Sacred Heart University

For the Puerto Rican university, see Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.
Sacred Heart University
Motto Where Personal Attention Leads to Personal Achievement
Type Private
Established 1963
Religious affiliation
Catholic Church
Endowment $137,027,000 (2014)[1]
President John J. Petillo
Academic staff
237 (full-time)
Undergraduates 4,435
Postgraduates 3,030
Location Fairfield, Connecticut, U.S.
Campus Suburban 250+ acres
Colors Red and White[2]
Athletics NCAA Division INEC, CAA, ECAC, AHA, EIVA
Nickname Pioneers
Mascot "Big Red" the Pioneer
Affiliations ACCU

Sacred Heart University is a Roman Catholic university located in suburban Fairfield, Connecticut, United States. Sacred Heart was founded in 1963 by the Most Reverend Walter W. Curtis, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Sacred Heart University was the first Catholic university in the United States to be staffed by the laity.[3] Dr. John J. Petillo is the current President of the University.[4]

SHU is the second largest Catholic university in New England, behind Boston College,[5] and offers more than 40 degree programs to over 8,000 students at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

Sacred Heart is included in The Princeton Review's Best 371 Colleges 2010,[6] the Best 301 Business Schools 2010,[7] as well as U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges.[6]


Sacred Heart University was founded in 1963 by the Most Reverend Walter W. Curtis, Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport. It was established to provide the community with an affordable, quality education at a local Catholic university. The University was to be led and staffed by the laity independent and locally oriented, serving the needs of the diocese and of southwestern Connecticut. Former American ambassador and Diplomat Thomas Patrick Melady served as President of the University from 1976 to 1986.

Enrollment has risen from the original class of 173 to over 8,000 full and part-time undergraduate and graduate students, and the faculty has increased from 9 to 263 full-time professors and over 350 adjunct professors since 1963.

View of Sacred Heart's campus

The University has enhanced the undergraduate student experience in several notable ways. The first dorms, Scholars Commons (previously known as J-Hill), were built 1991, giving the university the ability to accept students who wanted the residential experience. It now has 10 residential buildings with 50 percent of the full-time undergraduates residing in university housing.

New degree programs and majors in relevant disciplines are regularly added to the curriculum. The University offers Division I athletics with 32 varsity teams. The $17.5 million William H. Pitt Health and Recreation Center is available to all students. The University campus is a wireless environment.

The University consists of six colleges: College of Arts & Sciences, which includes the School of Communication and Media Arts; Jack Welch College of Business; College of Health Professions; College of Nursing; Farrington College of Education and University College. University College is committed to adult learners, and its evening, weekend and accelerated courses earn praise for their diversity and relevance to changing lifestyles.

In the 1980s, former United States president George H.W. Bush received an honorary degree from Sacred Heart University.[8]

On January 25, 2006, Jack Welch gave a large sum of money and his name to Sacred Heart University's College of Business, which is now known as the "Jack Welch College of Business."[9]

On Sunday, September 27, 2009, Sacred Heart University opened its new chapel, the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

In 2012, the University opened a new Student Commons building (Dedicated as the Linda E. McMahon Student Commons) after McMahon donated approximately $5 million. The new Commons includes dining facilities, lounge space, meeting rooms, and several other amenities.[10]

In 2012 the University approved construction of two new buildings for the John F. Welch College of Business and the Isabelle Farrington School of Education. The two new buildings will be designed by the Watertown, MA firm of Sasaki & Associates (Who also designed The Chapel of the Holy Spirit and the Linda E. McMahon Student Commons). Construction and development is expected to begin in 2012 on a recently acquired parcel of land at the corner of Jefferson St and Park Ave in Fairfield.[11]

In 2013, Sacred Heart University opened their new Wellness Center. The two-story, colonial-style, 5,800-square-foot building, situated on Park Avenue across from the main campus, serves as a place for acute health and medical needs and will also offer students counseling and therapeutic services.

In the summer of 2014, Sacred Heart University broke ground for a planned new learning center, to be called the "Student Success Center" dedicated to helping SHU students and young students from the surrounding region achieve success in their educational pursuits.

In 2015, Sacred Heart University again broke ground on a brand new state of the art dorm building.

In the summer of 2015, Sacred Heart University broke ground on a new Health Sciences building. This new building will feature state of the art features in order to lead students to future success in their professional career.


The main campus is located in suburban Fairfield, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City and 150 miles (240 km) south of Boston.

Additional campuses

Student life

Theatre Arts Program

The Theatre Arts Program began in 2009 with the premiere of Sacred Heart University's first musical production: Rent. Other productions include Little Shop of Horrors in spring 2011, Spring Awakening in the spring of 2012, Nunsense in spring 2013, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee also in spring 2013, Boeing Boeing, Edges, and The Playboy of the Western World in the fall of 2013, Chicago and You're a Good Man Charlie Brown in spring 2014, Almost Maine" "Dogfight, and I Remember Mama in fall 2014, and Wait Until Dark, The Fantasticks, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in spring 2015. The Theatre Arts Program also features a student-produced, student-written, and student-performed festival called "Theatrefest", spanning through both the fall and spring semesters and is the home of Sacred Heart's own improv team: The Pioneer Players. In 2016, the program began its own rep program, Sacred Heart Rep. It is one of the largest student groups on campus.

