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Our History

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Fairfield University is a comprehensive Jesuit institution that prepares students for leadership and service in a constantly changing world. Founded in 1942 after the purchase of the adjoining estates of Jennings and Lashar off North Benson Road in Fairfield, the University has grown from an initial class of 303 undergraduate male students admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences in 1947 into a coeducational university of more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Along the way, the University has awarded more than 45,000 degrees since 1951, and has developed a reputation for educational excellence both regionally and nationally.

The Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., assumed the presidency of Fairfield University in July 2004, becoming the eighth Jesuit to hold the position since the institution's founding in 1942. He succeeds John McEleney, S.J. (1941), James H. Dolan, S.J. (1944), Joseph Fitzgerald, S.J. (1951), James Fitzgerald, S.J. (1958), William McInnes, S.J. (1964), Thomas Fitzgerald, S.J. (1973), and Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. (1979).

Presidents of Fairfield University | Honorary Degrees Awarded

1942
Fairfield College of St. Robert Bellarmine, Inc. purchased two adjoining estates in Fairfield
Fairfield College-Preparatory School opened classes in a four-year program

 

1945
Fairfield University was chartered by the State of Connecticut to grant degrees

 

1947
First class of 303 male students was admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences

 

1949
College of Arts and Sciences was accredited by the State of Connecticut

 


1950
First graduate classes in education were held on a coeducation basis
Education Program for teacher certification was accredited by the State of Connecticut

1951
First Graduation Class

1953
Fairfield University was admitted to fully accredited membership in the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

1963
Graduate Department of Education became the Graduate School of Education

1966
Graduate School of Corporate and Political Communication opened

1970
Women were admitted to all undergraduate programs
Undergraduate School of Nursing admitted to its first class

1972
Center for Lifetime Learning offered its first courses
Graduated first class of women

1975
Connecticut Center for Continuing Education became part of the University

1978
School of Business was established

1979
School of Continuing Education was established

1981
School of Business offered its first Master of Science degree program in Financial Management

1982
Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions merged with School of Continuing Education to form the School of Graduate and Continuing Education

1987
The School of Graduate and Continuing Education was separated into two schools: The School of Continuing Education and the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions

1989
Acquired the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur property

1990
Graduate School of Communication closed

1994
Acquired Bridgeport Engineering Institute. Masters of Science in Nursing and Masters in Business Administration Program offered

1995
Accepted into Phi Beta Kappa

1997
Granted accreditation into the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International)
Master of Arts offered in American Studies

1998
Master of Science offered in Management of Technology and Software Engineering

1999
School of Engineering becomes a separate undergraduate school

2000
Master of Science offered in Mathematics
School of Business named to honor Cablevision founder Charles F. Dolan

2002
School of Continuing Education renamed University College

2004
Fairfield University's eighth president was installed

2008
MFA in Creative Writing launched

2009
Master's in Communication offered

2010
Doctor of Nursing Practice offered
Bellarmine Museum opened

2012
University College closed

2013
Master of Public Administration launched
 
2015
School of Nursing named to honor Marion Peckham Egan

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