History & Heritage


Early Years

Fairleigh Dickinson University enjoyed three decades of rapid growth, becoming the largest private university in New Jersey. This period also was marked by the expansion of the university overseas, with the establishment of campuses or facilities in the United Kingdom, St. Croix, and Israel. During this period, Fairleigh Dickinson University began to internationalize the curriculum with the development of its University Core program and welcomed increasing numbers of international students, who were drawn by the university's diverse program offerings and its location near New York City.

International Campuses

Wroxton College

When Fairleigh Dickinson University opened Wroxton College in 1965, it became the first American higher-education institution to own a campus overseas. With its idyllic location close to Stratford- upon-Avon, London and Birmingham, thae "Wroxton Experience" is ideal for those studying literature, Shakespeare or theater. But Wroxton is so much more than that, and many other subjects — from criminal justice to business administration — are offered there. Students live and study in the 17th-century Jacobean mansion known as Wroxton Abbey. In addition to full semesters, Wroxton offers many shorter programs. Set in the rural heart of England, Wroxton offers a peaceful environment for learning amid a beautiful countryside of lawns, lakes, gardens and woodland. The College itself continues to meet its founding vision of an intellectual community, cloistered in an idyllic setting.


FDU West Indies Laboratory

In 1972, Fairleigh Dickinson University dedicated its second overseas campus, the West Indies Laboratory at St. Croix, U.S.Virgin Islands. Because of significant damage to the West Indies Laboratory by Hurricane Hugo, the facility was closed in 1990. Today, the University's marine biology programs make use of facilities on the Samana Peninsula on the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic. The main building, FDU Hall, houses both living and laboratory facilities. A small salt marsh area and coral reef are near FDU Hall. On the north end of the peninsula is a barrier reef. Many of the beaches are in coves that are surrounded by large rocks that attract snails, barnacles and mussels.


FDU in Israel

Fairleigh Dickinson University opened its third international campus in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1996. Although the campus was closed in 2002, FDU has continued to be active in Israel. In 2009, as part of its Two Words program, FDU signed agreements with two universities in Israel — the School for Overseas Students of Tel Aviv University and the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – and launched the FDU Freshman (Gap) Year in Israel Program, which allows students to study in Israel for one year before returning to FDU to finish their degrees.

FDU in the Vietnam Era

Like many American universities, Fairleigh Dickinson was home to an intense debate over the justice of the Vietnam War. Many FDU students and alumni served in the conflict, among them Major Herman Force, who earned associates, bachelors and masters degrees at FDU. In addition to his service in Vietnam, Force served in the Korean War and World War II, during which he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Oakleaf Cluster as a member of the 10th Armored Division. A Peace activist, conscientious objector, and self-described "political criminal" Stephen Spiro earned bachelors and masters degrees from FDU in 1967 and 1972. Convicted in 1967 of avoiding conscription (i.e., "draft dodging"), Spiro was given a suspended sentence of five years and was subsequently granted a full pardon by President Gerald Ford.


International Students

FDU has enjoyed great success in attracting international students who see a chance not only to gain a strong educational background but also to experience a multicultural and multinational environment. Their presence further enhances the FDU campuses and brings another dimension to the University's classrooms. FDU Founder Peter Sammartino appreciated the importance of better understanding the homelands of the university's international students and made a point of visiting the families of students on his frequent trips abroad. FDU's position as a leader in the instruction of international students has been helped greatly by the diversity of its programs, its overseas programs, its proximity to New York City and the fact that the University has established a successful and well-networked group of international alumni. In 1999, the University had approximately 700 students from more than 60 countries, ranking 18th in the United States among master's institutions, according to the Institute of International Education (IEE). (By 2008, the IEE ranked FDU 9th among master's-level institutions nationwide in the number of international students studying on campus, with nearly 1,300 international students from approximately 90 countries.)


University Core Program

At Fairleigh Dickinson University, we believe that global education calls upon students to imagine themselves as global citizens, looking both at and beyond their nation, their sub-national group identities, and their selves. Our interdisciplinary University Core Curriculum, required of all undergraduate students, is the cornerstone of such an education.Established in 1986, the University Core program exposed every FDU student to a wide world of ideas and perspectives. The American Association of Colleges and Universities honored the FDU Core in 1989 by selecting it one of nine programs in the United States to serve as a model for other institutions. In addition, the development of FDU's Core curriculum has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New Jersey Department of Higher Education and the Mellon Foundation. In 2004, "The Global Challenge", then the first course in the University Core sequence, was named the Best Online Course in the country by the Instructional Technology Council (ITC).