Student government

The Student Government consists of nearly 75 student leaders from all four class years. All full-time undergraduate students have the opportunity to be elected or appointed to a position. There is a Student Government President, four Class Presidents, a Vice President of Finance, a Vice President of Student Events Team, a Vice President of Judicial Affairs, a Vice President of Senate, a Vice President of Campus Clubs & Organizations, and an Executive Board Secretary. Each Class Board has a class president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, four senators, a community service chair, a fundraising chair, and an advertising chair. These students act as a direct liaison between the student body and the administration. They actively address student issues and concerns, promote campus and class unity and plan various campus wide events.[12]

The Spectrum

The Spectrum is a student-run newspaper printed and distributed to students each Wednesday and made available online.[13]

Community service

More than 1,200 students and members of the faculty and staff volunteer in excess of 31,000 hours each year largely within the City of Bridgeport, but also regionally, nationally, and internationally. In Spring 2008, SHU finished third in the nation in the "ONE Campus Challenge", a campaign that seeks to raise public awareness about the issues of global poverty, hunger, and disease. In Fall 2007, SHU's Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter was named one of the Top Five Campus Chapters in the nation, for their work in the Bridgeport community, and around the country with alternative spring break service trips.

Study abroad

SHU has the only American-accredited MBA program in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and a residential study-abroad program in the Irish-speaking community of Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. International experiences are available to SHU students worldwide through study abroad programs located at The American University of Rome, in Italy, the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, Australia, and the University of Granada, in Spain, as well as programs in Bermuda and the Bahamas.[14]

SHU also allows students to participate in CCIS programs, programs affiliated with other schools across the U.S. These programs include, but are not limited to: France, Argentina, Germany, Belgium, and Japan.


The Pioneers compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the Northeast Conference (NEC), Atlantic Hockey, Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA), and the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA). The NEC is the school's primary conference.

Nearly 800 students participate in the university's 31 athletic teams (17 female teams and 14 male teams) along with more than 500 students who participate in 23 Club Sports.

In March 2009, the Women's Basketball team won the NEC Title and earned their second trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years. The team faced the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first round of the tournament on March 21, 2009, and lost, 77–63. The Sacred Heart Pioneers women's ice hockey program competes as an independent in NCAA Division I women's ice hockey.

The men's golf team won the NEC Title in May 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The SHU Baseball Team has appeared in the NEC Championship game the past 4 seasons (2009–2012) and won the past 2 Northeast Conference Titles. These wins have earned SHU back to back NCAA tournament bids.

On February 21, 2013, the Sacred Heart University Athletics Department hired longtime Major League Baseball player and manager Bobby Valentine to head its athletics department.

The SHU Men's Fencing Team won the Northeast Fencing Conference Championship title five years in a row (2010–2014) and was ranked #9 in 2011.

Men's Varsity Athletic Teams:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Volleyball
  • Wrestling

Women's Varsity Athletic Teams:

  • Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Cheerleading
  • Cross Country
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Field Hockey
  • Golf
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Volleyball

Club sports

Currently there are twenty-four club sports active on campus. The active clubs are:

  • Baseball
  • Men's Basketball
  • Women's Basketball
  • Bowling
  • Dance Team
  • Field Hockey
  • Figure Skating
  • Gymnastics
  • Golf
  • Men's Football
  • Men's Ice Hockey
  • Men's Lacrosse
  • Women's Lacrosse
  • Men's Rugby
  • Women's Rugby
  • Running
  • Sailing
  • Men's Soccer
  • Women's Soccer
  • Softball
  • Men's Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Men's Volleyball
  • Women's Volleyball
  • Weightlifting

Greek life

Sacred Heart is home to 7 national sororities, 4 national fraternities and 1 local fraternity. Greek Life it is one of the largest and fastest growing organizations on campus with nearly 800 members and continues to grow each year. Greek Life at SHU is also home to a chapter of Order of Omega, a national Greek academic honor society.


7 National:


4 National:

1 Local:

Sacred Heart started out with several local Sororities and Fraternities among them were Nu Epsilon Omega, Beta Delta Phi, Gamma Chi Zeta and Sigma Tau.


Notable alumni

Notable members of the Board of Trustees

See also


  1. As of June 30, 2014. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2014 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2013 to FY 2014" (PDF). 2014 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers.
  2. Sacred Heart University Logo Usage Guide (PDF). Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  3. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  4. "SHU president resigns to pursue other interests". Connecticut Post. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  5. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  7. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  8. "Record-Journal - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  9. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  10. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  11. Sasaki Associates, Inc. "John F Welch College of Business Department of Communications". Sasaki Associates, Inc. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  12. "Student Government - Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  13. "Sacred Heart (The Spectrum) News and Classifieds". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  14. "Study Abroad". Sacred Heart University. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  15. 1 2 "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  16. "News Stories - Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  17. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  18. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  19. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  20. "Sacred Heart University Connecticut". Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  21. "Famous Connecticut Grads: Lydia Hearst-Shaw", Hartford Courant
  22. 1 2 3 "Administration and Board of Trustees". Sacred Heart University. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
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