I’m always happy when a new semester begins and the campus fills with students and faculty members. I love the academic atmosphere and seeing the space on campus being used the way it’s meant to be used. That’s one of the many reasons that I’m excited about the programs that will be happening here on campus during the summer. One of those is the result of a new partnership between Sacred Heart and Horizons National. The program will bring 32 low-income students entering first and second grade from Bridgeport Public and Cathedral Education Cluster schools to campus for six weeks. The hope is that these students, many of whom are the first in their families to step onto a college campus, will be inspired by their experience to set high goals for their education.
The program addresses summer learning loss, a phenomenon in which low-income children fall behind in reading and math skills in the summer, while middle-income students keep pace or jump ahead. This contributes to an achievement gap, leaving some low-income kids as much as three years behind by fifth grade. By spending some of their vacation here, the students will actually gain reading and math skills this summer. My personal hope is that we see them again in 10 or 11 years when they return to Sacred Heart as freshmen.
Last week, I mentioned that some of our students were in Mississippi working with Habitat for Humanity, and another group was participating in our annual CURTIS Week immersion program. Both groups are back on campus and are reenergized by and grateful for their experiences.
As you can easily see, we are making tremendous progress on the new student commons building. We are planning a dedication ceremony for mid-April. We are also making headway with our new website design, which will launch before the start of next semester. Our website will be even more attractive and user-friendly than it is now.
There will be a lot of activity surrounding this Saturday’s basketball games against Central Connecticut State University. First, it is the annual Pack the Pitt event, sponsored by Student Government. The goal is to fill the arena with a sea of red. Come to either the women’s or men’s game dressed in red to collect Pioneer Fever Pinnies, stadium cups and drawstring bags from Coke. You will also be eligible to win raffle prizes or the door prize of a $2,500 Disney trip.
In addition, a reunion of alumni from the Welch College of Business will take place in the Pitt balcony, beginning at 2 p.m. Approximately 40 people, including some members of the WCOB faculty, are expected to attend for appetizers, networking and, of course, a great view of the games.
I’m hoping to see victories by both teams. Last night the men beat Quinnipiac in a 78-75 nail biter. That completes a season series sweep – the first time that’s happened since 2007-08. And, the women have been on fire. After two conference road wins this past weekend over Robert Morris and Saint Francis (PA), they vaulted to the number 16 spot in the Mid-Major poll. The women are 6-0 this year in the Pitt Center. Congratulations to both teams – and best of luck on Saturday.