Paul_Fitzgerald_teachingThe Mirror: How did you hear of Fairfield University?’ Have you known about it for some time?

Paul Fitzgerald: Fairfield University has long enjoyed a very good reputation among Jesuits and lay folks at Jesuit high schools and universities across the country.

The first time I met and got to know Fairfield alumni was in the late 1980s when I arrived in Cambridge, Mass. for graduate studies in theology. Fairfield alumni recalled fondly the tight-knit community, the dedication of the faculty to student learning, and, of course, the great beauty of the campus. Alumni also spoke of the deep, life-long friendships that they formed at Fairfield.

More recently, as a member of the religious studies department at Santa Clara, I have read the scholarly work of such Fairfield faculty as Paul Lakeland, John Thiel and Nancy Dallavalle or heard them present papers at conferences. So I knew that Fairfield was academically quite strong. When the position of SVPAA opened up, well, I was very interested in meeting with the Search Committee to explore the possibility.

The Mirror: What about Fairfield interested you?

PF: So far, I have found everything to be interesting! I like, for example, that Fairfield has a nursing school. There is a great need for nurses in the U.S., and within that need, well, I think that nurses coming from a Jesuit institution of higher education, with a liberal arts core and a holistic care for persons, will be wonderful additions to the ranks of their profession.

I like the way the Business School weaves ethics and multiculturalism into its course of study. I also have to admit that I am very drawn to the place because most everyone I have met from Fairfield is so positive about the place.

‘ Generally, I like the fact that Fairfield is big enough to have a breadth and depth of programs and departments, but not so big that people don’t know each other.
The sense I got from the folks I met is that Fairfield is a living community, with traditions and values, and with a dynamism that is leading our growth in a very good direction. It seems to me that Fairfield is becoming its own better self, and everyone – faculty staff, administrators and students – are all contributing.

The Mirror: What do you hope to accomplish at Fairfield?

‘ PF: I would like to help with the major initiatives that [University President Fr. Jeffrey] von Arx has outlined: the further integration of the core curriculum, the further integration of living and learning and the strengthening of the Jesuit mission and vision of the graduate programs.

The good news is that there is already a very healthy and positive movement behind each of these major projects, so my job will be to strengthen and coordinate efforts that are already underway. I do hope to bring some new ideas to the table from beyond Fairfield, for as good as any one university may be, there are always things we can learn from other universities, even if we have to modify or adapt their practices when we try them out here.’

Thanks very much for asking me these questions and for welcoming me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.