Scholarship Dinner to Honor Deborah Norville, John Ratzenberger, and Anthony J. Cernera

News Story:

Sacred Heart University will host its 19th Annual Discovery Awards and Scholarship Dinner on Wednesday, April 16th, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Old Greenwich.

Each year, the gala honors notable individuals while raising funds for student scholarships at Sacred Heart University. This year’s honorees include Inside Edition Anchor Deborah Norville; Bridgeport native and host of the Travel Channel’s Made in America John Ratzenberger and Sacred Heart University President Anthony J. Cernera, Ph.D.

SHU’s Discovery Dinner invites the community to recognize and celebrate the gifts of caring and accomplished people—those who embody the tradition of the University in their lives. They represent a wide diversity of professions but hold in common a passion for excellence and a devotion to their fellow citizens. Each is truly an educator showing by example the inestimable value of learning, leadership and service.


Deborah Norville, the host of Inside Edition, the nation’s top-rated syndicated newsmagazine, has been credited with bringing new strength and respect to the program. She was awarded a Gracie Award from the American Women in Radio and Television and the award from the National Women’s Political Caucus for her reporting from the “toughest jail in America.” She spent one week as an inmate at the Davidson County Jail in North Carolina, to show first-hand what conditions were like behind bars. She is also the author of several books, including her latest effort, Thank You Power:  Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You. In it, she shares the findings of two year’s of reporting on the research being done on the quantifiable benefits of living a grateful life. 

SHU alumnus John Ratzenberger is one of television’s most successful and well-known stars. A screenwriter, director, producer and multi-Emmy nominated actor, he initially captured the attention of the general public when he played mail carrier Clifford Clavin on Cheers. Still connected to his local roots, he actively participates in Bridgeport-area events and in recent years, he filmed footage in Bridgeport and Stratford for his show John Ratzenberger’s Made in America.  His passion for the manual arts is reflected in his charity Nuts, Bolts and Thingamajig Foundation. John started this as a response to the end of shop classes in schools and works to inspire the next generation of builders, craftsman, engineers, skilled workers and manufacturers. He is a trustee of his alma mater, SHU, where he earned a Doctorate of Humane Letters in 1992 for his contribution to the American Arts. 

Dr. Cernera assumed the presidency of SHU when he was just 38 years old, making him the youngest head of a leading center of higher education in America. This year, he celebrates 20 years of service as SHU’s fifth president. Under his leadership, the University has become the second-largest institution of Catholic higher education in New England and home to the John F. Welch College of Business. It has joined the ranks of the “best” in publications such as the Princeton Review’s Best 366 Colleges and U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2007. Among his many honors and achievements, Dr. Cernera also serves as the president of the International Federation of Catholic Universities.

Dave Price, weatherman and a feature reporter for CBS News' The Early Show, will be the master of ceremonies for the evening. Event chairs are Sacred Heart University Trustees Mark E. Freitas, president & COO of Frank Crystal & Company; Linda McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment; and Bill Mitchell, vice chairman of Mitchells of Westport and Richards of Greenwich.

The gala event begins with a reception at 6:00 p.m. followed by the dinner program at 7:00 p.m.

Last year, the Discovery Dinner raised more than $500,000 for financial assistance to deserving scholars.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. Individual tickets are $500. All proceeds will benefit the University’s Scholarship Fund.  For more information and reservations, call 203-365-4802.