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Meet the Senior Leadership Members
On July 1, 2017 Mark R. Nemec, PhD, became the 9th Ignatian and first lay President of Fairfield University. Working with his senior leadership team, constituents across campus, and the University’s alumni community, President Nemec has positioned Fairfield as a model of the modern, Jesuit Catholic University — committed to lifelong learning, holistic formation, and expansive partnership.
Under President Nemec’s leadership, Fairfield has renewed its commitment to the nearly 500-year-old traditions of Jesuit pedagogy, with an emphasis on excellence in all things, care for the whole student, and a broad-based liberal arts and sciences foundation. This values-based, student-centric, outcomes-focused approach is dedicated to forming men and women for and with others, in pursuit of societal stewardship and productive citizenship.
At the same time, he has led the University through a course of expansion and innovation designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and has expanded the University’s reach to learners of all ages, emphasizing: innovation in teaching methods, embracement of the potential of big data and emerging technologies, the launch of new graduate and professional programs designed to meet the needs of today’s students, and the fostering of industry and community partnerships to strengthen the University’s reputation as a leader in contemporary higher education.
Jennifer Anderson ’97, MBA ’02
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Jennifer Anderson joined Fairfield in 2014 and oversees the University’s division of Marketing and Communications. Ms. Anderson brings more than 20 years of marketing and communications expertise to Fairfield including extensive experience in traditional and digital marketing, employee communications, media and public relations, and marketing communications. Prior to joining Fairfield, Ms. Anderson served as the Vice President, Digital and Event Marketing for Pitney Bowes where she oversaw the company’s external and internal web properties, content marketing efforts, and the global events organization.
While at Pitney Bowes, Ms. Anderson also served as the Vice President, Office of the CEO, overseeing the operations of the CEO’s office, while also serving as the Vice President of Marketing for one of the company’s $1.5B global services divisions. Ms. Anderson is proud to be a Fairfield University #Stag, earning her BA in English in 1997, and her MBA in Marketing from the Charles F. Dolan School of Business in 2002. Ms. Anderson is also a graduate of the Executive Leadership Programs at both Harvard University, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
Evelyn Bilias Lolis, PhD
Interim Dean, School of Education and Human Development
Andres L. Carrano, PhD, P’24
Dean, School of Engineering
Dr. Carrano joined Fairfield University as the Dean of the School of Engineering and professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in August 2020. Previously, he held administrative and endowed academic professorships at Auburn University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern University, and Universidad Catolica Andres Bello.
Dr. Carrano has also held visiting faculty appointments at universities in Japan and Turkey, was awarded a NASA Fellow appointment at the Marshall Space Flight Center and has served as a Fulbright specialist in Italy. He earned his MSc and PhD degrees from North Carolina State University, and his BS degree from Universidad Católica Andres Bello — the oldest of three Jesuit universities in Venezuela.
Christian J. Cashman, MEd
President, Fairfield College Preparatory School
Christian J. Cashman, M.Ed, was named president of Fairfield College Preparatory School, effective July 1, 2020. Previously a theology teacher at Prep, he returns to the school after serving three years as president and head of school at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, Conn.
At Northwest, Cashman not only acted as the Catholic spiritual leader and chief development officer of the school, but also oversaw all professional staff, budgetary processes, official communications, and fundraising efforts.
Cashman previously served as principal and chief administrator at East Catholic High School in Manchester, Conn., and as principal and head of school at St. Timothy Middle School in West Hartford, Conn. With a demonstrated dedication to Catholic education, he has held such titles as associate retreat director at the Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center in West Hartford; director of Campus Ministry and religion teacher at East Catholic High School in Manchester, CT; and director of Campus Ministry and teacher of religion and English at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, OH.
A graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, Cashman earned a BA in philosophy and an MEd in secondary education, specializing in English. He is also a graduate of the Seminars in Ignatian Leadership, part of the Jesuit School Network’s United States Jesuit Conference.
Karen Donoghue '03
Vice President, Student Life
Karen Donoghue ’03 was named Vice President for Student Life of Fairfield University in 2018. She oversees student engagement, recreation, student diversity, student conduct, and restorative mentoring. Donoghue is well known for her unique ability to combine individual care with a strategically sound execution of policy. Her singular efforts in promoting awareness around sexual assault and domestic violence have garnered recognition and praise from educational leaders and political representatives alike, and have made our campus a safer, more knowledgeable and respectful community. In addition to having oversight of many key living and learning areas, including but not limited to residential living, orientation and student programs, she is also a mentor to students, and was recognized by the Class of 2015 with the Manor Yearbook dedication. Prior to coming to Fairfield, Donoghue held an administrative position at Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA. She received her BS from Fairfield University and her MA from Rider University.
