Fairfield University 75th Anniversary

1941-09-01 00:00:00

Permission Received to Establish University

Rev. James H. Dolan, S.J., Provincial for the New England Province of the Society of Jesus, receives written permission from Bishop Maurice McAuliffe of the Hartford Archdiocese to establish a Jesuit high school and college in the Bridgeport area of Connecticut.

1941-12-01 00:00:00

Mailands Estate Purchased

As the United States enters World War II, the Fairfield estate known as Mailands, owned by industry tycoon Oliver Gould Jennings, becomes available for purchase; the Jesuits buy the 76-acre lot for approximately $42,000 to establish their new school.

1942-03-01 00:00:00

First President

Rev. John J. McEleney, S.J., formerly Rector of the Shadowbrook novitiate in Massachusetts, is given a new assignment: Head of a soon-to-be established Jesuit educational institution in Fairfield, Connecticut. Father McEleney is considered to be Fairfield University’s first president.

1942-03-17 00:00:00

Institutional Entity Created

On St. Patrick’s Day, Rev. John J. McEleney and six of his Jesuit brothers officially meet for the first time, creating the Articles of Association and By-Laws for an institutional entity for both high school and college-level education: The Fairfield College of St. Robert Bellarmine. This is the beginning of both Fairfield College Preparatory School and Fairfield University.

1942-04-01 19:50:42

Hearthstone Hall Purchased

The Fairfield estate of Mr. and Mrs. Walter B. Lashar – known as Hearthstone Hall because of its many fireplaces – goes into foreclosure. The Jesuits purchase the 105-acre lot , the mansion and surrounding buildings for approximately $68,500 from the town.

1942-08-05 19:50:42

Bellarmine Hall Named

In a public blessing ceremony, Hearthstone Hall is officially rechristened Bellarmine Hall in honor of St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J., the new school’s patron saint, and is converted into the Jesuit faculty residence.

1942-09-01 19:50:42

Mailands Renamed McAuliffe Hall

Mailands is adapted for classroom use, blessed and renamed McAuliffe Hall in honor of Bishop Maurice McAuliffe of the Hartford Archdiocese.

1942-09-09 19:50:42

Fairfield Prep Opens Doors

The Fairfield College Preparatory School opens its doors for the first day of classes. At this point, Fairfield is an all-male commuter high school.

1944-01-04 07:08:38

Second President

Rev. James H. Dolan, S.J., formerly the Provincial, becomes the second Rector and President of the college.

1945-05-29 07:08:38

Charter Signed

Governor Raymond E. Baldwin signs a charter enabling the Fairfield University of St. Robert Bellarmine to grant degrees at the high school and university level.

1945-09-01 07:08:38

Classes Held in Bridgeport

A total of 613 students are enrolled this year at the Fairfield College Preparatory School, and the school is running out of classroom space. Some 70 students attend classes in McAuliffe Hall and the rest attend classes at 200 Park Place in the Seaside Park area of Bridgeport, purchased by the Jesuits in May and renamed Loyola Hall. This building would be used for classrooms as well as living space for some of the Jesuit faculty from 1945 – 1947. It would be sold to the University of Bridgeport in 1951.

1946-09-01 07:08:38

Morehouse Property Acquired

The Jesuits acquire the Morehouse property for approximately $28,500. This small but important property lies at the juncture of North Benson Road and Barlow Road, rounding out the natural corners of the land dedicated to the college.

1947-01-01 07:08:38

Berchmans Hall Constructed

Berchmans Hall is the first building to be constructed on campus, and is completed just in time to house the first University freshman class. It is named for St. John Berchmans, S.J., a Belgian Jesuit scholastic.

1947-02-01 07:08:38

Xavier Hall Constructed

Close on the heels of Berchmans, Xavier Hall is the second classroom building constructed by the University. The building is named for the Spanish missionary St. Francis Xavier, S.J.

1947-08-01 07:08:38

First College Administration and Faculty

The first college administration and faculty is comprised of 11 Jesuits and four lay associates.

1947-09-01 07:08:38

Fairfield University Opens Doors

Fairfield University opens its doors to students for the first time; the first class of 303 male students is registered to the College of Arts and Sciences.

1947-10-01 07:08:38

First Student Newspaper

The first college newspaper is established — The Tentative. It runs from Nov. 7, 1947 through Dec. 19, 1947. Copies of these early newspapers are produced on a mimeograph machine.

