The Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry, a senior judge of the United States Court of Appeals and sister of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, donated a $4 million gift to Fairfield on Sept. 14.
The gift was made in honor of Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.’s impending departure from the University at the end of 2016. Von Arx will be leaving to become a Superior of the Jesuit community at Lafarge House located in Cambridge, Mass., after serving as Fairfield’s president for 12 years.
Von Arx and Barry met during their time at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York, according to Jenn Andersen, Vice President for Marketing and Communications. Barry, who received an honorary degree from Fairfield in 2011 and is a supporter of the University, stated that the gift was made in honor of Von Arx’s years of service to the University.
A strong proponent for the Jesuit education, Barry said in a press release that she hopes her donation will help to continue Jesuit traditions and the mission Von Arx maintained and built upon during his 12 years. In a press release by the University, Barry said, “… I believe that … Father von Arx has assured that Ignatian spirituality will guide those at Fairfield, and even worldwide, who seek the gift it so uniquely can provide, while it continues to inform and influence the environment of learning at Fairfield.”
The $4 million will help fund Fairfield’s new Center for Ignatian Spirituality, according to Andersen. The Center for Ignatian Spirituality, founded by Von Arx in 2014, was established to help promote core Jesuit values and “Ignatian spirituality at individual, group and larger community levels, both on Campus and in the Diocese of Bridgeport,” as stated on their page on Fairfield’s official website.
Andersen also mentioned that the money will help provide scholarships to prospective students. “The scholarships make possible the dreams of many worthy young men and women, and the Center will help meet the needs of today’s world, providing spiritual direction to the community, and to train spiritual directors — both lay and religious — in the tradition of Ignatian prayer,” Andersen said.
Senior Vice President Lynn Babington added, “The University is honored by Judge Barry’s gift, and commends her commitment to providing a Fairfield Jesuit Education to deserving young people, while endowing a Center that will continue to ensure the Jesuit Mission is carried on both in our community and beyond.”
Most students believed that the donation was great for the school, even though Judge Barry is sister to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Senior Nicole Murphy said, “I think any generous donation is a good thing for a small school like us and we should be thankful for anyone who wants to help make Fairfield a better place.”
Senior Nola Caslin remarked that students should “consider the act of generosity without the political implication.”
In agreement with Murphy and Caslin, Chris Traeger ‘20 said, “I think we should just appreciate the fact that someone was kind enough to donate money to encourage the continued teaching of Jesuit values and to help students achieve their dreams.”
Von Arx responded to the donation by saying, “I am truly honored and humbled by Judge Barry’s gift.” He added, “The scholarships make possible the dreams of many worthy young men and women, and the Center will help meet the needs of today’s world.”