Photos by Irene Mulvey: Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, president of Faculty Welfare Committee, speaks at an open forum about Fairfield University’s academic and economic future. 

On Wednesday, March 19, more than 40 Fairfield students, faculty, staff, workers and administrators gathered in a small corner of the lower level Barone Campus Center in what one organizer called a “kind of grassroots democracy.”

The “Fairfield 2014” public forum, organized by the Faculty Welfare Committee, was a direct response to the Fairfield 2020 lecture series that debuted last fall.

According to Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, president of FWC and chair of Fairfield’s politics department, the forum was put together in the four days after the general faculty meeting on March 14.

Boryczka explained that the forum was to create a safe space, “to give voice to their range of concerns on the future of education at Fairfield University.”

DSC_0897Actions brought to light throughout the hourlong session ranged from students’ concerns on the value of their diploma after graduation, to community members such as John Pearson, CPA of Metlife, who spoke on the types of entry-level employees the university was sending into the workforce.

Others, such as Dr. Joseph B. Dennin, professor of mathematics, asked for more economic transparency from the university.

“I would like to see the non-educational aspect of the school unbundled,” said Dennin.

Dr. William Abbott, secretary of FWC and associate professor of history, said those who spoke at the quietly advertised forum wanted their voices heard in the university’s strategic planning process.

“This is a response to what we perceived to be a well funded and deliberate campaign for what the university wants to do,” said Abbott, speaking on the Fairfield 2020 lecture series.

DSC_0915Membership Director of FWC, Dr. Yohuru R. Williams, also spoke briefly at the forum.

“This is not a commodity; education is a relationship, it’s about us,” said Williams. “At the end of the day, let’s not forget, this is about people.”

FWC, Fairfield University’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors – an organization which looks to advance academic freedom and shared governance – plans to hold another public forum in the coming weeks as a response to the second lecture of the Fairfield 2020 series.

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