1947-11-01 07:08:38

First Student Council

The first student council is established. It was first called the “freshmen council” because in 1947 the University only consisted of first-year students. Father Robert MacDonnell, S.J., assisted in an advisory capacity. The student council was responsible for planning social events and addressing student complaints, such as the quality or quantity of cafeteria food.

1948-01-01 07:08:38

Glee Club Formed

The Glee Club, formed in 1947, performs its first concert under the direction of Dr. Simon Harak to the Bellarmine Father’s Club in the spring of 1948. The club is supervised by Father John Murray and Rudy Ross '51, plays piano for the group.

1948-01-01 07:08:38

Cross Country Team Founded

Rev. Victor Leeber, S.J., founds the cross country team in 1947, making cross country the first team sport at Fairfield University. The students-athletes were given the nickname “Men in Red,” also the title of Fairfield’s first fight song.

1948-01-01 14:55:09

Class Ring Designed

Fairfield’s Conrad Sternchak is responsible for the design of the class ring, featuring a Stag and the Latin motto, Per Fidem Ad Plenam Veritatem, which means “Through Faith to the Fullness of Truth.”

1948-01-01 14:55:09

Fairfield Seal Crafted

Fairfield’s seal combines elements of its several traditions. The gold pine cones come from the coat of arms of the family of St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. Superimposed on the cones is the badge of the Society of Jesus in blue with the letters IHS surmounted by the cross. The hart crossing a ford is a part of the coat of arms of the Diocese of Hartford, instrumental in the founding of the school and the clusters of grapes are taken from the town seal, symbolic of the verdant fields of the Town and County of Fairfield.

1948-02-01 07:08:38

Student Clubs Formed

The first few years of the University witnessed the establishment of a wide variety of student clubs. Some were religious in their focus, such as the Sodality of Our Lady of Fairfield. Others were scholarly in nature, such as the Mendel Club, the Chemistry Club and the Spanish Club. A handful of clubs were more creative – including the Microphone Players, later the Radio Club, whose early participants hosted a panel talk show on the local radio station discussing topics of the day.

1948-02-01 14:55:09

Mid-Winter Carnival

The first Mid-Winter Carnival, a formal social dance that becomes one of the highlights of the year, takes place in Berchman’s Hall during a blizzard. Later years would see this event take place in fancier venues off campus, with popular bands and featuring stunning ice sculptures created for the event. The crowning of the Snow Queen also took place, the winner chosen from candidates nominated by their male escorts. The Mid-Winter Carnival dance becomes one of the University’s most memorable traditions of the 1950s and 1960s.

1948-04-01 07:08:38

Newspaper renamed The Fulcrum

A contest is held to find a new name for the student newspaper, and the winner is The Fulcrum. The Fulcrum runs January 9, 1948 through May 20, 1949.

1948-06-01 18:04:44

Area and Parent Clubs Formed

Area clubs and parent clubs were a big part of early University and Prep school life. The Bellarmine Mother’s and Father’s Clubs, and clubs based on students’ home towns (the Waterbury Club, the New Haven Club, etc.) provided much needed fundraising support for the young institution and provided a growing social network for the students and their families.

1948-09-01 07:08:38

Red Stag Named Mascot

The Board of Trustees, at the recommendation of students, chooses the Red Stag to be Fairfield’s mascot (this over the other suggestion, the Fairfield Chanticleers). The “Men in Red” is penned as Fairfield’s first official fight song.

1948-10-01 07:08:38

Men’s Basketball Team Established

The men's basketball team is established in 1948. The Stags play their first-ever game against Brooklyn College, losing 46–78. They win their first-ever game that season against Hillyer College (now University of Hartford) 47-37 at the Bridgeport Armory, Fairfield's original home court.

1949-01-01 13:48:15

Student Newspaper Renamed

The student newspaper is given a printed, professional look and officially renamed The Stag. The Stag runs from Sept. 23, 1949 through May 6, 1970.

1949-01-01 14:55:09

College Accredited

The College of Arts and Sciences is accredited by the State of Connecticut; the first summer session of undergraduate courses is held.

1950-01-01 03:36:43

Dogwood Festival

A major highlight for student activities is the annual Dogwood Festival, which features popular bands, a dance, a picnic at the beach and the crowning of the Dogwood Queen.

