As we wrapped up the last full week of classes, it was another busy week on campus with events celebrating the Christmas season and our 50th birthday. This week’s 50th Anniversary events included a series of colloquia on global health, education and poverty—topics that need to be kept at the forefront. The passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday is also a reminder of the importance of stepping up to make a difference when things are inequitable.
Last night’s Choral Christmas Extravaganza was also a 50th Anniversary event. My wife and I, along with a nearly full house in the Edgerton Center, enjoyed the variety of Christmas music performed by our talented singers. The selections ranged from traditional to contemporary and even included a song written in 1963—the year this University was founded. It was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.
Our tree-lighting ceremony on Monday was another wonderful kick off to the Christmas season. This year we lit a special tree near the library that was specifically planted to be our official Christmas tree. With music from the choirs, hot chocolate and cookies, it was a true Christmas celebration.
Also on Monday evening, the Civility in America series that Sacred Heart is co-sponsoring in Stamford featured Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman on “Civility in Baseball.” Following his talk, Vinny Ebenau ’14, who regularly interviews me for Eyes on SHU, had a chance for a one-on-one chat with Brian, which you can watch by clicking here. If you happen to be in Stamford on Sunday, you can see Brian and our own Bobby Valentine rappel down the side of the Landmark Square building where our new Graduate Center is housed.
This week was Winter Week for SHU students as they conclude classes and get ready to study for finals. Some of the fun events organized by the Student Events Team included mechanical snowboarding, gingerbread cookie decorating and “ice” skating. The agenda also features several holiday movies and a trip to Boston on Sunday to see the stage version of A Christmas Story, which was produced by our own Jerry Goehring.
This week, Sacred Heart had the opportunity to host a Homeland Security Executive Education Seminar, conducted by the Center for Homeland Defense & Security. The meeting was attended by police, fire and EMS officials from area communities, such as Fairfield, Bridgeport, Trumbull and Norwalk; representatives from the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Connecticut State Police, FBI, United States Coast Guard and more. Public safety officers from Sacred Heart and Fairfield University were also in attendance. The group went over several emergency scenarios, including one involving an explosion during a SHU/Fairfield University basketball game at Harbor Yard. It was a great learning experience for members of our Public Safety team as well as a chance to network with our area emergency services partners.
On Wednesday night, members of Hearts United and the class of 2015 got together to write letters to the troops and put together care packages for homeless veterans. This is just another example of the many ways that the SHU community is caring for those who are not as lucky as we are during the holiday season.
On a more somber note, this week a young woman named Brianna Belmont, who intended to begin classes here at SHU in the spring, passed away. Brianna intended to be a teacher and had already gained experience by teaching catechism classes. She was also a strong leader and a compassionate volunteer—values that we strongly embrace here at Sacred Heart. Her family let us know of her passing and also shared how much she was looking forward to coming to Sacred Heart and joining our community. We were able to create a certificate for them acknowledging that she will always be a Pioneer and member of our family, and I’m told it meant a lot to them. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this time.
I’m hoping that members of the faculty and staff will join me Monday night at 63’s to serve the students our traditional late-night breakfast as they get ready for finals. It’s always a great time and chance to show how much we support them and want them to succeed during this last stretch of the semester.
I am also looking forward to seeing faculty and staff at the Advent Wreath Lighting Service and Christmas party on Wednesday. This is the time for us to relax, enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the season. Also, there will be great raffle prizes, and you must be there to win. By that I mean, Jersey rules will once again be in effect, so you better listen closely when I start calling out those names!
For those of you who want a break from finals—or don’t have to take finals—there are a lot of festivities on tap this weekend. These include the New Haven Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Britten’s St. Nicolas and A Ceremony of Carols this evening, the Cherish the Ladies Irish Christmas performance tomorrow night and The Holiday Voyage band concert and Lessons & Carols service on Sunday.
I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend. I also wish good luck to our students as they take their finals and safe travels as they head home for the break. Enjoy the holidays and break, and we’ll see you rested and ready to go in January!