Standard & Poor’s (S&P), an esteemed credit-rating agency that scores the financial capacity of public and private entities, has raised Sacred Heart University’s long-term credit rating to A from BBB+. This indicates that it believes SHU has a strong ability to meet its financial obligations.
“In the midst of all the other exciting news of Sacred Heart’s extraordinary successes comes this news of a jump of two steps in our rating,” said SHU President John J. Petillo. “I am proud that Standard & Poor’s report noted our growing enrollment and diverse geographic footprint as reasons for our success.”
“Enrollment continued to grow into fall, 2016, as the University has expanded both its undergraduate and graduate programs,” S&P’s report said.
In recent years, the University’s student population has grown to 5,400 undergraduate students and more than 3,000 graduate students. That growth also has led to physical growth that is unprecedented in the University’s 54-year history.
Within the last two years, the University has completed and outgrown its Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center and finished its Jorge Bergoglio residence hall. The former, which houses the Jack Welch College of Business and School of Communication & Media Arts, is a unique, world-class facility offering unparalleled resources for students. These include media production studios, trading floor and interactive laboratories designed to advance the skills and knowledge needed for the global marketplace. The latter houses more than 200 sophomores in two-bedroom (four-person) pods with shared bathrooms. Other amenities include a multipurpose fitness facility, a video game room for fun, classes and competitive video game club activities, and lounges and conference rooms for socialization and learning outside the classroom.
Currently under construction is the University’s Center for Healthcare Education, Upper Quad Residential Village and a new building for WSHU Public Radio and the University’s Department of Public Safety. The Center for Healthcare Education will house the Colleges of Health Professions and Nursing and will offer students state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom facilities; enhanced athletic training, human performance and motion analysis labs; a life and sport analysis clinic; and a multipurpose amphitheater.
The Upper Quad, which was the former home of Jewish Senior Services, eventually will house approximately 750 students in an apartment-like setting and will offer dining options, including a Jersey-style, old-fashioned diner.
The new radio station building will have two full studios and four editing suites, on-air-equipped control room studios and a large community room. The upper level will provide offices for the station’s production managers and engineers, administrative offices, a conference room and a roof deck for breakout space and fundraisers. The building also will accommodate the Public Safety department, featuring a high-tech communication and dispatch center and many other amenities that will enhance the department’s service needs, responsibilities and requirements.
In addition, Sacred Heart last year purchased the 150-acre Great River Golf Course overlooking the Housatonic River in Milford/Orange. Just 11 miles away from SHU’s main campus, Great River Golf Club is a signature Tommy Fazio-designed facility. The men’s and women’s D-1 golf teams use the course, and the University has planned a new hospitality program at the site. The course, which garnered significant awards after it opened in 2001, retains its fourth position in Golf Magazine’s 2016-2017 listing of the “Best Golf Courses You Can Play in Connecticut.”
In a move described as “transformational,” Sacred Heart has taken ownership of the former GE global headquarters, which sits on 66 acres less than a mile from the University’s main campus in Fairfield. The acquisition included about 550,000 square feet for current and future use and enough space to meet SHU’s needs for the foreseeable future. The University plans to use the site as an innovation campus, including incubator space that would enable students to develop their creative ideas for new products and programs, in conjunction with investors and area businesses.
“We are pleased with the increase in our financial resources and all that has allowed us to do for our students,” said Michael Kinney, senior vice president for Finance & Administration at Sacred Heart. “To have S&P validate our strong financial profile with this rating increase is very gratifying.”
Only three other private colleges in Connecticut—Yale, Wesleyan and Trinity—have an A rating or higher from Standard & Poor’s.