Scott D. Esposito ’82, MS ’87
Vice President, Human Resources
Scott Esposito joined Fairfield in 2015 as the vice president of Human Resources. Mr. Esposito brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the institution, with over thirty years of Human Resources Leadership in a variety of industries and settings. Prior to joining Fairfield, Mr. Esposito was the managing director of Horton International LLC, a West Hartford based human resources and talent recruitment firm serving clients in higher education as well as life sciences, financial services, and manufacturing. From 2004-2010, he served as vice president of Human Resources for Pratt and Whitney, the $12B aerospace division of United Technologies with over 34,000 employees.
Mr. Esposito graduated cum laude from Fairfield in 1982 with a B.S. in management and completed his master’s degree in financial management at the Charles F. Dolan School of Business in 1987. He is also a graduate of the Executive Development Program of the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business.
David W. Frassinelli MS ’92
Vice President, Facilities, Campus and Auxilliary Services
David Frassinelli was named vice president of Facilities Management in 2018. Since joining Fairfield University in 2008, he has been responsible for campus operations as well as capital planning and construction. David has overseen the construction or renovation of more than half a million square feet of campus facilities, including a $60 million residential building program, Rafferty Stadium, and the $22 million Recreation Complex.
Recently completed projects include the $19 million Tully Dining Expansion, the $31 million Center for Nursing and Health Studies, a 379-car parking garage, a 200 bed residence hall, a 128 bed Townhouse development, the $42 million Dolan School of Business and numerous campus wide renovations. In 2011, David was awarded the Association of General Contractors Private Owner of the Year. David holds an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, a certificate in construction management from Stanford University, and an MS in finance from Fairfield University.
Richard A. Greenwald, PhD
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Greenwald serves as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University and a professor of history. Prior to joining Fairfield on July 1, 2017, he was the dean of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences at Brooklyn College, CUNY.
Dr. Greenwald has a strong background in liberal arts education, having served in both public and private institutions. Before Brooklyn College, he was the executive dean at St. Joseph’s College in New York, and the chair and founding director of the Business Studies Program, dean of the Graduate School, and director of University Partnerships at Drew University, among many other appointments. He has been a teacher of history, business and sociology since 1995, and received his PhD in American History from New York University.
Named by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the leading “higher-education thought leaders,” Dr. Greenwald’s extensive scholarship and writings have been published in major national outlets including Inside Higher Education, The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Boston Globe, L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, and New York Daily News, among others. He is a columnist for The Daily Beast as well as at The Baffler.
Vice President, University Advancement
Wally Halas is chief advancement officer of the University, responsible for all development and alumni relations functions and activities and the various offices and support services that comprise the Division for University Advancement.
Mr. Halas has more than 35 years of experience in fundraising and administration. Most recently, he was associate vice president for leadership gifts at St. John’s University in New York City, where he also oversaw the Office of Development and led the major gifts team on an interim basis. Mr. Halas also served in an interim role for the St. John’s School of Law as the executive director of development and alumni relations.
Prior to his position at St. John’s, Mr. Halas served as director of development-Northeast for Marquette University; assistant vice president for development at St. John’s; major gifts officer at Clark University; and commissioner of the Scholar-Athlete Games and chief operating officer of the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island.
Mr. Halas was the former head coach of men’s basketball at Columbia University and Clark University, where he also served as director of athletics and recreation. He has been selected to the New England Basketball Hall of Fame, the Clark University Athletic Hall of Fame, Wakeman Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame, and was recognized in 2007 by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports as a Community Leader.
Mr. Halas holds a BA in political science and an MPA with a concentration in higher education from Clark University. He is a native of the Town of Fairfield and a graduate of Fairfield Prep.
William H. Johnson, PhD
Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life
Will Johnson serves as the Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Life at Fairfield University. In his current capacity, he is the University’s chief student conduct officer and advocate for students, facilitates appropriate responses to concerns raised regarding students, and provides oversight for off-campus student life. He previously served as the associate dean of students, director of the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, associate director of admission for diversity, and co-chair of the President’s Institutional Diversity Council – all at Fairfield. More recently, he served as the deputy Title IX compliance coordinator and an instructor in the Psychology Department.
