering Jesuit higher education and working to further the Society of Jesus’ intellectual apostolate, but of course there is a certain sadness as well as I prepare to leave Fairfield where I have been happy, and where I have enjoyed support and friendship from across the community — from students, parents, alumni, staff and faculty.

The University has made tremendous strides over these years — years of great change, opportunity and evolution. When I arrived in 2004, I asked the community to join me in a common work, to move Fairfield into the new century and to embrace the challenges on the horizon. We made a commitment to make integrity the touchstone for all that we did, renewing the traditions of Jesuit education. We re-emphasized cura personalis in our approach to the learning environment, asking our students to unify what they were learning in the classroom with the way they were living their lives and engaging with the world; we embraced a global perspective as a community, affirming our solidarity with people of different backgrounds, cultures and faiths; and we have pursued excellence in teaching and scholarship. We applied ourselves to these goals and I think we can all be proud of what we have achieved.

We have also faced great challenges that we could not have foreseen. A dramatic break in the economy and a difficult recession made demands of us, compelling us to be creative in our thinking and even more sharply focused on aligning our programs and initiatives to meet the economic and demographic landscape of the immediate future. Thanks to common efforts — a great deal of labor and collaboration from all constituents — we have met those challenges. We now have a strategic plan in place that is already bearing fruit in terms of increasing applications, new programs, more streamlined internal processes and a greatly enhanced technical infrastructure. I believe we are positioned for a great future. As you will read inside, the strategic plan also calls for an ambitious and exciting slate of new buildings and significant renovations to existing structures. This Master Plan for the future will give us the resources we need to continue to be a leader in Jesuit higher education, with the living and teaching spaces required for today’s learning environment. Our campus — already noted for its beauty — will be even more beautiful and inspiring when the plan is complete.

I also have confidence in the leadership team that is in place, and I have witnessed, on scores of occasions, the spirit of our community and its resourcefulness and resilience. So, I know that all will be well at Fairfield and that our University community will continue to thrive. I will have the opportunity to write to you all again, but I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for joining me in the mission that we have shared, and for your friendship and support. So let us ask for God’s continued blessing for the Fairfield community.


Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.