Every new academic year begins in an atmosphere of great anticipation, and this year is no exception. As I write, we are preparing for the arrival of the Class of 2017. They have already made a great impression on us during their summertime orientation — what a talented and optimistic group of young people they are!
These young people have chosen to join our community because they — and their parents — recognize that Fairfield is a unique learning community, ideally suited to guide and nurture them during these important, formative years.
This is a great responsibility we assume as a community, and in order to be the maturational environment that we are obliged to be, we must continually evolve and grow. There are many new developments on the horizon for our University, and they all point toward a future full of promise.
We recently initiated a number of five-year dual degree programs, so that our students can acquire both their bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in a host of areas — including elementary and secondary school teaching, software and computer engineering, industrial and organizational psychology, and accounting. The advantage to our students is obvious — they receive all the benefits of the liberal arts foundation that is the cornerstone of our educational approach, along with the opportunity to acquire professional preparedness in only five years. We also recently launched a Master of Public Administration program designed for those seeking careers in government, non-profit organizations, or healthcare management — flexibly tailored for those already in the working world who have specific career or academic goals; and introduced a new master’s in Liberal Studies program — an ideal learning opportunity for those seeking personal enrichment or career enhancement.
There are other new programs in the offing — in particular, plans for a number of programs related to health sciences. I will keep you up-to-date on those programs as we approach a launch date.
Meanwhile, we are moving on other fronts. As you will read inside our men’s lacrosse program has steadily marched up the national rankings to a point that we are now competing with the best, with aspirations to become the number one team in the country. It is exciting, and it is good for the institution to be vigorously competitive in this growing sport. Thanks to the generosity of former University Trustee, Lawrence Rafferty ’64, his daughter, Kathleen Rafferty Hay ’03, and his son Michael Rafferty, and the support of others, we will soon have a new stadium to be called Rafferty Stadium. This venue will also be able to be used by other sports club teams, as well as Fairfield College Preparatory School.
We have had a number of enhancements to our campus recently — new sidewalks, improvements to the flow of students as they move from place to place, and beautiful landscaping details. Rafferty Stadium’s elegant design will be a welcome addition to an already attractive landscape.
And in August, our Center for Faith and Public Life hosted the launch of an important collaboration with Georgetown University and the Universidad Centroamericana of Nicaragua. Thanks to a three-year grant from the Teagle Foundation, we will be working together as Jesuit universities on a groundbreaking initiative to explore models of how best to establish humanitarian concerns and deeper engagement with the “enduring questions” about life and social justice within our undergraduate curriculum. Together, we will explore how to equip our students with the tools they need to work for the promotion of justice in whatever work or sphere of activity they find themselves. This will advance our work on a critical dimension of our Jesuit mission, which we must never overlook — to promote justice, and serve the common good.
These are only a few of the new initiatives that are underway, but together they are varied and concrete illustrations of the remarkable vitality of our University community.