Will is active in a number of professional organizations. He is currently a member of the NASPA Region 1 Regional Advisor Board. Additionally, he is the treasurer for the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Conference on Diversity and Equity.
Previously, Will has served as the chair for the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s (NACAC) Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee. He is the past-president of Northeast Consortium Bridging Access to College (NECBAC). In addition, he was actively engaged in New England Association of College Admission Counselors (NEACAC) as a member of the Professional Development Committee, both a member and chair of the Annual Meeting and Conference Committee, and a member of the regional governing board. He is a past participant in the AJCU Ignatian Colleagues Program. He has presented locally, regionally, and nationally on a number of topics related to student life, diversity, college access, student retention, admission and recruitment.
Will attended Northeastern University earning a BS in education and earned an MS in organizational behavior from the University of Hartford. He received his PhD in educational leadership from Fordham University.
Meredith Wallace Kazer MFA’15, P’17, ’15
Dean, Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies
Dr. Meredith Wallace Kazer completed her BSN degree Magna Cum Laude at Boston University. Following this, she earned a MSN in medical-surgical nursing with a specialty in geriatrics from Yale University and a PhD in nursing research and theory development at New York University (NYU).
During her time at NYU she was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing. In this capacity she became the original author and editor of Try This: Best Practices in Geriatric Nursing series. She was the managing editor of the Journal of Applied Nursing Research and the research brief editor for the journal and is currently editor-in-chief of the Building Healthy Academic Communities Journal.
Dr. Kazer is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters. She published Prostate Cancer: Nursing Assessment Management and Care which won an American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award. Preceding this, she was the associate editor of The Geriatric Nursing Research Digest, and the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Nursing Research. She also published and edited a case studies book for advanced practice, all of which won American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards. She is the past recipient of the Springer Publishing Company Award for Applied Nursing Research and the Virginia Henderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Nursing Research.
In 2014, Dr. Kazer was named among the 15 top adult gerontology professors. In 2015, she was named the 10th most influential dean of nursing in the United States. In 2018 she received the Connecticut League for Nursing President’s award for furthering the mission and goals of the organization. She is an adult and gerontological primary care nurse practitioner and currently maintains a practice with a focus on chronic illness in older adults.
Zhan Li, DBA
Dean, Charles F. Dolan School of Business
Zhan Li is Dean of Charles F. Dolan School of Business, Fairfield University, leading the Dolan School that has been ranked among the Top 10 Colleges for Business Majors by Money Magazine, the Top 30 Best Business Schools by Pay Scale, and the Top 30 graduate programs in accounting, business analytics, finance and marketing by U.S. News & World Report. He has led a significant increase in graduate enrollments and engaged strategically in external outreach. Prior to joining the Dolan School, he was the Dean of School of Business at Saint Mary’s College of California for eight years. He led the School to achieve its initial AACSB accreditation – the highest accreditation standards for business programs as well as its highest enrollment in the history of the School for both undergraduate and graduate programs. He also built strong connections with business and local communities that produced resources, internships, and jobs for students and the school. Prior to Saint Mary’s, Zhan spent 16 years, serving as Associate Dean and Professor of Marketing at University of San Francisco School of Business. Zhan taught at University of San Francisco, University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business, Boston University, and Peking University. He has consulted for multinational corporations. His research has been published in leading academic journals and collected by Harvard Business School Publishing. Dr. Li holds MBA and Doctorate degrees from Boston University and Bachelor of Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology, China.
Mark Ligas, PhD, P’24, ’21
Vice Provost, Undergraduate Excellence
Dr. Ligas is the vice provost for Undergraduate Excellence and an associate professor of Marketing. Prior to being appointed to the Provost Office, Mark served as the interim dean, the associate dean and director of Graduate Programs, and the acting assistant dean of the Undergraduate Program in the Dolan School of Business. Mark earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, a MS from the Pennsylvania State University, and a PhD from the University of Connecticut. His research work focuses on the role of brand meaning in consumption, emotions in retail setting, and customer-service provider relationships. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Dr. Ligas worked as a manager and as an assistant buyer for a Philadelphia-based retailer.
Interim-Chief Information Officer
Christina S. McGowan
Dean, Library & University Librarian
Christina S. McGowan was appointed to lead the operations of Fairfield University’s DiMenna-Nyselius Library as dean of the library and University librarian in January 2020. McGowan was named interim University librarian in June 2019, and previously served as assistant University librarian for Reference and Circulation Services from 2011 until May 2019, as head reference librarian from 2003 until 2011, and as senior reference librarian. Her accomplishments include providing leadership in the development and implementation of reference and circulation services, and leading and managing all aspects of the Reference Department with functional supervision of Reference Services, Information Literacy, and Outreach.
