Innovative Center for Healthcare Education Celebrated at Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

News Story: September 28, 2017
College of Health Professions Dean Patricia Walker and College of Nursing Dean Mary Alice Donius are joined by
President John Petillo, students and guests for the Center for Healthcare Education ribbon cutting.

Watch video of the ceremony

Sacred Heart University has unveiled its new Center for Healthcare Education at 4000 Park Ave., Bridgeport, where students already are accessing the latest technology and modern features the facilty offers.

One great advantage of the new center is the ability of faculty and students to offer multi-professional clinics that will expose students and patients alike to a collaborative, holistic approach to services for everyone from children to the elderly. Disciplines that will collaborate in patient services include athletic training, exercise science, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant and speech-language pathology.

Rupendra Paliwal, provost and vice president for academic affairs, welcomed the group gathered for the dedication, which included students, faculty, senior administrators, staff and special guests: State Senator Tony Hwang; State Representatives Cristin McCarthy-Vahey and Steve Strafstrom; Dan Roach from Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim’s office; and Michael Tetreau, first selectman of Fairfield. Paliwal called the new building “interesting, dynamic and architecturally compelling…a testament to Sacred Heart University’s growth, vision, innovation, dedication to academic excellence, service to the community and commitment to compassionate caring.”

For years, the College of Health Professions and College of Nursing operated at SHU’s Cambridge campus building in nearby Trumbull, but it had outgrown the space there. So, in June 2015, construction crews broke ground on the new site and began building the three-story, 120,000-square-foot center and 50,000-square-foot parking garage that now sit on 8.7 acres near the main campus.

The building—a $65 million investment for the University—was designed by SLAM, a national architectural firm based in Glastonbury that also is working on the University of Notre Dame’s Campus Crossroads project.

Patricia Walker, dean of the College of Health Professions, provided specifics, noting that the facilities will “allow a closer relationship between academics and the surrounding communities by adding to our service offerings with hearing testing in our new audiology suite, driving assessments in our driving simulator and sports performance injury prevention and wellness-oriented services throughout our expanded motion analysis and human performance laboratories.”

The center also will drive efficiency. For instance, an immersive, acute-care simulation lab with video and data-capture capability will provide enhanced feedback on student performance in a clinical setting. Instructors no longer have to physically watch over students as they go through a simulation; instead, instructors can record a video and provide guidance afterward alongside the students.

“In addition to allowing us to have new types of labs with emerging technologies, the rooms are larger, allowing collaborative activities involving more than one program,” Walker said. “New social spaces both inside and outside the building will encourage more interaction among students and between faculty and students. The center is also closer to the main campus and will allow our faculty and students to participate more in University events. We are grateful to the University leadership for giving us this opportunity.”

The College of Health Professions includes more than 1,000 undergraduate, post-baccalaureate and graduate students and 56 full-time faculty members. It offers bachelor’s degrees, graduate certificate programs, master’s degree programs and a doctoral program in physical therapy.

Speaking on behalf of SHU’s College of Nursing, Dean Mary Alice Donius said, “There are many exciting opportunities for our nursing students—not only to practice on our state-of-the-art mannequins and actors, but to collaborate on cases with students in the other health disciplines. This will ensure that students in all the disciplines will be prepared for the kind of interactions they will experience when they begin to work in professional health care settings.”

Donius called the building “extraordinary,” providing the “foundation for untold opportunities for creative and innovative teaching and learning,” though, she said, “It is the faculty and students that will bring the structure to life.”

Nursing student Rebecca Lee ’18, who is president of the Student Nurses Association, commended SHU’s excellent nursing faculty and added that the school “now has the right tools and very best state-of-the-art facility to train the next generation of health care professionals.”

The College of Nursing has 1,400 students in undergraduate, graduate and online programming and 37 full-time faculty members. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a post-master doctoral degree in nursing practice. The University’s nursing program was ranked fourth in Connecticut by the online nursing service,, because of SHU graduates’ high pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nursing, a standardized test that candidates must pass to practice nursing.

Offering final remarks before Father Tony Ciorra blessed the site, SHU President John J. Petillo said, “The expanded space and updated equipment will offer new opportunities for learning and ensure that students graduate well prepared and ready to make their mark in the booming health care industry."

Going forward throughout the year, health care workshops and lectures will be scheduled to highlight the new venue and inform the community about the importance of health care.

For more information on the Center for Healthcare Education, visit

CHE Ribbon Cutting 9/22/17