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Sacred Heart University -26th Graduation Ceremony: A Celebration of Excellence in Business Education

The candidates for degrees have been assembled; the Faculty members are in their places; Members of the Luxembourg Board of Regents, and other officials of the University are present. The 26th Graduation Ceremony of the Sacred Heart University, Jack Welch College of Business in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are now officially in session.

41 students from over 20 different countries walked across stage on Friday, December 15, 2017, and embarked upon a new journey as MBA graduates after receiving diplomas and words of advice and motivation from scholars, alumni and classmates.

The evening was a celebration of the achievements of the graduates and an expression of gratitude to their spouses, significant others, and families who helped them through the rigorous MBA and graduate professional certificate programs.

2017 was an eventful year for Sacred Heart University Luxembourg. In addition to celebrating its 25th Anniversary in June, SHU was proud to award Master of Business Administration diplomas and Graduate Professional Certificates to the largest graduating class in the University’s Luxembourg history.

The Ceremony opened with a wonderfully welcoming speech given by John Chalykoff Ph.D., Dean of the Jack Welch College of Business. Dr. Chalykoff kicked the evening off by welcoming loved ones as well as the numerous supporters of the program—private companies and governmental representatives—all of whom help to build relations and networking possibilities for the SHU student and alumni community. The Dean highlighted the rigorous requirements of the MBA program and the dedication of the University faculty and staff to every student’s success.

John Chalykoff, Ph.D., Dean, Jack Welch College of Business, Sacred Heart University

Luxembourg remains among the very best of Jack Welch College of Business graduates.
-John Chalykoff Ph.D., Dean of the Jack Welch College of Business, SHU

Ms. Kelsey Hopper singing the National Anthem of the United States of America

Following the ceremonial tradition of the singing for the National Anthem of the United States of America, performed by Ms. Kelsey Hopper, our very own published Academic Director, Professor of Economics and Finance Dr. Alfred Steinherr, Ph.D. made his way to the podium to deliver his speech as Academic Director.

Dr. Alfred Steinherr, Ph.D., Academic Director, Sacred Heart University, Luxembourg

Dr. Steinherr was happy to point out that throughout SHU’s MBA program, the students’ personal objectives were a key focus during the course to teachers and mentors alike. Thanks were made to the faculty as well as recognition of the newest faculty members to join the SHU Luxembourg faculty team since the beginning of the 2016-2017 Academic Year SHU (Ondrej Mates, CA, M.S., Adjunct Professor of Accounting, David Pike, CPA, Adjunct Professor of Accounting, Gunter Fischer, Ph.D., MBL, Adjunct Professor of Finance, Sebastian Eberwein, Guido Von, Scheffer, MBA, Adjunct Professor of Management, Benjamin de Seille, M.S., Adjunct Professor of Management, Benedikt Jonas, M.S., Adjunct Professor of Marketing, Jennifer Trudeau, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, Richard Pate, Esq., and Raquel Gonzales-Dalmau, MBA, M.S.).

These teachers have helped SHU stay ahead of the race by launching new courses such as Social Entrepreneurship, Corporate Sustainability, Innovation Management, International Business Strategy and Management of Resilient Portfolios to name but a few.
-Dr. Alfred Steinherr, Academic Director, SHU Luxembourg

The instructors at SHU Luxembourg come from many different backgrounds including the main University campus in Fairfield, CT, U.S.A, and the European Investment Bank of Luxembourg.

In honor of the achievements celebrated throughout the evening and to inspire confidence in each of the graduates, captivating musical performances were given by Ms. Lucia Colombo, Soprano accompanied by Ms. Kelsey Hopper on piano.

Ms. Lucia Colombo singing “Di tanti palpiti” by Gioachino Rossini, accompanied by Ms. Kelsey Hopper on piano

The commencement address included speeches given by two of Sacred Heart’s own MBA alumnus. Ms. Laura Falletta, HR Initiatives Manager at RBC Investor Services Bank and Valedictorian of the MBA Class of 2007, was the first keynote speaker to address the graduates.

Laura Falletta, MBA, 2017 Commencement Address

Ms. Falletta gave an intriguing speech where she discussed the many obstacles that one faces before during and after achieving and MBA, but that determination is the key to success. Six years ago she returned to the work force after a three-year break and felt that the hostility of a changed environment branded her as obsolete and she began to underestimate her capabilities. But she persevered; remembering what her MBA studies had taught her

How to face and handle complicated issues, how to obtain results in spite of tough time constraints, how to react in a timely and agile manner
-Laura Falletta, MBA Class of 2007

and in those difficult moments she rediscovered her determination and that the qualities she gained during her MBA ten years ago will never be obsolete. Ms. Falletta turned to address the graduating class stating that despite the rapidly evolving environment one should remain inquisitive and eager to learn, to step out of their comfort zone and view all experience wanted or not as welcome ones that will only enrich ones skill set. That one should value negative feedback and seek out constructive critism as this will allow each individual to assess their areas for improvement constructively. Ms. Falletta stated that, “According to the World Economic’s forum, creativity will become one of the top three skills in 2020, together with complex problem solving and critical thinking. Ms. Falletta closed her speech with

