We began the week with the sad news of the loss of three young lives in a tragic fire at Marist College. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Marist community and with the families and friends of the victims. I think today is a good time for all of us to check our smoke alarms and make sure they are working.
Sadly, we also lost Sister Marie Julianne Farrington last weekend. Sister Marie Julianne had a long and special history with Sacred Heart up until her retirement last spring. In addition to developing projects and initiatives to fulfill the University’s mission and enhance its strategic position, she also served as an external liaison to the religious community for the University. Sister Marie Julianne received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, from Sacred Heart University in 2005. She will be missed.
Congratulations to Sacred Heart’s Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter on receiving the prestigious Second Mile Award, presented each year by Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County (Habitat CFC). The award also went to Youth United, a Habitat CFC program focused on giving youth from different backgrounds, faiths and organizations the opportunity to work together to sponsor and build a house with Habitat. Youth United and Sacred Heart’s Habitat club partnered to raise money for and build a house at 554 Jane St. in Bridgeport. This is the first time the award has been given to groups since its inception in 1988. Habitat CFC’s Keith Cook said the groups won for their perseverance in raising money for the house over several years and the care and quality they put into the construction of the house – which is what the Second Mile Award is all about.
The Business Council of Fairfield County has recognized Sacred Heart University as a Gold winner for its successful efforts in promoting a healthy workplace. This is the third consecutive year that we have been honored with the Gold award. The program also received the “Award of Distinction for Workplace Wellness” in 2011 from the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. Congratulations to Sally Schettino for her hard work putting together such a great variety of wellness programs for faculty and staff.
Sacred Heart welcomes Murray Martin and Teresa Ressel to its Board of Trustees. Mr. Martin is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Pitney Bowes, Inc., and Ms. Ressel most recently held the position of chief operating officer of The Americas for UBS Investment Bank. We are grateful for their willingness to serve and look forward to the expertise they will bring to the table.
We are continuing to gear up for the Horizons at Sacred Heart program that will launch this summer and 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 program will address 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. The program is being underwritten by a seven-figure gift from an anonymous donor. This generous donation will cover the cost of the teachers, administrators and materials needed for the program, while Sacred Heart will provide the facilities and some administrative services. This week, we named 11 people to the Board of Overseers for the program. Representatives come from both the Sacred Heart community and the local area.
Wednesday evening, the Academic Research Showcase portion of the Presidential Inaugural Lecture Series kicked off with a presentation by Professor Jennifer McLaughlin, representing the College of Arts and Sciences. She discussed her paper entitled Reflecting on the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 to a fascinated crowd of students, colleagues, family members and visitors from the local community. She linked the topic to the inaugural theme, “A Time for New Beginnings,” by concluding that even though no solid changes took place between the United States and Great Britain as a result of the war, the Americans’ belief that they had won allowed them to move on and make changes – or new beginnings – on the home front.
As I write this, Director of Pioneer Bands Keith Johnston is in Haiti with two members of the University orchestra – trumpet players Rob Cowan and Brian Beatty. The group will participate in the first annual Brass Festival, sponsored by the Holy Trinity School of Music in Port-au-Prince, and will give lessons to brass students and conduct brass and wind ensembles. The three also participated in the Ireland trip over the Christmas break, so they are piling up the miles.
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are back in action at the Pitt Center on Saturday against Mount St. Mary’s. Let’s show our fellow Pioneers our support by filling the stands and cheering them on. Whatever you decide to do over the weekend, be safe and have a good time.