University College Receives Two Distinguished Awards

News Story: December 21, 2007

Two innovative programs initiated by Sacred Heart University’s University College have earned recognition from two prestigious organizations. Both awards were presented to University representatives at awards ceremonies in October.

University College’s Center for Financial Education, located in Stamford received the Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership’s silver entry level Innovation Prize for its Series 7 Prep course. Additionally its Hispanic Marketing Initiative, introduced by UniversityCollege a year ago, was awarded the 2007 Outstanding Services to Underserved Population Program Award from the Association of Continuing Higher Education.

The ACHE award, which was presented at the 69th Annual Conference held at Virginia Tech University, coincides with National Nontraditional Student Recognition Week, which began Sunday and continues through November 10th.

“The Hispanic population is the fastest growing market in the area of continuing education,” said Nancy Sidoti, former dean of UC. “SHU’s UC reached out to the Hispanic community by translating its website into Spanish, creating bi-lingual radio advertisements and conducting focus groups to better understand the market.”

University College has also hired bilingual staff and developed a Financial Aid Resource Guide of scholarships targeted to specific part time student segments. Collaboration with various departments on campus to create partnerships in this initiative has been ongoing. The JandrisevitsLearningCenter has identified Spanish speaking tutors to assist part time students, the office of Financial Assistance has identified scholarships, and the office of Multicultural Affairs has met with the staff to develop joint programming.

According to a 2007 report on the Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic minorities in 2005, the U.S. population was 33% minorities with Hispanics as the largest minority at 14%. “As this demographic continues to culturally enrich the region it is vital that educational opportunities are developed with their specific needs in mind,” commented Mary Lou DeRosa, interim Dean of University College.

Dennis "Skip" Parks, the president of ACHE, said University College received the award for engaging the fastest growing population through its Hispanic Marketing Initiative. “Your work reflects the high excellence to which all ACHE members aspire,” Parks said in his letter to SHU officials. Representatives of UC have presented at five conferences throughout the country this year on the Hispanic Marketing Initiative.

The Connecticut Quality Improvement Award Partnership Innovation Prize is the second for Sacred Heart University. Last year the Center for Strategic Planning for Not-for-Profit Organizations, part of SHU’s John F. Welch College of Business, received the honor. UC’s Center for Financial Education was singled out for addressing a need in the financial fields through the introduction of its non-credit Series 7 Prep course.

To date, the course has experienced a 45 percent increase in enrollment with students traveling from as far as Maine and Albany, New York. Over 90 students have prepared to take the exam and 25 local corporations have employees participating in the program.

According to Sheila Carmine, founder and executive director of CQIAP, the Innovation Prize is based on several criteria including the introduction of an innovative new service, process or product that was not available in Connecticut in the previous five years and that solved a problem or leveraged an opportunity.

DeRosa said UC officials are proud to have received the back-to-back awards. “It’s external recognition and we’re doing something that may be implemented by other institutions.”