Be determined, believe in yourself, be open to accept some risks and learn from your mistakes. You’ll shine brightly.
-Laura Falletta, MBA Class of 2007

Mr. Georges Muller, MBA graduate of the Class of 2004 was the second alumni keynote speaker to address the graduates. Mr. Muller is currently the Director of Artelis, Vice President of the Luxembourg Trade Confederation (Confédération Luxembourgeoise du Commerce), and Vice President of OPAL (Fédération des Opérateurs Alternatifs du Luxembourg). Mr. Muller spoke of perseverance and dedication, how it took him several years after completing his MBA to be promoted and that one should not expect a raise or professional development straight away after completing their studies.

One still has to prove themselves within the working environment and to earn the necessary respect to move onward and upward in their career.
-Georges Muller, MBA Class of 2004

Georges Muller, 2017 Commencement Address

Mr. Muller made it clear that hard work got him where he was and that he had enjoyed his time at SHU and all the benefits that his MBA brought him throughout the years.

If the work is done throughout the program then the understanding needed to manage and oversee a company are acquired.
-Georges Muller, MBA Class of 2004

Ms. Lucia Colombo returned to the stage accompanied by Ms. Kelsey Hopper on the piano to perform “Xiao He Tang Shui”, this beautiful performance reminds the audience of the diverse culture that Luxembourg and SHU nurture and thrive off.

Ms. Lucia Colombo singing, “Xiao He Tang Shui,” accompanied by Ms. Kelsey Hopper on the piano.

Once finished it was time for the graduates to receive their diplomas and awards. As part of the audience, one cannot help but catch the contagious feeling of pride, joy, accomplishment and satisfaction that seem to sweep through the room, infecting all in its wake leaving them with a sense of purposeful optimism. Each student makes their way across stage to shake hands with Dr. Chalykoff and receive their diploma and with each name called there is uproar of cheers from the crowd as proud relatives and friends are delighted to be part of the ceremony and share in the accomplishments of their loved ones.

The Dean’s Leadership Award was presented to SHU’s very own Marketing Manager Charlene Schuessler, the Silver Medal of Excellence was awarded to Valentina Maestroni and finally, the Gold Medal of Excellence and honor of Valedictorian was awarded to, Oscar Chow Lipchak, the first MBA with internship student to be named Valedictorian and recipient of the Gold Medal of Excellence since the MBA with internship program was launched in 2012.

Charlene Schuessler, Dean’s Leadership Award
Valentina Maestroni, Silver Medal of Excellence Award
Oscar Lipchak, Gold Medal of Excellence Award

Mr. Lipchak gave a heartfelt Valedictorian speech stating that he had almost lost his confidence in his work ability until he was challenged with the MBA program at Sacred Heart University which renewed his confidence, spirit and determination. Following the lead of the speakers before him, he stated that,

Determination is a key factor in obtaining the MBA.

Oscar Lipchak, Valedictory Address

The 26th Graduation Ceremony of SHU Luxembourg was also an opportunity to honor this year’s CAPSTONE COURSE client organizations for their commitment to SHU and its students with a Thank You Award for making a difference to SHU and the students.

  • Keasy, represented by Benjamin de Seille
  • AirFrame, Inspections represented by Dr. Jose-Luis Sanchez-Lopez
  • Ampacet, represented by Philippe Hugele
  • LuxAI, represented by Dr. Pouyan Ziafati
  • Luxinnovation EcoInnovation Cluster, represented by Charles-Albert Florentin
  • Luxinnovation Wood Cluster, represented by Philippe Genot
  • Luxembourg Ministry of Culture, represented by Regis Moes (Benedicte Keith, MBA student, standing in for Mr. Moes.)

SHU says thank you to you all for your help and support in providing and delivering Excellence in Business Education. Your commitment is an important and unique pillar in our students’ learning experience.

The ceremony concluded with a private cocktail dinner enjoyed by all graduates, SHU Alumni, family members and guests.


