SHU’s Newest Greek Life – Lambda Delta Xi by: Valentina Massoni
This fall, Sacred Heart University welcomes a new Greek life organization to campus, and it is the first of its kind. Lambda Delta Xi was the first diaternity nationwide, and is now the first at Sacred Heart.
In 2014, the founders of Lambda Delta Xi at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania coined the term diaternity.
“The word avoids using the gendered terms of ‘sorority’ or ‘fraternity’; to make a place where anyone can feel welcome,” their website states.
The organization focuses specifically on the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, accepting members of all gender identities and sexualities.
Junior Daniella Monteforte is the president and a founder of Lambda Delta Xi at Sacred Heart. She gathered a group of five students during the spring semester of 2023 to pioneer the chapter. Since then, they have worked with the university and national representatives of the diaternity to expand.
The chapter is still in development, but Sacred Heart
will be the fourth campus where Lambda Delta Xi has been recognized. Currently the main concern of the five founders is determining how to structure the recruitment process.
“I just want it to be a safe space for everyone, you know, have people come to Sacred Heart and feel like they have a home,” Monteforte said.
Monteforte represents many other students on campus who have not had a place in Greek life up until this point.
Sacred Heart’s website states that 31% of undergraduate students are involved in fraternity and sorority life. Because all gender identities are accepted in this new organization, a larger, more diverse group of students will be encouraged to become involved.
“People come to college and they want to be in a Greek life organization. It’s kind of what college is about,” said Monteforte. “I definitely didn’t have that opportunity myself, so I wanted to give it to other people.”
The national philanthropy of Lambda Delta Xi is the non-profit organization, the Trevor Project. According to their website,
the Trevor Project’s mission is to end suicide among young LGBTQ+ people.
Additionally, Sacred Heart’s local philanthropy is the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk.
“This community is a group of teens and young adults that meet and hangout
weekly just to give each other support and friendship,” Monteforte said.
The Trevor Project’s 2023 national survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health found that 56% of young LGBTQ+ people who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to get it.
The diaternity will provide a safe space for the campus- wide LGBTQ+ community, while also supporting local and national LGBTQ+ communities through their connection with the Trevor Project and the Triangle Community Center.
“Lambda Delta Xi Diaternity seeks to make a difference for the LGBTQ+ community on and off campuses across the country,” the diaternity’s website states.
The vision of the original founders of Lambda Delta Xi, the vision of president Monteforte, and the chosen philanthropies associated with the organization are all seamlessly aligned.
“I would honestly say that Lambda Delta Xi is a forever family where everyone is on the same playing field. It’s awesome,” Monteforte said.
Spotlight: Denise Tiberio by: Brad Hutchinson
Many pioneers come and go from the campus on 5151 Park Ave, but that isn’t the case for Sacred Heart University’s beloved faculty member, Denise Tiberio, who will be moving into one of the highest esteemed roles in the university starting this fall.
On Aug. 1, it was announced to the university community that Larry Wielk would retire as dean of students after 27 years of service. Taking over the role would be Tiberio, whose 32 years of service to the university proved that she would be a perfect fit for the job. Knowing that she won’t be simply filling Wielk’s shoes, she wants to have her own unique spin on the job. “I want to continue to be a voice for the students”, said Tiberio. “While I know it is important that I am going to have to hold them accountable, I still want them to know I’m here for them. I have an open-door policy, and if there is any question or concern they have, I want them to know that I will listen to anything they want to share.”
To begin, who is Denise outside of Sacred Heart? First and foremost, she is a mother of two children, one who just graduated college and another who is currently a sophomore at The University of Connecticut. In her free time, she loves to travel up to her house at Lake George, reading, and her new hobby is playing pickle ball. On top of all that, she is currently in her third year of a, asynchronous doctorate program and she will be defending her dissertation this coming year.
Denise Tiberio’s journey as a pioneer started as a student, where she graduated with a degree in political science as part of the class of 1989. At the time, Sacred Heart was just a small commuter school, a place that would practically be unrecognizable to any current SHU student.
Shortly after graduating, she started as a graduate assistant at SHU. Her roles quickly began to advance throughout the 32 years she has spent at the university. From holding titles such as assistant director of student activities, director of student life, and senior associate dean of students, she has truly shown her commitment to the community.
