Sacred Heart University was founded in 1963 by the Most Reverend Walter W. Curtis, bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport from 1961 to 1988. It was established to provide the community with a quality liberal arts education for all at a local Catholic university. From its outset, the University bore the mark of innovation. Charting a new direction within American Catholicism, the University was to be led and staffed by lay people, independent and locally oriented, serving the needs of the diocese and of southwestern Connecticut.
Signs of the University’s growth and vibrancy are evident. Enrollment has risen from the original class of fewer than 200 undergraduate students to almost 7,000 full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students, and the faculty has increased from nine to 237 full-time professors. Over the years, Sacred Heart has grown to become the second-largest Catholic university in New England with students hailing from 48 states and 17 countries.
The University has enhanced the undergraduate student experience in many notable ways. In 1990, it accepted, for the first time, students who wanted the residential experience. It now has 10 residential buildings, with approximately 51% percent of the full-time undergraduates residing in University housing.
New degree programs and majors in relevant disciplines are regularly added to our curriculum, and the University now boasts doctoral programs in both Physical Therapy and Nursing Practice. The University offers Division I athletics with 31 varsity teams. The William H. Pitt Health and Recreation Center is available to all students and to the community at large, and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, dedicated in September 2009, has drawn international attention for its magnificent artwork. In the spring of 2012, the University dedicated its Linda E. McMahon Commons where students now gather to eat, socialize and study. Recognizing the importance of technology, Sacred Heart University was among the first campuses to offer a Mobile Computing Program and wireless environment.
The University consists of five colleges: the College of Arts & Sciences, the AACSB-accredited John F. Welch College of Business, the College of Health Professions, the NCATE-accredited Isabelle Farrington School of Education and University College, which is committed to the adult learner and whose evening, weekend and accelerated courses earn praise for their diversity and relevance to changing lifestyles.
An ever-widening outreach to the community balances the University's commitment to academic excellence. For instance, the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding (CCJU), which has earned the personal endorsement of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, has become a global leader in fostering interreligious dialogue. And closer to home, more than 1,500 students, faculty and staff members volunteer in excess of 50,000 hours to community service each year.