Fred Kuo/Fairfield University

Turkey. Philadelphia. Puerto Rico. Washington, D.C. Texas. Boston. Chicago.

These are the destinations of our very own Fairfield University president, Father Jeffrey von Arx, from now until June 27, 2011.

As for his day-to-day destinations, I had the privilege of shadowing Father von Arx through meetings, a Campus Heroes dinner and the tree lighting ceremony on campus on Tuesday Nov. 30.

Von Arx recalled visiting Bellarmine during his time spent at Yale. When he first began his journey as a Jesuit, Fairfield University would invite him and his colleagues for celebrations and masses at Bellarmine. Now he spends a lot of his time being a “university resource,” as he calls himself.

1:52 p.m.:

Father von Arx and I began our day together, by discussing his morning meetings.

Starting at 8:30 a.m., von Arx attended the weekly Thursday meeting where all of the vice presidents at Fairfield meet to discuss important Fairfield issues. On Tuesday’s agenda was an enrollment update for the future class of 2015 and a review of the Board of Trustees binder.

When asked about Fairfield’s plan to work back towards a 60/40 ratio, he stated that recruitment was key. Von Arx explained that not only are more women going to college than men currently but also more women are more qualified for admission into Fairfield. “In order to maintain gender balance, do you take less qualified men to create balance? I don’t know,” said von Arx.

Here at Fairfield, Theta Gamma Sigma awards 75 percent of its awards to women.  “So what’s the matter with men today?” questioned von Arx.

2:00 p.m.:

As for von Arx’s office, it is decorated with exquisite furniture, ornate plates and piles of books. “I like to have everything off my desk by the end of the day. When there are piles it means that I have not taken care of business,” said von Arx. The tidiness of his desk and office is indeed something to be noted.

2:10 p.m.:

Father von Arx held a private meeting with Dr. William Weitzer, Executive Vice President and Father Paul Fitzgerald.  During this time, I was able to engage in conversation with Diane Mastrone, von Arx’s secretary to hear some history about Bellarmine and her connection to Fairfield University.

2:35 p.m.:

For the next forty-five minutes, Father von Arx and a panel of three staff members discussed and reviewed the president’s jam packed schedule from now until the calm, which starts June 27, 2010.

His schedule consists of attending basketball and lacrosse games, advancement meetings and trips around the nation, and events with undergraduate students.

However, there seems to be a conflict in the president’s schedule, being that his nephew’s wedding and the MAAC championships fall on the same weekend.  More pressure on the Stags to make it to Monday of that weekend!

In late March, von Arx has plans to visit Naples, Florida, where he will be celebrating his father’s 90th birthday.

“Oh no! I’m going to miss the Pops Concert.  That’s the best Glee Club event of the whole year,” said von Arx, when informed he was going to have to miss the Pops Concert event due to travel plans that cannot be changed.

3:18 p.m.:

Father von Arx caught up on some e-mails and noted that there were a lot of letters for him to sign on a daily basis.  “A certain proportion of my job is being a traffic cop,” said von Arx, stating that making sure he gets certain papers to the correct people is an important part of his job.

5:30 p.m.:

The house with a red mailbox on Round Hill Road, named The White House, by von Arx’s predecessor Father Kelley, is von Arx’s home, where he returns after his normal 12-hour days of work.

Von Arx hosted the Campus Heroes event, where 10 students were honored for their strong commitment to the Fairfield community.

The students in attendance represented FUSA, Stags in the Stands, Hunger Clean-Up, diversity programs and retreats. “This is what we are about; community engagement and leadership,” said von Arx.

It was hard to believe that the same company who caters our Barone Campus center, was able to produce a salad with a lemon vinaigrette dressing, almonds and chevre that accompanied beef tenderloin and mashed potatoes.

Topics of discussion included diversity, the current housing projects, the beach, future University plans and alumni.

Father von Arx shared that although the annual giving has been high, it has been a challenge to get major gifts donated.

Once the current plans come to a close, the University has future plans that they hope to begin in 2013.  However, as for the senior classes here on forward, only about 400 students will be granted permission to live off-campus.

The next major project that von Arx strongly supports is an expansion and renovation of the RecPlex.  Unfortunately, this does not include Alumni Hall, due to the fact that the town does not support a stadium that will hold 5,000+ attendees.

Speaking of town-gown relationships, von Arx shared that when he accepted his position as president, Father Kelly warned him of the letters that would come in from the townspeople complaining about Fairfield University students at the beach.  “I have not received a letter from residents in five to six years.  By now this is an urban legend,” said von Arx.

7:03 p.m.:

Father von Arx, dressed in a Burberry scarf and Fairfield Lacrosse cap, and headed to the 1st annual tree lighting ceremony here on campus.

Getting a ride on his golf cart across Round Hill Road and on campus is probably one of the major highlights of my time here at Fairfield University.

The campus orchestra and Mendelssohn choir performed, along with an appearance by Lucas the Stag and Santa. In addition, the first 250 students received a free Santa hat and winter scarf.

Von Arx wished the students good luck on finals and hoped for them to rest upon returning in the New Year.

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