Throughout her tenure at SHU, Tiberio oversaw a wide variety of departments directly, which include fraternity & sorority life, first-year programs, performing arts, student engagement, international and immigration services, student government, and the student union. Having direct oversight over all these departments kept her very busy, but the challenge allowed for there never to be a dull moment.
Another department that Tiberio started from the ground-up is the Orientation program, which she was tasked with starting in the year 1991. This program has always been her passion because she had a love for engaging with first-year students, as well as developing skills within the Orientation Leader team.
When asked about some defining moments within her career, one that comes to mind was when she was approached with developing Greek life on campus in 2008. At the time, there were 96 students involved in Greek life, and all of the organizations were local. She was told that the organizations had to either go local or they had to abolish them, and Tiberio chose the path that put the students first.
In one of the busiest years of her career, seven national organizations found their way onto campus, and she found a love for what these organizations stand for considering she wasn’t a part of one herself. Looking back at her work, there are now about 2,100 students involved in Greek life, which makes up for close to 30% of our students.
Another project that she helped start is Family Weekend. When she started her position at SHU, there was no opportunity for families to come experience student life. She created a program that brought the entire community together. Now, our Family Weekend has become an absolute craze and a time that all SHU students look forward.
As the keys are now passed over to the dean’s office, Tiberio has great praise for everything that Wielk had done for the university. Tiberio had a close relationship with Wielk, as she hopes to hold some of his practices close to heart. His ability to be well-respected, but also have a calm and authoritative approach to conflict is something she admired. Funny enough, Tiberio was actually a part of the committee that hired Wielk, and although she knows she isn’t filling his shoes, she is carrying a great deal of what she learned from him with her.
Tiberio will continue to work to enhance the experience of the students at Sacred Heart University. With such a grasp on the university and knowing what a tight-knit community this school is, she is confident that SHU will continue to grow and achieve things that we couldn’t have imagined.
The Provost’s Journey by: Jessica Fontaine
Dr. Robin Cautin is the provost at Sacred Heart University. She serves as the chief academic officer who oversees all academic and faculty activities.
Cautin received her undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware, where she double majored in psychology and philosophy. She pursued her doctorate in clinical psychology at Case Western Reserve University.
“I have to start by saying, I never aspired to be an administrator in higher-education. It kind of happened unintentionally,” Cautin said. Prior to Sacred Heart, Cautin was at Manhattanville College for 13 years. She first served as a psychology professor, then as associate provost and dean of undergraduate education.
“What happened was, I started to get more involved in leadership at my prior institution and found it strangely gratifying. Most faculty saw it as a burden, but I actually found it unexpectedly satisfying,” Cautin said, “I really enjoyed understanding the big picture of how an institution works, where it fits in the broader context and how I can have a positive impact, not just one-on-one with a student in the classroom but on a structural institutional level.”
Cautin joined Sacred Heart in the fall of 2014, where she was the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. She was selected to fill the provost vacancy in the fall of 2021.
“I was really ready to move to a larger, more complex institution that was also student-centered and had a mission that resonated with me,” Cautin said, “I read about Sacred Heart and it almost seemed too good to be true. I said, ‘This sounds perfect.’”
Cautin remembers interviewing for the deanship and feeling comfortable.
“I thought, ‘Wow, I can really work with the people in this room.’”
During undergrad, Cautin’s initial goal was to be in full-time clinical practice, but plans changed.
“I did a post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University and realized during that year, that I didn’t want to do full-time clinical work,” Cautin said, “I missed the classroom, I missed the research, and I missed the academic setting. Then I changed my plans again, so every good plan is flexible.”
When asked if the journey to becoming the provost was stressful, Cautin said, “I get bored easily, so I enjoy challenges and a certain intensity to my work life. I’ve always sought that out. So, it can be stressful sometimes, but most of the time it’s a good kind of stress so I enjoy it.”
As SHU keeps growing, Cautin hopes to manage the growth strategically and keep continuity of things that the community doesn’t want to lose, such as the cultural feel that draws many students to the campus.
“We don’t want to lose [that]no matter how big, no matter how complex we get,” Cautin said, “We have to intentionally and strategically nourish and foster culture that is so important to all of us that we feel and what affirms our decision to be here.”
As well as keeping the great things about SHU constant, Cautin believes it is important to adapt to the growth.
“We need to adapt to changing demands and diversifying needs of students so we can remain relevant and remain in sync with our students, our staff and our faculty,” said Cautin.