As assistant University librarian, McGowan participated in initiatives such as NEASC accreditation and the President’s Institutional Diversity Council. McGowan has supported and advanced the mission of Fairfield University as a cura personalis mentor, as a mentor for the Service for Justice Residential College, and as personal librarian for first-year students.
She earned her MS in library and information science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information, and her BA in history from Mount Holyoke College.
Rev. Kevin O'Brien, S.J
Dean and Executive Director, Bellarmine Campus
Walter P. Rankin, PhD
Vice Provost, Graduate, Continuing and Professional Studies
Prior to beginning his tenure as Fairfield’s vice provost for Graduate, Continuing and Professional Studies, Dr. Rankin was the senior advisor to the Provost for Accreditation and Special Projects, and Deputy Dean, School of Continuing Studies (SCS), at Georgetown University. While in these current roles, he supported the School of Continuing Studies’ students, faculty and staff, working on program development and reviews, and overseeing special projects for the Office of the Provost.
During his tenure in the School of Continuing Studies, Dr. Rankin served as interim dean and oversaw the School’s graduate and undergraduate programs, launched two new graduate programs in Emergency and Disaster Management and Urban and Regional Planning, and cultivated innovation and scholarship, bringing programs online. As senior associate dean for the School’s Office of Academic Affairs and Compliance, Dr. Rankin managed all certification, compliance and accreditation-related activities, oversaw admissions, enrollment, student and faculty affairs, and graduate certification.
Dr. Rankin earned his PhD at Georgetown in 1998, and served as the deputy associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at George Mason University, before returning to Georgetown in 2008. He has taught at Georgetown, George Washington, Hampton, and George Mason universities, and has published extensively on literary, film and pedagogical topics.
Rev. Paul Rourke, S.J.
Vice President, Mission & Ministry
As vice president for Mission and Ministry at Fairfield University, Rev. Paul Rourke, S.J., leads the University’s campus-wide efforts to ensure that the University’s Catholic and Jesuit character reaches both internal and external audiences. In this capacity, he will oversee Campus Ministry, the Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality, and other dimensions of spiritual life on campus, and will serve as a member of Fairfield’s senior leadership team.
Fr. Paul joined the Society of Jesus in 2000, and was ordained a priest in 2010. A 1994 graduate of Georgetown University, he received his JD from the Washington University School of Law in 1997, and worked at a think-tank before joining the Society. His studies include an STB degree from the Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome, and licentiate studies in canon law at the same university. He was also a teacher at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, and an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown, among other posts.
Vice President, Athletics
Paul Schlickmann joined Fairfield University as the seventh Director of Athletics at Fairfield University in the summer of 2017. He oversees the Department of Athletics in all facets of its mission to help develop Fairfield’s varsity student-athletes in athletic competition, in the classroom, and as citizens of their local and global communities. Mr. Schlickmann brought a diverse background in collegiate athletics administration and growth in fundraising to Fairfield. He previously served as Director of Athletics at Central Connecticut State University for seven years, a tenure highlighted by 20 Northeast Conference Championships. Mr. Schlickmann has also held senior administrative positions in the athletic departments of Stony Brook University and Yale University. The son of a 1962 Fairfield graduate, Mr. Schlickmann was a four-year letter winner on the basketball team at Trinity College (CT), where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies. He also holds a Master of Science degree in Physical Education/Sport Management from Springfield College.
Vice President, Online Strategy and Innovation
Rob Schnieders has dedicated his career to applying innovative pedagogy and technology to advance access and learning outcomes for learners at the undergraduate, graduate, professional, and K-12 levels.
Most recently, Schnieders led the strategy for academic support and university guidance for high school students from more than 20 countries studying at Amerigo Education’s network of Catholic high schools in the U.S.
Prior to joining Amerigo, Schnieders was senior associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Chicago Graham School, where he led graduate and professional degree and certificate programs. Schnieders was also the director of national engagement for the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago, where he helped lead a 2,000+ student, Pre-K to Grade 12, school network. Schnieders was also a lecturer in the Master’s of Learning and Organizational Change program at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy.
Previously, Schnieders was the chief learning officer at Deltak/Wiley, where he worked extensively with academic leadership and university faculty in the development and support of innovative, technology-enabled learning experiences. He was also co-founder of AHA! interactive which created online, problem-based learning environments for middle school students. AHA! was sold to SchoolNet, Inc. and later to Pearson Education.
