Our History

Reverend Walter W. Curtis

Most Reverend Walter W. CurtisSacred 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 over 8,500 full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students, and the faculty has increased from nine to 281 full-time professors. Over the years, Sacred Heart has grown to become the second-largest Catholic university in New England with students hailing from all 50 states and 34 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 11 residential buildings, with approximately 92% of first-year students and 59% percent of all undergraduates residing in University housing.

Sacred Heart University 50th Anniversary Logo‌New degree programs and majors in relevant disciplines are regularly added to our curriculum, and the University now offers more than 70 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its main campus in Fairfield, Conn., and satellites in Stamford, Luxembourg and Ireland.

The University consists of five colleges and two schools: College of Arts & SciencesSchool of Communication & Media ArtsSchool of Computing, the AACSB-accredited Jack Welch College of BusinessCollege of Health ProfessionsCollege of Nursing, and Isabelle Farrington School of Education.

The University offers Division I athletics with 32 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.

Sacred Heart was recently ranked Top 4 most innovative university as well as one of the best universities in the North, according to U.S. News & World Report’s guidebook, Best Colleges 2018. This is partly due to the University's remarkable expansion, innovation and growth over the last decade. The campus currently comprises more than 300 acres of land, including The Great River 18-Hole Golf Course and the former global headquarters of General Electric, which is now SHU’s West Campus. ‌The Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center is the new home of the Jack Welch College of Business and School of Communication & Media Arts, and our newest academic building, The Center for Healthcare Education, opened this fall with 117,000 square feet of exceptional laboratory and learning facilities. In addition, the campus boasts two new residence halls. ‌Located in the heart of campus, Jorge Bergoglio Hall houses over 200 sophomore students in two bedroom pods with a shared bathroom. And located in our newly constructed Upper Quad, Pierre Toussaint Hall, formerly know as the Jewish Home property, is a residential village including student housing and an old fashioned-themed dining hall, JP’s Diner.

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 85,000 hours to community service each year.

Old photo of SHU Campus