Letter from the President

Letter from the President


Dear Friends,

Spring broke forth in the week before Commencement and with the apple trees and ornamental cherries in full bloom, the campus looked as beautiful as I’ve had the good fortune to see it. Though the day itself began with the threat of thunderstorms, the good will and high spirits of our 992 undergraduate and more than 400 graduate and professional degree recipients, and over 8,000 of their family and friends carried the day forward.

As much as it was a day of celebration for so many, it was also a day of great personal satisfaction for me. I can now look back at my year as President of Fairfield University with pride and encouragement at what we have achieved — and a clearer picture of what has to be done — as we rise to become the modern, Jesuit Catholic University that our world needs now.

Currently we are attending to our senior academic leadership to ensure that we are properly and efficiently structured to undertake this challenge. I am pleased to announce that Christine Siegel, PhD, our interim provost, has been named to the post on a permanent basis effective July 1, following an extensive national search. As you will read inside, Dr. Siegel brings a tremendous set of skills and gifts to the role of chief academic officer.

Dr. Siegel continues to build a team around her; we are pleased to announce the appointment of Zhan Li, DBA, as the new dean of the Dolan School of Business. A first-rate scholar who joins us having served as dean at St. Mary’s of California, Dr. Li brings an innovative, collaborative, and global mindset to continue Dolan’s evolution. During his period as dean at St. Mary’s, Dr. Li drove student success and career development through innovative and interdisciplinary programs resulting in the highest enrollments in school history at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Another key academic leader new to Fairfield is Walter Rankin, PhD, vice provost for Continuing and Professional Studies. He joins us from Georgetown University where he served as interim dean and executive director of Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies, developing innovative hybrid and online programs. We have exciting new Fairfield programs ready to launch and I look forward to more in the pipeline.

Having the infrastructure in place to succeed is also a priority, and we are forging ahead. Our new Dolan School of Business facility is well underway; the foundation has been poured and every day this wonderful new structure is closer to completion, which we anticipate a year from now. Our freshly updated and expanded Barone Campus Center – complete with “The Tully” dining commons – has been a great success with our students. And our latest residence hall in the Quad area is nearing completion and will be ready to welcome students this fall.

Which is a good thing! At the time of this writing we enjoy a new record pool of 11,351 undergraduate applicants for the incoming class. The excellent academic quality of our applicants continues to trend higher; with more than 100 new Magis scholars — our most gifted applicants — than we had last year. Notably, over 20 percent of our applicants come from states outside of our traditional recruitment areas. For Fairfield to reach its potential, we have to expand our national reputation for excellence, and the increase of students from around the country shows we are on the right track.

It has been a wonderful year full of promise and new developments, with more on the immediate horizon. I’m so grateful to everyone in the Fairfield community for their efforts, their welcome, and their encouragement, and I look forward to scaling new heights together as the modern, Jesuit Catholic University for our time.



Mark R. Nemec, PhD