When she’s not busy strengthening our university, Cautin likes reading nonfiction and spending time with her husband, her two high-school children, and her dog Fred. Her newest hobby is playing piano.
“I just started taking lessons, and I really enjoy playing. But I taught myself when I was younger and it had been decades since I recommitted, and it’s wonderful,” Cautin said.
She also loves ‘80s music and listening to Siriux XM’s ‘80s on 8.
Cautin’s advice to the future generations that want to follow a path like hers is to pursue their passions, be curious, be open to opportunities and focus on learning. She said that many people are afraid to try new things because they are afraid, they won’t be good at them and will fail. However, they shouldn’t let it deter them.
“If you’re not willing to take those chances, you’re really missing out. It doesn’t mean what you think it means,” said Cautin. “Say you made a mistake and you failed. Learn from it. It’s what you do with it, not that it happened.
My Experience as a GA at SHU by: Dewayne Scott
I am the graduate assistant of Multicultural Affairs here at Sacred Heart University. In this role, I manage the work-study students and maintain the Multicultural Center’s daily operations.
During social justice week, I will take the time and opportunity to reflect on my experience in this position thus far while circling back to its relevance to social justice week at the university.
Being a part of the Multicultural Center has made my short time at Sacred Heart meaningful and enjoyable. Working with a very supportive staff and a diverse range of students has bettered me both professionally and personally. Doing DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) work has certain connotations attached to it; however, it is complicated and challenging, especially in a predominately white institution where you are part of the minority.
With that said, you find yourself in specific conversations that may feel very uncomfortable having but are necessary; necessary for not just myself, students, and the SHU community but as a society.
Race, class, and gender are just a few things that are not easy to talk about in a public or intimate setting.
To provide more context, the Multicultural Center was established at Sacred Heart after the George Floyd incident to give underrepresented students a place of comfort, but most importantly, provide education and knowledge of how to navigate through your journey before and after graduation as a minority within society.
Even as a graduate student and first-year student at SHU as a black male, I find myself gaining the same experience. Much of what I have learned and taken in is hugely accredited to the mentorship and guidance from Maurice Nelson, Robert Johnson, and Ana Mendieta, but the students play just as big a factor in it.
I have been placed in an environment that exposes me to dialogues and discussions that forces me to wrap my mind to be more open-minded and more aware of my place and influence in the environments in which I am placed.
DEIB work is a gradual upward battle for college institutions and the world. The first step in promoting a more diverse and inclusive environment is being more open-minded and aware of others from different places and backgrounds.
Alejandro Ramos, Collin Moura, & Isabella Fabbo
Spotlight Editor, Photography, Assistant Photography Editor
Pioneers Being Pioneers depicts some of our community members living up to our school’s mission and core values:
“Promotion of the common good of society.”
“Recognition of the dignity and worth of every human being.”
*All photos contributed by the Sacred Heart University photo shelter*
Jill Pusateri: O Captain! My Captain! by: Alejandro Ramos; Spotlight Editor
Jillian Pusateri is a senior political science major from Franklin Square, New York. At Sacred Heart University, she is best known for being captain of the Swim and Dive Team.
When asked why Pusateri was chosen as team captain, John Spadafina, Head Swimming Coach said, “she exemplifies the team core values and shows leadership characteristics.”
Pusateri, 21, has swam for the past 17 years. “I don’t remember life before swimming to be honest. Well, my parents threw me into swim lessons. Then I did a summer team and I fell in love with it.”
For a brief time during her career Pusateri was not the only one of the same last name swimming with a SHU cap on. Her older sister, Julia, was on the team in her senior year when Jillian started her freshman year.
“I’ve always looked up to her. It was kind of cool to have my big sister be a big dog on the team when I first came in,” said Pusateri.
In Spadafina’s tenure with the swim team, he has seen four sets of sisters complete the program.
“Jill and Julia are total opposites, but we endorse the family atmosphere and the siblings that come through the program. The Pusateri’s, in my tenure, are the second set of sisters to come through,” said Spadafina.
During the meet season, August to February, the swim and dive team practices from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday. They then have a one-hour team lift session twice a week. Their home base is located at the McCann Natatorium in Milford, Conn.
In the off season, the team gets a day off with practices running from Monday to Friday. In lieu of a practice, the team has three one-hour team lift sessions.
“Swim has become a part of my life,” said Pusateri. “It has taught me so much, time management, patience, and motivation. Aside from the lessons, it has given me lifelong friends.”
