Lecture Series Wins 'Program of the Year' Award

News Story: November 21, 2007

Sacred Heart University’s Student Affairs Lecture Series has been honored with the 2007 “Program of the Year” award by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). This year’s lecturers have included political journalist Bob Woodward, Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza, Broadway actor Anthony Rapp and television personality Robin Roberts.

The award was presented at NASPA’s Region 1 Conference, held November 4 to 7 in Burlington, Vermont. The Connecticut NASPA Board noted that “the Lecture Series focuses on learning outside of the classroom as well as the collaboration among Student Affairs, Academic Affairs and Student Government as being a model for Student Affairs programming.”

The Student Affairs Lecture Series was launched in 2005 under the guidance of Denise Tiberio, SHU’s associate dean of students and chair of the Lecture Series Committee.

Tiberio says that choosing each year’s lecture lineup has been challenging, particularly because the committee tries to intertwine their choices with the university’s curricula.

“It’s a lot of effort,” she says. “We do an outreach to try to find out what the students would want to see, and we contact faculty members to see what would be a fit for the university. Student Affairs shouldn’t be just parties and dances—it should also support learning outside the classroom.”

One of the series’ biggest successes was Ilibagiza, author of Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, who spoke at the university in September.

“We saw a spot about her on 60 Minutes last year, about how she was about living in a closet for three months, and we thought she’d be an incredible speaker for our series,” Tiberio says. “Then we also saw that she had a book, so we approached the academic area and asked if they’d incorporate that into their freshman reading assignment.”

The synergy created “a phenomenal response,” Tiberio says, forcing the committee to expand the lecture to two sessions, with each attracting over 700 attendees.

Speakers scheduled for the remainder of the current academic year are Lisa Ling, television journalist for the National Geographic Channel and the Oprah Winfrey Show (Dec. 4); Judea Pearl, computer scientist and father of journalist Daniel Pearl who was executed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002 (Feb. 4); Tony Dungy, coach of the NFL’s Super Bowl-champion Indianapolis Colts (Feb. 19); and ABC news anchor Lee Woodruff (March 27). All the lectures are open to the public.

“We really tried to challenge ourselves to bring in speakers who we thought would work well with our outside community, but who would also challenge our students and help our faculty,” Tiberio says. “It’s definitely something that the media students and political science department have embraced, and that’s nice as well.”

Other past lecturers included former NFL football player Tiki Barber and television personality Tim Russert.

According to its website, NASPA, founded in 1918, “is the largest professional association for student affairs administrators, faculty and graduate students.” Its mission is “to provide professional development and advocacy for student affairs educators and administrators who share the responsibility for a campus-wide focus on the student experience.”