Dear Members of the Fairfield Community,
As we enter into the warmth of spring and the season of Easter, it seemed like a good time for me to write to you all, reflect on the last 12 months, and give you a sense of how we on campus are thinking about the months ahead.
First, I want to thank you all for your work and patience as we have negotiated this extraordinary period. We have come together as a community to keep our University operating through the pandemic – with a flexible teaching model, responsive student services, and many innovative accommodations that were needed to maintain the continuity of our mission.
While there have been hurdles along the way, and many uncertainties to negotiate, we can all take pride in what we have accomplished as it appears we are breaking through to a time when we can restore more in-person gatherings, campus events, and instruction.
This remarkable undertaking would not have been possible without the spirit of community that is a defining characteristic of our institution. I am honored to have stewarded this collaboration with you all.
In preparing for the fall, we are optimistic at this point that the critical period of the pandemic will be behind us, and we are planning accordingly. So, I am pleased to announce that we are preparing for a full schedule of in-person undergraduate classes when the fall semester begins, and that we will resume to the degree possible the in-person on campus events that accompany student life. In keeping with the evolving modalities across our graduate and professional programs, graduate and professional courses will continue with an array of instructional modalities.
We are making these plans, while also taking into consideration that the national and global situation remains fluid, and that we must continue to be nimble in our response to what may unfold. We will of course take every step necessary to ensure that our campus remains safe, and that we follow or exceed whatever national, state, and local guidelines are in place.
We have recently learned that Governor Lamont has announced that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be made available to the campuses of the state’s universities by early May, so we anticipate that our students will be able to receive this vaccine on campus at this time. They are also free to make appointments for a vaccine off campus as well. We will make more information about our on-campus vaccination plan available when we know exactly when we will be ready to begin.
With regard to the conclusion of this academic year, we have made a plan that will allow for our graduates and their families to celebrate on-campus, and in-person, by having slightly smaller gatherings than we would have with a full-scale Commencement. These plans have been organized in accordance with current state guidelines. For more specific information, you can go to fairfield.edu/commencement.
No one can predict how the pandemic may unfold, or what kinds of restrictions or safety measures may have to remain in place in the year ahead. But we have certainly proven that we have the talent, resources, and resolve to address whatever comes our way. I am confident that whatever challenges we may continue to face, we will resolve them and move forward, because that is how we have responded so far.
I know I speak for all the faculty and staff when I say that we are certainly looking forward to being together again, being back in the classroom, face-to-face, and enjoying the full spirit of fellowship and intellectual engagement that makes our University such a special place. I thank you all again for all your contributions to the life of our community, and I look forward – optimistically – to seeing you soon.
As we look forward, I would offer a thought I have shared on a few occasions with our community over this past year and will continue to stress going forward, and it is simply this that despite the challenges of the pandemic and the occasional uncertainty it has provided, one thing remains abundantly clear, our University’s fundamental call to form men and women of purpose remains unchanged and in fact is needed more than ever.
Finally, with this in mind, as you might have read in the latest issue of the Fairfield Magazine, the Society of Jesus and its works will be celebrating this coming year as the Ignatian year, beginning on the anniversary of his wounding and concluding on July 31, 2022. Writing to us all, the Superior General of the Society, Arturo Sosa, S.J., stressed this as an opportunity to return to the source of our strength and in particular to renew our dedication to youth. How fortunate we are – as we transition from a period of crisis toward a new and undiscovered landscape – to be called to renew our mission as a University: to be an institution of transformation.
Will my best wishes for you and your family this spring and Easter,
Mark R. Nemec, PhD
Professor of Politics