Alumni Profile: John Hardiman

Submitted by Virginia Weir, Assistant Director of Advancement Communications on November 2, 2012

I give back to Fairfield because I appreciate my education and everywhere that it has taken me… and want to try to help other kids get the same opportunity.

John Hardiman ’79

Major: History

Occupation: Attorney

Why Fairfield…

I grew up in Bridgeport, Conn., and attended Notre Dame Catholic High school, so I was very familiar with Fairfield and its fine academic reputation, which was the reason I applied to the school. Fairfield then sealed the deal, if you will, by selecting me from a pool of local applicants for a four-year scholarship, which my father thanked the good Lord for until the day he died.

Favorite Memories

Back in the 70s when I attended Fairfield, there wasn’t as much student housing on campus as there is today. Upper class students were encouraged to find housing down at Fairfield Beach which, frankly, didn’t take much encouragement as the social scene was considerably better at the beach than on campus. One of our favorite local waterfront haunts was a joint called the “Nautilus,” which, because of its proximity to the beach, frequently flooded. Fortunately for the “Naut,” its patrons were not the type to be deterred from their next beer by the minor inconvenience of standing ankle-deep in flood water.

Becoming an Attorney

I have been with the Sullivan and Cromwell law firm in New York City for 30 years, after graduating from Duke Law School. Getting from Bridgeport to a big New York firm was something of an accomplishment in those days, and I couldn’t have done it without my Fairfield education. If any young high school student applying to Fairfield is wondering whether Fairfield prepares its graduates to compete at the highest levels of business, I can tell them it definitely does—and probably even more so today than 30 years ago.

Influential Faculty: Carmen Donnarumma

I loved Carmen Donnarumma, my politics professor. He was wonderfully engaging and loved a good laugh, and we had a particularly funny group of people in the class. I remember that once, for whatever reason, Professor Donnarumma asked us who had won the Masters Golf Tournament that year (Hubie Green was the answer), and all of us proceeded to answer “Hubie Green” to every question he asked for a week. He laughed every time. We only stopped when someone thought of something better. We learned stuff, too…! Also, my professor of German history, the late Paul I. Davis, who we all affectionately dubbed “PID,” was a hoot.

What I Learned at Fairfield

The faculty made sure you could write before you graduated. The curriculum was very much liberal arts focused. I majored in history and took several English courses. My ability to write well has been the bedrock of my law career.

Why I Give Back

I give back to Fairfield because I appreciate my education and everywhere that it has taken me. If I hadn’t gone to a school like Fairfield, I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to attend a law school like Duke or get a job at a big New York law firm. The financial aid made a big difference. I appreciate all of that and want to try to help other kids get the same opportunity.

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