New Academic Building Will House McLeod Center for Interactive Learning

Christopher and Elaine McLeod

News Story: November 4, 2013

Elaine and Christopher K. McLeod of Branford have announced a $500,000 gift through the McLeod Blue Skye Charitable Foundation, Inc. in support of Sacred Heart University’s new academic building and the establishment therein of the McLeod Center for Interactive Learning. Located at the corner of Jefferson Street and Park Avenue, the building will provide a new gateway to the University’s Fairfield campus.

The Center for Interactive Learning will provide opportunities for training and research about teaching practices that involve students in their own learning. These practices, typically referred to as high-impact practices, include a wide range of activities such as undergraduate research, global learning, service learning and writing-intensive and experiential-learning courses. “The research indicates that students learn more when they are involved in these learning strategies that are provided by the faculty. The digital learning environment provides additional opportunities to enhance learning via online and web-based teaching. We look forward to operating at the cutting edge of new digital pedagogies,” said Laura Niesen de Abruna, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Mr. McLeod has been a member of the Sacred Heart Board of Trustees since 1989. He has served in numerous capacities, including as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board. He currently is the Board secretary. Mr. McLeod is an investor and advisor in early stage life science companies, including AxioMx, Inc. in Branford of which he is co-founder and CEO. Previously, he was president and chief executive officer of 454 Life Sciences Corporation, also based in Branford. He earned his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, with a dual major in economics and engineering and applied science, from Yale University and his master’s in management from the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The McLeod Center for Interactive Learning will provide professors with access and training in the utilization of the latest technology in support of classroom and online teaching tools.

“People learn in many different ways. Traditional instructional methods have emphasized textbooks and classroom lectures. Digital technologies are now removing geographic and time barriers, enabling exciting new educational approaches,” Mr. McLeod said. “Elaine and I are very interested in improving the learning experience through new teaching methods and approaches. Sacred Heart has an ideal environment for developing innovative pedagogy, and we are excited to support the establishment of this Center.”

“New technology and new ways of learning make this the ideal time to launch a center like this one. I know our faculty will appreciate the chance to both learn and contribute to the development of new programs and processes,” said University President John J. Petillo. “We also greatly appreciate the generosity of Chris and Elaine in support of the University and the hard work and many contributions that Chris provides to the Board.”

In addition to the Center, the new academic building will feature an active trading floor; two large studios for television, video and film production, as well as industry-standard post-production facilities, screening venues and multimedia classrooms; an amphitheater-style forum that will provide reconfiguration options for classes and events of various sizes and will allow the University to organize and/or host high-level conferences and events; a two-story atrium; satellite-equipped classrooms for interaction with other University campuses; classrooms for use by the entire University; faculty offices; conference rooms and lounges for meetings between faculty and students; a café and elegant landscaping infused with walking paths and benches for informal meetings.