SHU to Honor Canadian College President and Catholic Scholar

News Story: September 7, 2008

Fairfield, Connecticut -- Sacred Heart University will bestow an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Dr. Michael W. Higgins, the president and vice-chancellor of St. Thomas Universityin Fredericton, New Brunswick. The honors will take place during the University’s annual Freshman Convocation on September 3rd in the William H. Pitt Health and Recreation Center on campus, beginning at 2 P.M.

Dr. Higgins, a scholar in English and in religious studies, will address the University’s 975 first-year students. His topic is “The Science of the Heart and the University as a Seat of Wisdom.” It is the centerpiece of three days on campus during which he will meet with several faculty and other groups. One of Canada’s leading Catholic educators, he will explore a number of related subjects during his stay including “The Continuing Aggiornomento and the Role of Catholic Universities.” Two addresses, in the Pitt Center Boardroom, are free and open to the public. On Wednesday, September 3, at 10 A.M., he will explore “It’s Tough Being God These Days: Religion and the Media and Why We Need to Get It Right.” The following day, also at 10, he will discuss “Thomas Merton: Icon of Reason in a Riven World.”

Dr. Higgins is a magna cum laude graduate in English of St. Francis Xavier University. He earned a second bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Toronto. He received his master’s and a doctorate in English from York University. His began his career in 1974 by teaching English and religious studies at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto. Later assignments included serving as the director of the St. Jerome’s Centre for Catholic Experience at St. Jerome’s University, where he was also a professor of English and religious studies and director of the Institute for Studies in Theological Renewal. After leading St. Jerome’s University as president and vice-chancellor for seven years, he assumed similar responsibilities at St. Thomas.

A prolific author, Dr. Higgins’ books include Thomas Merton; Pilgrim in Progress; Women and the Church: A Sourcebook; The Jesuit Mystique; and Stalking the Holy: In Pursuit of Saint-Making. He has a long career as a documentarian and a writer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and he served as the chief consultant for Sir Peter Ustinov’s Inside the Vatican. In addition, he was a columnist for many years for The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail.

Founded in 1910, St. Thomas University is unique in Canadian higher education in that its sole focus is on liberal arts education. With an enrollment of 2,600 students, who come from 49 countries, STU is consistently ranked one of the finest undergraduate colleges in Canada.

The Class of 2012 at Sacred Heart will join a campus community of close to 5,900 students. The University has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review for the excellence of its academic programs and its robust campus life. SHU’s new Core Curriculum, nine years in the making, has earned praise as a national model for educating students in moral values. With programs at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels, the University is well known for its award-winning extracurricular and volunteer offerings. Its Habitat for Humanity campus chapter, for example, was judged one of the top five programs in the country.