Robert Dilenschneider, a Darien writer and founder of the Dilenschneider Group, a communications consulting firm, will address a Nov. 7 gathering of business people and professionals at Fairfield University.

The program will begin with a Mass led at 9 a.m. by Bishop William Lori of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport in the university's Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola. A breakfast will follow in the Oak Room of the Barone Campus Center. The event is co-sponsored by Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life and the Fairfield County Chapter of Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice, a lay-led Vatican organization founded by Pope John Paul II for education and evangelization of Catholic social doctrine through business, professional and academic leaders.

Dilenschneider, citing what he believes is a crisis in American education, said in a statement: "Our global competitors are building schools and universities that support the skill sets of the 21st century. America no longer has a monopoly on the great institutions of higher education, and our school system no longer better prepares for the future than our competitors." The nation's high school dropout rate stands at 25 percent -- one out of every four students fails to graduate, he says. For African-American, Hispanic and low-income students, the rate is 40 percent. The high school graduation rate for some of the nation's largest cities is 53 percent, and about 7,000 students drop out of high school every day, he says

Technology, according to Dilenschneider, is causing American young people to lose their ability to communicate. And another troubling sign, he said, citing a recent poll by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, is that more than half of young people ages 19 to 29 do not have confidence in the nation's leaders and almost two-thirds believe the country is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to values.

The program is open to the public, but seating is limited. Individual tickets are $45; deadline for reservations is Oct. 29. To register online, visit For more information, contact Cindy Russo at 203-254-4000, ext. x2927, or

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