The History of Fairfield University

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
  First summer session of undergraduate courses was held
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


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