The Year in Review
Dear Members of the University Community:
Throughout my career in education and business, I’ve observed a common characteristic shared by all great corporations, organizations and educational institutions: They excel only if they develop a culture of accountability and “continuous improvement” in which everyone can participate. It is a fundamental principle of excellence.
Blessed John Henry Newman said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” So let us strive for perfection as students, as educators and as Catholics.
At Sacred Heart University, we deal with change every day, and in the past few months, we’ve seen the pace accelerate. This has clearly been a year of change for us, certainly for myself after leaving my position as dean of the Jack Welch College of Business to serve as interim president.
With the new year approaching, it does us well to reflect on the past 12 months and what we have achieved as an institution, working together toward our commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition.
You should all be proud of the past year because it was filled with many praiseworthy accomplishments.
In September, we welcomed the largest freshman class in our history, and the student body now numbers more than 6,000. At the same time, we saw the launch of the University’s second doctoral program – in Nursing Practice. It joins the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and confirms SHU’s stature as a leader in allied health education. In addition, we added two new master’s degrees, in Communication and Environmental Systems Analysis and Management.
We should all be proud that U.S. News and Princeton Review continue to rank SHU among the best universities and that we have received the highest federal recognition possible for our commitment to service learning and civic engagement in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Last year, our students volunteered more than 43,000 hours in service to the community. The Thanksgiving drive brought in more than 500 turkeys for needy families, and SHU’s Habitat for Humanity is co-sponsoring a new home in Bridgeport, which broke ground last week, to name just two recent examples of our commitment to the greater community.
Our core curriculum is a nationally recognized model in values education, and the Lilly Foundation will sponsor a national forum in 2012 for educators to learn about The Human Journey and how they might employ its formula for success at their own institutions.
For the third year, our athletics program received the NEC Commissioner’s Cup as the best overall in the conference, and University Business honored the University’s IT center, “The Factory,” as a national model of efficiency.
We celebrated the first anniversary of the dedication of our Chapel of the Holy Spirit, which has become the heart of our community. The Chapel has received the Honor Award for Design Excellence from the Boston Society of Architects and its People’s Choice Award.
Expansions of the physical plant include the creation of a dramatic new Atrium and Courtyard for the Academic Building as well as substantial upgrades to our campuses in Trumbull. At the same time, work is progressing on the Student Commons building, which will bring together a number of critical functions, including new dining facilities and a bookstore. The building will have expanded areas for students and alumni to gather socially.
Clearly, we should be proud of these accomplishments.
In recent months I’ve talked with many of you and heard your concerns. I have always believed that an institution committed to collegiality and transparency provides the best environment for growth. This is the kind of environment we must create at all levels at Sacred Heart University.
Your outpouring of encouragement for me during this transition has been heartening. I’m convinced that our sense of community and cooperation is one of Sacred Heart’s greatest assets. I want to thank you for your many offers of assistance and advice, which I greatly value.
In the coming months, I urge you to join me in the cause of continuous improvement at Sacred Heart as we strive to collegially develop a University Strategic Plan. Let us go forward together with that goal in mind.
John J. Petillo, Ph.D.