Inspirational Great Minds Exhibit and Lecture Series Opens April 2 at Sacred Heart

News Story: March 13, 2019

Great Minds Collection

Sacred Heart University will commence its Great Minds lecture series April 2 as part of a wide-ranging plan to showcase its expansive Great Minds art collection. Donated by Dick and Jane Resnick, the Great Minds Collection is a series of stylized portraits of individuals whose strength of mind, sense of purpose and character have contributed to art, philosophy, religion, science, literature, music and political leadership in world history.

“This rich educational tapestry exemplifies the wishes of the Resnicks – and of Sacred Heart University – to see this exhibit as a catalyst for examination, discussion, learning and disagreement,” said SHU President John J. Petillo. “As a liberal arts college devoted to the Catholic intellectual tradition, we see this collection as a way to strengthen our reputation as a respected liberal arts university and, in fact, to bolster the importance of pursuing a liberal arts education.”

“Jane and I are thrilled that the Great Minds Collection has found a permanent home at Sacred Heart,” Dick Resnick said. “We’re especially gratified that the University is dedicated to keeping the original intent of this collection: To educate in the liberal tradition and stimulate discussion and debate; to encourage further study by making vivid historical perspectives relevant to the present; to foster tolerance in the hope that people, regardless of their differences, can find common ground for the advancement of society.”

The inaugural lecture will feature Michael W. Higgins, distinguished professor of Catholic thought. It will begin at 7 p.m. at the University’s West Campus, in its East Building auditorium, and is free and open to the public. The lecture will be followed by the formal opening of The Great Minds Collection and a reception.

The range of subjects represented is extensive, including notable scholars and luminaries such as Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, William Shakespeare, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Buddha, Confucius, Aristotle, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Virginia Woolf, Jesus of Nazareth, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sigmund Freud, Margaret Sanger and Oprah Winfrey.

Works in the Great Minds Collection were created by Robin Morris of Miami, FL. Each piece is accompanied by corresponding biographies written by Jane Resnick and captured in a complementary book. Many of the exhibit pieces involve mixed media, linking portraits with thoughtful words evoking inspiration, reflection and contemplation.

“Great minds, whether in art, literature, philosophy or science, address fundamental questions of human existence, purpose and meaning,” said Michelle Loris, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Catholic studies chair. “Michael Higgins is a highly respected and accomplished author and lecturer and is the perfect scholar to kick off this series and the formal opening.”

Higgins is a biographer, author and co-author of more than 20 books, a documentarian and former university president. His lecture, “An Enchiridion for the Wise,” will explore the value and richness of a liberal arts education, says Higgins, adding that “great minds” are not about “encyclopedic storehouses” or comprehensive systems of meaning. Rather, he says, they reflect creative insight, intuitive perceptions initiated by simple or commonplace occurrences, and extraordinary vision.

“Visual artists, poets and novelists, social and political philosophers and religious thinkers all have their role to play in accompanying scientists, engineers and techno wizards in exploring the inexhaustible riches that constitute the human enterprise,” Higgins says. “Great minds liberate us; they live the reality of the liberal arts philosophy. They are pioneers of the spirit.”

The exhibit, which is on display in a newly renovated art space at the entrance to SHU’s West Campus, will reside in the foyer of the University’s East Building, soon to become the gateway to this campus dedicated to business, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. The West Campus is the former GE headquarters facility, and the entrance to the East Building was previously used as an exhibit space.

Sponsored by the University’s Human Journey Core Colloquia Series, additional lectures will be announced in the coming months.