This past July, Father Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. announced that he was leaving his position as Fairfield’s president. Throughout the last 12 years, von Arx helped increase the University’s endowment to $315 million, fuel the University’s capital campaign Fairfield Rising and expand the University’s attendance and diversity, according to the Connecticut Post.
“I felt that Father von Arx was a great president; he connected well with the students and made Fairfield feel like home,” said James O’Day ‘19. “Even though he’s leaving, it’s exciting to see the changes a new president will usher in.”
Jennifer Anderson, Vice President of Communications, was able to give updates on the progress for the search for the new president.
On Oct. 25, the student body received an email from Frank Carroll, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, stating that Andrew McMahon ’89 was named the Chair of the University’s Presidential Search Committee.
“He’s perfect for the position because he understands the mission of the University. He can offer multiple perspectives to the search,” Anderson said.
Anderson added that the Board of Trustees chose McMahon because he is an alum, a current and former student’s parent and is on the Board of Trustees. He is also able to look at the search as a representative from each group. The rest of the committee is comprised of faculty, staff, alumni and students.
“I am honored to serve as Chair for the presidential search for Fairfield’s ninth president. As an alum, spouse of an alum, a board member and a parent of both an alum and current student, I have a unique perspective and a deep passion for Fairfield,” McMahon said.
He added that he is looking forward to working with the search committee to find the next president who is able to bring Fairfield to new heights.
The next step for the committee to take is to look for a search firm — a company that will help them identify candidates. The search committee will give the search firm a prospectus; a compilation of what they are looking for in a president of the University. The search firm’s job is to find a wide pool of candidates and then sift through the first round of resumes to narrow down the pool for the search committee.
“We are looking for somebody that understands what the Jesuit mission is, but also has a background in business,” Anderson said.
Anderson stressed how necessary business experience is because running an institution is similar to running a company. She said that it’s crucial for the new president to be able to have a strong relationship with alumni and be well-equipped with fundraising experience.
Sophomore Lauren Lovarco felt that it’s important to have a president who can connect with the students and be able to run Fairfield as effectively as von Arx.
“The next president has very big shoes to fill,” she said. “Father von Arx has done so much for Fairfield. I would like to see the next president be as active in the community as he has. I love that he was able to connect with students and alumni so effortlessly.”
Anderson said that they are looking at both Jesuits and lay people, a non-ordained member of the Church. She said how, although a Jesuit president would be preferred, the pool of Jesuits is getting smaller and smaller.
Once the search committee is given the narrowed list, they will go through résumés until they narrow the pool down even further to find candidates that they want to meet in person and interview for the position.
Anderson said that the search for the new president is long and that a lot goes into it. She said that the process takes about eight to 12 months, but that the new president should be identified by the end of June 2017.
Anderson added that the Fairfield community can keep up with the search for the new president on the presidential search section of Fairfield’s website. The website will be updated whenever there is an announcement to make on the progress for the search for the new president. The next announcement on the website will include the search firm that the committee decides to work alongside.