After meeting with our state legislators over breakfast on Wednesday and talking with them about the proposed changes to the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program and Governor’s Scholarship Fund, I sent a message yesterday afternoon asking that you take the time to write to your representatives expressing your concern about these proposals. While some of the folks I met with are supporting our position (which is very good news), they emphasized that letters from constituents can make a big difference. Thanks to all of you who have already written. Your letters have been noticed.
As I noted yesterday, I am concerned because the proponents of these proposals seem to assume that private colleges have deep pockets and can weather these changes. That is certainly not the case at most colleges and universities, and is not the case here at Sacred Heart. For example, between 2013 and 2014, Sacred Heart received $1.4 million from the Governor’s Scholarship Fund, which helped 511 Connecticut students get their education here. The majority of scholarship recipients statewide are minority students. If passed, these proposals will have a grave impact on our students, prospective students and the University as a whole. Please join me in making our position clear to those who are making these decisions in Hartford.
Once again, I would like to provide you with a link that you can use to easily compose a message to your representatives. You will be prompted to provide your contact information. We ask that you give your home and work address so your message will reach legislators in both places. We also ask that you direct letters specifically to Representative Brendan Sharkey, who has sponsored the PILOT bill, and to Governor Malloy who has proposed the changes to the Scholarship Fund.
I had the chance to attend the Aretha Franklin concert at the Webster Bank Arena last Friday evening as part of a fundraiser for our Horizons at SHU program. In addition to prime seats for the concert, the event included a pre-party with delicious food and drinks and a presentation on the Horizons program. It served as a thank you to those who have supported Horizons at SHU in the past as well as a chance to raise funds and awareness of the program.
It was another busy week on campus with programs and events of interest to everyone. The convocation hour (2 p.m.) on Wednesday was particularly busy with a colloquia on the strip search scam that included clips from the film Compliance, which tells the story of the scam that was perpetrated on unsuspecting female employees in fast food restaurants; the third in Linda McMahon’s “Women Can Have it All” series featuring Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment; a panel discussion on women moving into administration that was part of the Women’s Faculty Mentoring Program; and an open mic session featuring 10 members of the University faculty and staff sharing poetry, short stories and music. I am really proud of the diversity that we offer our community when it comes to programs like these.
On Tuesday, Nev Schulman from MTV’s Catfish: the TV Program, was a speaker as part of the 2014-2015 Student Lecture Series. He was the perfect choice for our students as they packed the Edgerton to capacity to hear him talk about his new book and his experiences with the show. I’m told that he offered a lot of advice on topics ranging from trying new things and being honest and kind to thinking carefully before posting anything to social media. That’s advice well taken.
Yesterday was the Tunnel of Oppression colloquia. Sponsored by Residential Life, the tunnel allowed participants to experience, even if just for a few minutes, the types of prejudice and oppression that still exist today. At the same time, it also provided hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to res life and the colloquia series for opening a dialogue on this important issue.
Last night brought a tough decision between the Pioneer Blast concert and the Homage to Beethoven. My wife and I decided to attend the Pioneer Blast, and we did, indeed, have a blast. The pep band provided a fantastic selection of contemporary music that had the members of the audience tapping their feet and clapping along. Once again, I was amazed by the talents of our students—and I am pleased that the University offers programs and events to suit all musical tastes.
As is so often the case, there are reasons to celebrate this week. Congratulations to the faculty of the game design program. This week the Princeton Review named Sacred Heart in its Top 25 graduate schools to study video game design for 2015. The Princeton Review also compiled a Top 25 for undergraduate programs and, once again, SHU was the only Connecticut institution to make either list. Other schools on the list include MIT, Penn, NYU, USC and Carnegie Mellon.
Congratulations also to the Winter Guard team, who are nationally ranked for the first time in SHU history. Following last week’s competition, the team is ranked 19 out of 72 in its division. They are already hard at work preparing for the national championships in Dayton April 16-18. Good luck!
I heard this week from a senior who is going through a bit of a tough time after her sister was injured when a truck drove into the Panera Restaurant where she was enjoying a cup of coffee with her fellow nurse and friend. In fact, both women were injured. The student, Rachel Ragone, is finding it hard to enjoy her final semester as an undergraduate because she is traveling back and forth to Long Island to visit her sister. A GoFundMe campaign has been started to raise funds to help the two nurses with their medical expenses. Apparently the 70-year-old driver of the truck was unlicensed and uninsured. If you would like to help out, you can do so here. We wish both women a speedy recovery.
I had the great pleasure of hosting the women’s lacrosse team and the men’s basketball team for dinner this week. They were randomly selected from the 18 athletic teams that had 100 percent participation in the Forever Pioneers Student Athlete Challenge in November. It was a wonderful evening of food and conversation. Thanks to them and all the student-athletes who supported SHU through the campaign.
This weekend we will be holding two important events in the Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center. Tomorrow morning, we will host approximately 300 guests at our Graduate Programs Open House—an event that will partially take place at the Martire Center. We are thrilled that so many have expressed an interest in our programs. Tomorrow evening, our annual Discovery Gala will take place in the new space. The Gala is our largest fundraiser for student scholarships, and we are looking forward to showing our supporters all the exciting features that the Martire Center has to offer for our students.
I want to wish all our students a fun and relaxing Easter break. Enjoy your family and friends; get some rest; and come back rested and ready for the final push of the semester!