Fairfield University had its humble beginnings as a small, all-male student body of 303 in 1942. As the University approaches its 75th anniversary in 2017, it has undergone an immense amount of change, which is reflected by an undergraduate population of 3,970 with a 3:2 ratio of women to men, according to Dean of Enrollment Karen Pellegrino.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary, the marketing department along with other departments on campus have coordinated events to celebrate the history of Fairfield and look forward to our future. On the actual anniversary on March 17, there will be a faculty and staff reception as well as a Mass in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola. Since the students will be off campus for spring break, they will be celebrating the anniversary the following Friday, March 24 with a student dinner, including a special menu of steak and lobster in the Main Dining Room in the Barone Campus Center. In addition to the events, an offer to join the 2017 graduation ceremony has been extended to the first graduating class. According to Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Jennifer Anderson, most of them are World War II veterans from Bridgeport.
The 75th anniversary is being woven into academics as well. There will be an essay contest regarding the Jesuit tradition of Fairfield University and its trajectories. The winner will be announced in March. In addition, the Service for Justice Residential College is offering a 200 level Religious Studies course this semester called “Tradition and the Spirit of Place: Memory, Identity and Community,” also known as “A 75th Anniversary Seminar.” The course focuses on tracing Fairfield University’s progress and growth as a Jesuit university.
“We are going to talk a lot about major moments in the history of Fairfield. For example, the first female students and student activism on campus throughout the years. It’s going to be really interesting to see how far the University has come,” said James O’Day ’19, who is enrolled in the course this semester.
The calendar of events can be found on the Fairfield website, including a three-month long 75th Anniversary Exhibit at the Fairfield Museum and History Center. The website walks users through important moments throughout the history of Fairfield, beginning with the permission to establish the University in 1941 to the announcement of Dr. Lynn Babington’s interim presidency in Dec. 2016.
“Fairfield University has much to be proud of and celebrating 75 years as a University provides us with the opportunity to look back on our past and celebrate the milestones we have achieved,” said Babington.
Anderson discussed the history of the “young but strong” University.
As the anniversary approached, the University received their largest group of applicants (11,141) with the class of 2021, superseding the class of 2020 applicant pool of 11,055.
“For a variety of reasons we will continue to receive applications through the semester, so that number will continue to grow. The applicant pool is already the largest in Fairfield’s history,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management, Karen Pellegrino.
“It shows that Fairfield continues to rise,” said Anderson.
The construction on campus is further evidence that Fairfield hasn’t stopped improving.
Fairfield University Student Association President Zoë Ferranti ‘17 shared sentiments on witnessing the changes around campus.
“Getting to be a part of the changes I see on campus and helping present the student point of view and desires on behalf of my fellow Stags is an opportunity and responsibility I feel blessed and humbled to have,” Ferranti said.
From the classes of the original College of Arts and Sciences being held in both McAuliffe Hall and Park Place in Bridgeport to multiple schools on campus with the addition of the Marian Peckham School of Nursing and Health Studies, the growth of Fairfield in 75 years is evident.
“It’s exciting to be on campus for the anniversary. This is a great milestone and something that should be celebrated within the Fairfield community by recognizing the accomplishments and successes Fairfield has reached,” said Kristin Garofalo ’18.