On Nov. 17, President of Sacred Heart University, Dr. John Petillo, sent a school-wide email announcing plans for Sacred Heart to take over the management of the Discovery Museum on Park Avenue.
The new management will take effect starting at the beginning of the new year on Jan. 1, 2021. The Discovery Museum is also going through a $1.8 million upgrade that is funded by the state to provide improvements throughout the museum. Some of the improvements are going toward classrooms, exhibits and the planetarium.
With this new management, there will be benefits for students across different academic fields of study. Some of these benefits include “providing internship opportunities for students in education, marketing, media, management, communications, and graphic design, among other academic disciplines,” according to Michael Alfano, Dean of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education.
In addition, the university hopes to expand the STEM Education portion of the College of Arts and Sciences along with the Isabelle Farrington College of Education, which is still in its infancy with this year being the second year it has been offered to students. The new STEM program is also only one of a handful in the entire country.
According to the email sent by Petillo, the university wants to use the Discovery Museum as an additional instructional space for both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Isabelle Farrington College of Education. There are also more chances for faculty to perform research and have grant opportunities.
Sacred Heart also hopes to reach out and include the local community in different events throughout the space.
“Under SHU’s management, the Discovery Museum (DM) will become a dynamic nonprofit organization that will serve as a destination attraction to the greater Fairfield County region, highlighting STEM-related content and experiences,” said Alfano.
Another opportunity that will arise through this new management is advancement to the “Horizons at SHU” program that takes place during the summer as well as on the weekends. The Horizons program works in conjunction with the Bridgeport community to help serve underprivileged students in the community and to help them prepare and pursue their college dreams.
With the new management, the university hopes to bring in high school students as well as other special program students for science-based competitions to enhance the STEM programs.
“Additionally, the DM will engage local communities and school districts in STEM-related content and will provide SHU students and faculty with a variety of professional and research-related opportunities,” said Alfano.