President, Fairfield University
On July 1, 2017, Mark R. Nemec, Ph.D. became the ninth Ignatian and first lay President of Fairfield University.
Working with his senior leadership team, constituents across campus, and the University’s alumni and civic communities, President Nemec has positioned Fairfield to be a modern, Jesuit, Catholic university of national prominence — committed to lifelong learning, holistic formation, and expansive partnerships while instantiating academic excellence, fostering comprehensive achievement, and advancing educational access.
Under President Nemec’s leadership, Fairfield has renewed its commitment to the nearly 500-year-old traditions of Jesuit pedagogy, with an emphasis on care for the whole student, and a broad-based liberal arts and sciences foundation. This values-based, student-centric, outcomes-focused approach is designed to form people who will live and work 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 by 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.
In particular, since 2018, Fairfield has launched successful online graduate programs in business, nursing, education, engineering and the arts and social sciences to complement its on-campus programs. In addition, Fairfield has expanded to provide business graduate programs to students in China and India, and recently opened a satellite campus in Austin, TX to provide graduate nursing programs to meet a regional nursing shortage in that area.
Under Dr. Nemec’s stewardship, the University’s Ignatian commitment to provide access to education to traditionally underserved communities has also expanded. In addition to significantly increasing need-based financial aid, the University’s Company Scholars program offers full funding and enhanced programing to select first-generation, Jesuit high school and Cristo Rey graduates. And in partnership with the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, Fairfield has established Fairfield Bellarmine: a campus in Bridgeport that offers a no-cost associate’s degree program for traditionally underserved high school graduates, offering a pathway toward a four-year degree.
President Nemec has also led the largest capital campaign in University history, exceeding an original goal of $160 million to raise a total of $218 million to benefit the University. The fulfilment of a University master plan to enhance the campus environment under his stewardship has brought new facilities and enhanced technological infrastructure, and has included the completion of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business facility, the School of Engineering and Computing Innovation Annex, the Barnyard Townhouses, and the Leo D. Mahoney Arena amongst others.
A graduate of Loyola High School in Los Angeles, President Nemec earned a B.A. in English from Yale, where he was an All-Ivy League rugby player. He received a M.A. in education and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan. Early in his career, he taught American politics as a visiting assistant professor at Davidson College, and as an instructor at the University of Michigan.
Prior to joining Fairfield, Dr. Nemec served as the dean of the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies at the University of Chicago. Before joining the University of Chicago, Dr. Nemec served as president and chief executive officer of Eduventures, a Boston-based information services firm providing research and advice to the higher education community. He had previously been a member of the executive team of Forrester Research, a provider of similar services to the technology industry.
Dr. Nemec is the author of Ivory Towers and Nationalist Minds: Universities, Leadership, and the Development of the American State (University of Michigan Press, 2006), and a contributor to The Educational Legacy of Woodrow Wilson (University of Virginia Press, 2012).
Beyond his research on the role of higher education in American political development, Dr. Nemec has been a frequent speaker on the current and future state of higher education and has presented to a diverse array of audiences including the White House’s Forum on College Affordability, the British Council’s Going Global, the New England Board of Higher Education’s Summit on Cost in Higher Education, and the annual meetings of numerous higher education associations.
Dr. Nemec serves as Chair of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges and Vice Chair of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Council of Presidents. He also serves on the Educational Resources Committee of Loyola High School, and is a fellow of Timothy Dwight College of Yale University. For his and the University’s commitment to educational access, he has been honored with Brooklyn Jesuit Prep’s Sister Thea Bowman Award, Cristo Rey New York’s Ensuring our Future Award, as well as the Archdiocese of Bridgeport’s Foundations in Education Award.
Dr. Nemec was welcomed into the Fairfield community with his wife, Suzanne, and their four children: Alex, Teddy, Philip and Kit. In addition to his role as President of Fairfield University, Dr. Nemec also joined the politics department as a professor within the College of Arts and Sciences.