1950-01-01 14:55:09

First Graduate Classes Held

The first graduate classes in education are held on a coeducational basis; the Education Program for teacher certification is accredited by the state of Connecticut.

1951-01-01 14:55:09

Third President

Rev. Joseph D. Fitzgerald, S.J., becomes the third President of Fairfield University.

1951-06-01 14:55:09

First Commencement

Fairfield University celebrates its first commencement, with 210 graduates receiving diplomas and 4,000 guests in attendance. Degrees are conferred by Connecticut Governor John Davis Lodge in an outdoor ceremony on Alumni Field, and the Honorable Howard J. McGrath, Attorney General of the United States, is the keynote speaker.

1953-06-01 14:55:09

NEASC Accreditation

Fairfield University is admitted to fully-accredited membership in the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

1955-06-01 14:55:09

Loyola Hall Constructed

Loyola Hall is constructed as a much-needed residence hall for the growing student population; it is named for St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus and author of the Spiritual Exercises.

1956-03-01 14:55:09

Knights of Columbus Established

A Knights of Columbus group is established on campus — the Knights of Columbus Ignatian Council. The group is still active on campus today.

1957-01-01 03:36:43

Frisbees Fly on Campus

Playfully referred to as “Pluto Platters” in the student newspaper, frisbees make their first appearance on campus in 1957. Rumored to have started with the tossing of empty metal pie plates from the nearby Bridgeport Pie Company, the sport becomes a staple of beachside and family outdoor fun. Fairfield University has an official 12-hole disc golf course on campus, established in 1998.

1957-01-01 03:36:43

Gonzaga Hall Constructed

Gonzaga Hall is constructed primarily as a residence hall, and also contains an auditorium. The building is named for St. Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J., an Italian Jesuit who tended the sick during the Roman plague in 1591 and is the patron saint of youth.

1957-01-01 03:36:43

Canisius Hall Built

Canisius Hall is built for additional classroom and administrative space; it also houses the library on the main floor. It is named for St. Peter Canisius, S.J., founder of schools in Germany and the first Jesuit university president.

1958-01-01 03:36:43

Fourth President

Rev. James E. Fitzgerald, S.J., is appointed the fourth President of Fairfield University.

1959-01-01 03:36:43

Alumni Hall Completed

The Alumni Hall gymnasium is completed in 1959 and is the home to Fairfield’s athletic teams and many other events. The use of concrete arches in its construction gives it a unique shape, and the building is featured in architectural magazines of the time.

1960-01-01 04:12:24

Political Clubs Formed

Among its many student groups, the University sponsors both a Young Democrats Club and a Young Republicans Club. This photo was taken at the Bridgeport train station days before the presidential election of 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.

1960-01-01 08:59:16

Bisacca Leads Men’s Basketball

Under the guidance of Coach George Bisacca, the men’s basketball team experiences a streak of winning seasons and appears in three NCAA Division II Tournaments — 1960, 1961 and 1962.

1961-01-01 08:59:16

Giants Practice on Campus

The New York Giants football team holds their summer practice at on Alumni Field (locker rooms were in Loyola Hall) from 1961 through 1969 and also in 1974.

1961-01-01 08:59:16

Ray Charles Performs

Ray Charles is the featured act for Fairfield University’s annual Dogwood Festival in 1961 and then again in 1966.

1962-01-01 08:59:16

Playhouse Created

Once part of the Lashar estate, Southwell Hall is renovated in 1962 and turned into the Playhouse, hosting the Fairfield University Dramatic Society. The first production in the renovated space would be Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie in May 1963.

1962-01-01 08:59:16

The Voice of Fairfield Airs

The Voice of Fairfield, WVOF, gets its start on an AM frequency. In 1974, the "Voice of Fairfield" would begin FM broadcasting, covering a 10-mile radius from a tower on top of Canisius Hall. Originally reaching only the University community, WFOV now broadcasts to the world and is streamed live.

1963-01-01 08:59:16

Graduate School of Education

The Graduate Department of Education becomes the Graduate School of Education.

1963-01-01 08:59:16

Fairfield Team Wins College Bowl

Fairfield University wins three straight games on the nationally-broadcast NBC live television quiz show, College Bowl, sponsored by General Electric. The four-man student team from Fairfield is met at the train station in the early hours of the morning and cheered by their fellow students in celebration.

Fairfield University 75th Anniversary

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