Thousands Returned to Campus for #AFW
Thousands of alumni and parents returned to campus for a milestone Alumni and Family Weekend (AFW). A packed schedule of events that drew alumni and parents back to campus included networking panels, sports games where alumni played the students, Varsity Sports matches, the Friends of Men's Lacrosse Dinner, the Taste of Fairfield food truck fair, a Fairfield Rising Campaign Expo, and the Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA) fall concert that featured The Temptations Review Featuring Dennis Edwards and Matt and Kim. This year's AFW also celebrated the public launch of Fairfield Rising, the largest fundraising campaign in the University’s history.
“AFW puts into action the idea of “Once a Stag, Always a Stag” and the warm nature of the Fairfield community,” said Colleen Wilson, assistant director of Student Programs in the Office of Student Engagement, who planned and executed the weekend’s activities with support from student groups and other University offices.
The Taste of Fairfield food truck fair included 11 vendors from the town of Fairfield with a few alumni businesses featured in the line-up; The Caseus Cheese Truck (owned by alumnus Tom Sobocinski ’14), The Local Meatball (owned by Michael and alumna Anne Elizabeth DiStassio ’01), and Milford Soft Serve (owned by alumnus Patrick Cole ’95).
“The location of the food trucks on Leeber Road really gave the event a festive atmosphere,” said Assistant Vice President of Administration, Jim Fitzpatrick ’70, MA'72. “The pride of both the families and alumni coming back to campus was contagious!”
Fitzpatrick, who has attended 47 past AFW's and recalls attending with his father all four years as a Fairfield undergrad, also said that the Sunday morning Mass with Rev. Charles Allen, S.J., was really special and the Sodexo Sunday brunch was one of the best ever.
The concert, co-sponsored by FUSA, took place in the University’s new Rafferty Stadium and was attended by 2,300 people; a crowd comprised of both current students and visiting families.
“Both artists were incredibly entertaining, engaged with the audience, and encouraged participation. Especially memorable was our Mascot, Lucas, who dove into the crowd and was surfing,” said Wilson, commenting on the way the concert appealed to all ages and was evidence of the magnitude of Fairfield pride that exists both on and off campus.
The new 3,500-seat Rafferty Stadium is named in recognition of the principal leadership gift from Larry Rafferty ’64 and his family, and the field is named in acknowledgment of a gift from Tim Conway ’76 and his family. Both donations are a part of the Fairfield Rising Campaign that launched publicly with an Expo on Saturday that showcased some of the latest campus innovations as well as campaign initiatives and highlighted ways to get involved. The Expo took place in a tented area in front of the stadium and was sponsored by The Fairfield Fund and the Fairfield Alumni Association.
AFW was a distinctive way for the Fairfield community to celebrate proud traditions and enjoy the positive transformations at the University. Andrew McMahon '89 P'13, University Trustee, said he always enjoys AFW, but that this year in particular, the energy and engagement were terrific.
“The Expo tent was a terrific demonstration; sharing all that is going on at Fairfield, plus the vision for the future,” he continued. “What a great way to rally energy behind the Fairfield Rising Campaign.”
(Pictured: Balloons launching into the crowd during the Matt & Kim set; Lucas the Stag Crowd Surfing during FUSA concert; Lucas gives a future Stag a Fairfield high-five.)