Happy Senior Week! The week has been jam-packed with activities with still more to come! I very much enjoyed the Presidential Brunch yesterday. It was great to see all of you seniors relaxing and enjoying the break in between finals and commencement. I also enjoyed the graduation receptions at the College of Education and University College. I understand the evening activities have been fun as well. Students who participated in last night’s trip to Mohegan Sun were treated to a private concert by 50 Cent, and I hear our old friends Boomer and Carton were on hand as well.
I also had dinner this week with the resident success assistants. They are a special group, and I know we all appreciate everything they do to ensure that the residential life experience is a good one.
There is still more to look forward to, and I am especially excited about the family dinner dance on Saturday. It is always a great time and so nice to celebrate with both students and their families. I also always look forward to the pinning ceremony for our graduating nursing students. It is a special and moving event that commemorates all their hard work.
All of these activities lead up to the grand finale—commencement! We have two outstanding commencement speakers this year. Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company, will share his thoughts at Graduate Commencement on Saturday, while George Mitchell, former U.S. senator and senate majority leader from Maine, will address the Undergraduate Commencement crowd on Sunday. I want to encourage all of you who will be at the commencement ceremonies to take lots of photos and share them on social media. The hashtag for commencement social media is #PIONEER15.
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of presenting diplomas at the Senior Athletics Gala to four members of the women’s rowing team who will be unable to attend commencement because they will be rowing in the MAC championship on Sunday. Congratulations to Lauren DuFresne, Alissa Kneeland, Allison McCusker and Jaclyn Smith. And we wish you and the rest of the rowing team the best of luck on Sunday. Go Pioneers!
I want to take a moment to share a story that shows the positive impact students can have in the local neighborhood. There are four young men who attend SHU and live next door to a woman named Ruth. The boys have developed a special friendship with Ruth. They help her out when she needs it, and she provides a family-like presence that eases any feelings of homesickness. In fact, one of the boys—Joey Falcone—recently participated in the Mr. SHU contest, and Ruth was right there to cheer him on. She even came on stage to present him with flowers. I know I was one of many who thought they were related. What a nice surprise to find that she is his neighbor here at college. I know that many of you are out there helping your neighbors shovel snow, rake leaves, move heavy boxes, etc. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.
In addition to all the events with the seniors this week, we also had the annual appreciation barbecue for faculty and staff. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. The food was great, the music was terrific and the weather cooperated. It was wonderful to see everyone taking a moment to celebrate another great year here at SHU.
As always, I am thrilled to acknowledge the accomplishments of our incredible faculty and students. Last week was the annual faculty awards event where we honor members of the faculty who have been promoted, received tenure or a sabbatical award. We also honored a group of faculty with research grants and grants for their creative teaching techniques—in particular the use of the high-impact practices that we have been focused on for the past few years.
This past Friday night, the freshmen students from the Welch College of Business presented their ideas and business plans for a new business or product. This year, a new requirement for freshmen business students was the Intro to Business class which involved groups of four or five students working together to research the feasibility of their business idea. I want to congratulate all of the students for doing an outstanding job In particular, congratulations to Nicole Cavataro, Katerina Christopoulos, Kristen Citerella, Christina Dimauro and Jacqueline Foley who won the Poster Session prize for their solar-powered heated sleeping bag that also serves a phone charger. And big kudos to Cameron Bernstein, Cara Connery, Daniel Cohen and Patrick Skinner who took the top prize for their presentation on Weel-Dee—an application that introduces student renters to landlords who want to rent to students.
I also want to congratulate Derick Horn and John Bellucci. These two students in our MSA program have passed all four parts of the CPA exam even before completing their coursework. This is no easy feat. They are well on their way to a successful career.
A round of applause also to SHU Upward Bound student Breianna Campbell who has been named Barnum Festival Queen. With her excellent grades and winning personality, she is the perfect choice to represent Bridgeport at this annual celebration.
I also want to give a nod to our women’s outdoor track & field team for winning the NEC championship. Their hard work and commitment has been rewarded. Congratulations also to their coach, Christian Morrison, who was named NEC Coach of the Year for both cross country and indoor track & field.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to congratulate all of you who will be graduating this weekend. Your hard work has paid off, and the trustees, administration, faculty and staff join your family in friends in being extremely proud of you. We have enjoyed every minute that we have spent with you. Your enthusiasm, curiosity and commitment have enriched all our lives. We will miss you, and we hope you will come back often to your home on Park Avenue.
Best of luck to all of you.