Presenting the Graduates of the SHU Jack Welch College of Business, Class of 2017

Master of Business Administration

Jouda Adada
Raju Ratnakar Akulwar
Ana Rita Barros
Abdelhakim Ben Fakir
Fabio Rocha Bezerra
André Luiz Santos De Brito
Pierre Charles Marie de Marneffe
Lucas Fernandez
Stephan Gavin
Renu Gupta
Marwa Ibrahim
Raymond Kalimunda
Justine Konowal
Adam Yomba Kourouma
Ralph Armand Léon Krips
Julien Lazzari
Oscar Chow Lipchak
Valentina Maestroni
Tsun Hei Eric Man
Melanie Molinari
Shruti Muller
Niranjan Mysore Vishwamurthy
Samy Mzabi
Kevin Edward Nolan
Aarti Priya
Gabriel Ristow Cidral
Youssef Saghir
Jérôme Scherpenbergs
Charlene Schuessler
Stéphane Schuh
Fabrizio Seminara
Patrycja Stala
Joshua Stone
Caio Gomes Strutz
Lucca Martins Dela Santina Torres
Saranya Valsarajan
Leonardo Valtierra
Ai Xie

Graduate Professional Certificate

Ahmed Benssouna – Corporate Finance
Serkan Ekici – Modern Business Management
Paola Miccoli – Modern Business Management
Anna Lisa Sigurjonsdottir – Modern Business Management (not in attendance)

SHU Ranked #4 Most Innovative School in the North, According to U.S. News & World Report

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University was ranked one of the most innovative universities as well as one of the best universities in the North, according to U.S. News & World Report’s newly released guidebook, Best Colleges 2018.

“As one of the fastest growing Catholic universities in the nation, we are pleased to be recognized by U.S. News & World ReportPrinceton Review and many others for the educational excellence we provide,” said SHU President John J. Petillo.

Besides being named one of the best universities in the North, SHU also was one of four schools in the North to be recognized as an innovative school. For the past three years, U.S. News asks academics participating in its peer assessment survey to name institutions they think are the most innovative for its Most Innovative Schools listing. According to U.S. News, college presidents, provosts and admissions deans nominate 10 colleges they think are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities. U.S. News said the ranking is based on the responses to the question.

“Being considered one of the most innovative universities is a result of our mission and careful strategic planning,” Petillo said.

In recent years, the University significantly grew its graduate programs to include more than 29 options, including three doctoral programs, and launched a School of Computing, which includes courses and programs in computer engineering and cybersecurity. The University also bought the 150-acre Great River Golf Course and is in the process of acquiring St. Vincent’s College, allowing more opportunities for students. The acreage of Sacred Heart has more than doubled in recent years due to the acquisitions of the former Jewish Senior Services site, and the General Electric corporate headquarters in Fairfield, the University’s new West Campus, which will be an innovation hub. SHU also will open its new $65 million Center for Healthcare Education later this month.

This year, SHU enrolled 1,420 first-year students. The new class constitutes the largest and most academically talented group in SHU history, surpassing records set by the previous four freshman classes. Chosen from a pool of nearly 10,000 applicants, the new freshmen distinguish themselves according to several factors:

  • The class has an average high school GPA of 3.5
  • More than 200 freshmen are National Honor Society members
  • They come from 10 countries and 24 states, ranging from California to Maine
  • Four hundred freshmen intend to participate in service learning programs this year
  • More than 200 freshmen plan to participate in performing arts programs
  • Nearly 92 percent of the freshmen live on campus.

The University also welcomed 145 transfer students and 47 part-time students in August, an 88 percent increase in part-time enrollment over last year.

Sacred Heart has earned recognition as well from the Princeton Review, which recently ranked the University one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education and included SHU in its Best 382 Colleges guidebook. It also placed SHU on its lists for “Best College Theater” and “Most Engaged in Community Service,” each of which comprises only 20 schools from around the country.

Standard & Poor’s Upgrades Sacred Heart University to A Rating

Standard & Poor’s has raised Sacred Heart University’s long-term rating to A from BBB+.

“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. “S&P’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 expands 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 has also 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 houses the Jack Welch College of Business and School of Communication & Media Arts, and is a unique, world-class facility offering unparalleled resources for students, including 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 sophomore students in two-bedroom (four-person) pods with a shared bathroom. 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, will eventually 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 become the new home for SHU’s 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 on the Housatonic River in Milford/Orange. Located just 11 miles away from SHU’s main campus, Great River Golf Club is a signature Tommy Fazio-designed facility that is now home to SHU’s men’s and women’s D-1 golf teams and will be the future home of a new hospitality program. The course, which garnered significant awards after it opened in 2001, retains its number four position in Golf Magazine’s 2016-2017 listing of the “Best Golf Courses You Can Play in Connecticut.”

Later this week, Sacred Heart will take ownership of the former GE global headquarters, which sits on 66 acres less than a mile from the University’s main campus in Fairfield. This transformational acquisition includes about 550,000 square feet for current and future use and enough space to meet the University’s needs for the foreseeable future. The University plans to use the site as an innovation campus, including providing incubator space that would allow students, in conjunction with investors and area businesses, to develop their creative ideas for new products and programs.

“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 private colleges in Connecticut (Yale, Wesleyan and Trinity) have an A rating or higher from Standard & Poor’s.