New Campus Center. New library addition. New science labs.
It is hard to miss the many changes that are taking place all over Fairfield University. But there is one thing on campus that hasn’t changed with the times; the overwhelming dominance of males in decision-making roles on campus.
From the FUSA president to the university president, to all five of the university vice-presidents, the top people who have the most influence on the direction of Fairfield University are all male. Eleven of the top 12 administrators are men.
If you go down further into the administrative ranks and include the assistant vice presidents plus the deans, 16 of the 23 top administrators are men.
Yet the handful of women who hold high-ranking positions do not feel that hiring decisions are gender related.
Assistant Vice President of Student Resources Susan Birge said, “This is not a gender issue. The decision makers at this university are here because they are qualified and intelligent, not because they are male or female.”
Dr. Mary Frances Malone, the lone female associate vice president, agreed. “The only vice president’s position open (recently) was that of academic vice president in 1999. The University hired Korn Ferry, an international search firm to conduct the search,” she said. “They, working with the search committee, presented the best person.” Orin Grossman, formerly dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, got the job.
But many other colleges and universities have managed to hire women into higher administrative positions. Numerous schools, including the University of Pennsylvania, Duke, Brown and Ithaca all have women presidents. Until recently, Jesuit schools had to have a Jesuit president, but a recent hire at Georgetown broke that tradition.
Many Fairfield students said that they were unaware of the male dominance at the top administrative levels. Students had mixed views on the importance of the male imbalance in top jobs.
“I don’t really care that it is mostly men. As long as they are working to their fullest potential, it shouldn’t matter their gender,” said Krissy Fitzpatrick ’03.
Chris Calamera, ’02 believes that more women in the top ranks of the administration are important. ” I feel that gender diversity in the administration would open up new doors to creative thinking that the school has not seen yet.”
Others agreed with Calamera. “Men make decisions differently then women, and a women’s input into major decisions is extremely important,” said Erin Curtin ’03.
Sarah Courtney ’03, added, “It is disappointing that a university such as Fairfield that stresses equality and diversity would not seek out qualified women for administration.”
While students may be unaware of the situation, many faculty members – especially women – said the issue is often discussed.
A statue that rests on the stairs in Bellarmine Hall pictures three men, in suits, deep in discussion. Many women faculty members see this statue, depicting only men, as the perfect picture of the way decisions are made at Fairfield University.
The tradition of a “boys club” at the top may stem from the fact that until the 1970s, Fairfield University was an all-male institution. Although men have been running Fairfield University since the beginning, more women do hold such middle level positions such as director of admissions.
At the student level, no woman has served as president of FUSA since the school went co-ed 30 years ago. For the past two years a woman hasn’t even run for FUSA president. Other schools such as Villanova and University of Pennsylvania currently have female student body presidents.
Fairfield has 55 percent women enrolled in the university at this time. For some students this means that now more than ever there should be more highly ranked women administrators.
The issue of gender equity made people nervous. Several faculty members that were contacted for comment on this issue refused to be quoted in this article. Even some students were hesitant to comment on this issue.
Yet University President Rev. Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. was open and comfortable in discussing this issue. Father Kelley said he has attempted to seek qualified women, and even had the national search firm develop a list of women for the academic vice president position. But when it came down to his decision, Kelley felt that the best candidate for the job was Grossman. “I wanted to find the most qualified person for the job and the best fit for Fairfield at the time,” said Kelley.
One female faculty member, who asked not to be identified, wondered, “Who do women students have to look up to? The more women that are in powerful positions on this campus, the more female students will have a positive woman role model that they can relate to.”
However, Birge said the role models already exist.
“Regardless of who makes the decisions, there are plenty of women on this campus that can serve as role models. In fact, there are phenomenal women on this campus that have a great deal of interaction on a day to day basis with the students that top administrators don’t have.”
Sex and the college
Here is a breakdown, by sex,
of 21 top administrators at Fairfield.
University Position MalesFemales
President: Aloysius P. Kelley
* Academic VP Orin L. Grossman
* VP Finance, Treasurer William J. Lucas
* VP Info Services, Librarian James A. Estrada
* VP Student Services William P. Schimpf
* VP University Advancement George E. Diffley
Associate Vice President:
* Associate Academic VP Mary Frances A.H. Malone
* Associate AVP for Enroll. Mgmt R. Edwin Wilkes
* AVP For Finance Michael S. Maccarone
* AVP Campus Planning/Operations Richard I. Taylor
* AVP For Development Fredric C. Wheeler
* AVP For Public Relations Douglas J. Whiting
Assistant Vice President:
* Assistant Academic VP Georgia F. Day
* Assistant VP for Student Resources Susan Birge
* Assistant VP for Student ServicesJames D. Fitzpatrick
* College of Arts and Sciences Timothy L. Snyder
* Dean of Freshman Debnam Chappell
* Dean of Students Mark Reed
* Dolan School of Business Norman A. Solomon
* Graduate School of Education Margaret C. Deignan
* School of Continuing Education Edna A. Wilson
* School of Engineering Evangelos Hadjimichae
* School of Nursing Jeanne Novotny