In an academic year marred with moments of shock, it is exceptionally uplifting for the community of Fairfield University to celebrate the 2001-2002 commencement with an emphasis on Jesuit ideals. There is always the temptation to allow such an event to be carried by a name, possibly at the expense of the message. This clearly will not be the case as the university welcomes back Doug Perlitz.

Perlitz graduated from Fairfield ten years ago and continued to serve in the Jesuit tradition, inspired by his work with Campus Ministry. As a junior at Fairfield, he visited Haiti. He returned there after completing his master’s degree and started a school for impoverished children, carrying on the tradition of a Jesuit education by being a person for others.

This message rings as true today as it has throughout time. However, given the more traumatic moments of this academic year, this message is an important reinforcement as the Class of 2002 begins the next chapters of their lives. The terror of Sept. 11 and the bizarre spectacle of a hostage crisis on campus have brought new perspectives to all of our lives. That having been said, the continuity of the old ideals is still vitally important.

An eloquent speech with a notable presenter would be inspiring for an afternoon. The demonstration of a still-young adult’s early commitment to service could ultimately mean so much more.

While the choice of Perlitz is a good one, one would hope that it was not motivated by political concerns. In a year when Fairfield’s close ties to the business world made headlines, a very prominent ceremony is being led by someone firmly molded in Jesuit ideals. Last year a former Wall Street ringleader headed commencement. This year, we have a saint. No one can question the decision to have an exemplry alumnus of this university deliver the commencement address. Is this a good choice? Certainly. A political choice? We hope not.

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