Schnieders earned a bachelor of science degree in radio, television and film as well as a master’s in learning sciences from Northwestern University.
Rachel A. Schwartzman, JD
Rachel Schwartzman joined Fairfield University in 2019 as the institution’s first in-house counsel. As University Counsel, Ms. Schwartzman oversees all legal matters involving Fairfield University, including litigation, contracts, transactions, governance, policy, compliance, and regulatory matters. In this capacity, she advises executive and senior leadership on a wide and complex range of legal issues affecting both Fairfield University and Fairfield Prep.
Prior to joining Fairfield University, Ms. Schwartzman served as Associate General Counsel for the University of Bridgeport. Before transitioning to her university counsel career, Ms. Schwartzman was a litigator at the firm Cohen and Wolf, P.C. with a primary focus on employment law. Ms. Schwartzman received her BA from Hamilton College and her JD from Pace University.
Christine Siegel, PhD
Christine Siegel, PhD, became Fairfield University’s provost in July, 2018. Dr. Siegel joined the Fairfield University faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor in the School of Education and Human Development. Granted tenure and promoted to associate professor in 2008, she assumed increasingly significant administrative responsibilities at the University, including School of Education and Human Development associate dean and associate vice president, before being named vice provost. As vice provost, Dr. Siegel contributed significantly to writing the University’s strategic plan, establishing frameworks for student learning assessment, and advancing inclusive excellence initiatives.
When Dr. Siegel was named interim provost in January, 2017, she assumed leadership for the Academic Division, working directly with the academic deans and faculty governance committees. In this role, her vision was instrumental in leading a number of significant initiatives, including hiring key academic personnel, reshaping the role of Fairfield’s academic centers, enhancing classroom technology resources, leading a successful accreditation process, revising the core curriculum, and refreshing the Honors Program.
Dr. Siegel earned a PhD in educational psychology and statistics in 1998 from State University of New York at Albany. A licensed psychologist, she worked in a variety of K-12 educational settings prior to transitioning to higher education. Her academic expertise in developmental psychology, learning theory, and educational assessment supports her scholarly work on teaching and learning, which has yielded numerous publications and professional conference presentations. Based on the recommendation of Fairfield’s Committee on Rank and Tenure following a 2018 review of her accomplishments, Dr. Siegel was granted the rank of professor.
Michael Trafecante MBA ’01, P’22,’21,’19
Vice President, Finance & Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Trafecante is the vice president for finance, treasurer, and chief financial officer of the University. He has more than 25 years of financial management experience spanning the areas of public accounting, private industry, higher education, and investment management. In that time, he held leadership roles in all accounting and finance operations including financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting, planning and analysis, treasury, internal controls and compliance, risk management, and payroll. Mr. Trafecante is a Fairfield alumnus, earning his MBA in finance in 2001. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in accounting from Assumption College.
Corry D. Unis
Vice President, Strategic Enrollment Management
Corry D. Unis joined Fairfield University as our vice president for strategic enrollment management in September, 2018. Previously, Mr. Unis served as the vice president of enrollment at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA since 2013.
During his time at Fairfield, Mr. Unis implemented new and innovative practices including predictive modeling, advanced analytics, and the use of data to define and identify key recruitment markets. As a result, the University has successfully increased enrollments, selectivity, and net tuition revenue. Fairfield’s academic profile has also continued to rise significantly. Mr. Unis has led the enrollment division as they have recruited to the two largest undergraduate cohorts in University history.
Prior to joining King’s College, Mr. Unis served as director of admissions at Alfred University in Alfred, NY, and as associate director of admission, among other positions at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY. He holds a BA in political science from Le Moyne College and an MS in higher education management from Syracuse University.
JoAnne P. Williams, JD
Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration
JoAnne Williams is the senior vice president of Finance and Administration for Fairfield University, and oversees the planning, development, and management of Fairfield’s financial, physical, and technological resources, as well as it’s auxiliary services. A native of Costa Rica, her personal and professional experiences have provided Ms. Williams opportunities to live and work in countries around the world, most notably Central America and Europe, as well as the United States. Williams holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from McNeese State University, and has experience working in roles ranging from applied engineering and software development, to finance and administration, for companies such as Citgo, General Motors and Unigraphics Solutions.
After obtaining her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Ms. Williams followed her lifelong interest in higher education to a career in academia, and joined Fairfield in February of 2022.