Pusateri’s events for meets are the 100 breaststroke, 500 freestyle stroke, and the mile. Her favorite event is the breaststroke.
She has been supported in her career by loved ones. “My parents are my driving force. They have never missed a meet,” Pusateri said.
Michael and Diana Pusateri were recognized at this year’s senior day festivities. “We all are a family,” said Spadafina.
Other SHU athletic team captains recognize the work that she put into everything. “I would describe Jill as diligent,” said Alexa Setteducati captain of the SHU equestrian team and Pusateri’s housemate.
“She puts 110% into everything she does whether it’s her academics, swimming, or friendships. She is so hardworking and keeps herself busy by not only being a full-time student athlete as a Captain, but she also tutors in the Pitt [Center] and works,” Setteducati said.
Pusateri is off to Hofstra Law School when she graduates this year from SHU. For her this is a bitter-sweet ending, but she already has retirement plans.
Pusateri said, “My retirement will be spent competing in triathlons. Triathlons plus law school… that should keep me busy.”
Todd Gibbs: Engaging Alumni by: Alejandro Ramos; Spotlight Editor
Todd Gibbs, Executive Director for Alumni Relations, has been with Sacred Heart University for almost a decade.
Gibbs had a brief stint at SHU from 2008 to 2009 as the Executive Director of Development, working in University Advancement.
“I was here in 2008-09. At that moment in time, I felt like Sacred Heart was in the early stages of positive growth and I really felt a sense of connection to the kind of vision, values, and the mission of Sacred Heart. That everyone mattered,” said Gibbs.
In 2009, he departed SHU during a period of change when he was presented with an opportunity to lead a non-profit organization.
“I was presented an opportunity to follow a passion and to lead it,” said Gibbs. I led an organization that had a direct benefit to loved ones, and helped redefine and reshape it.”
The organization, Pegasus Therapeutic Riding, works with children, veterans, and first responders. Their mission reads as follows, “We are here to enhance the lives of individuals who have disabilities and challenges through equine-assisted activities and education.” More information about the organization can be found at pegasustr.org
Although he wasn’t actively searching for the next step, Gibbs’ next opportunity came when he received a call from SHU to return in some capacity.
Gibbs returned to Sacred Heart in 2014.
“I kind of always felt like I had unfinished business here,” said Gibbs.
Although his title gives him a leadership role in the school’s alumni engagement channels, Gibbs is adaptable to the many roles in institutional advancement.
In his eight years since being back he has touched upon the many functions of an advancement office; annual funds, giving campaigns, scholarship funds, major gifts, stewardship, and data services.
“Under the leadership of our Senior Vice President Paul Sutera, who joined us about 18 months ago, he’s organized the office in a way that clearly delineates alumni engagement as its own pillar and so I lead that alumni engagement channel,” said Gibbs.
One of his pillars’ responsibilities is alumni relations, engagement, and involvement. A physical event that brings alumni back to SHU is homecoming. Over the years, this weekend has grown in popularity.
When interviewed in October 2022, for a Spectrum article titled ‘Welcome Back, Alumni!’ Gibbs said, “Eight years ago, we had 250 students attend homecoming, with less than five events. Last year, we welcomed back 1,300, and this year we hosted over 2,000 alumni over the course of the weekend.”
Sacred Heart has 53,000 living alumni residing in all 50 states and coming from a total of 64 countries. These alumni give back in many ways; presence, promoting SHU in their community, mentoring students, and job/internship opportunities.
One-third of these students have graduated under President John Petillo’s 12-year presidency at the university. At other higher education institutions, young alumni who have graduated within 10 years are called G.O.L.D.: “Graduates of the Last Decade.” At SHU, they are called Petillo’s Kids.
There are currently eight alumni chapters based on geographic location in the United States. By June 2024, Gibbs hopes to grow that number to 20. The activities and engagement of these chapters were severely impacted by COVID-19. Aside from alumni chapters there is also affinity groups and alumni societies.
Alumni Engagement alongside the Center for Career & Professional Development have established a new platform. “Pioneers Connect” which works like LinkedIn but accessible only to SHU students has had a successful launch. Within the first week of launching, the platform has over 500 users.
“Pioneers Connect” allows for interactions between alumni and students alike. Whether you are connecting with a current or former classmate, potential employer, or looking for a mentor this platform has you covered.
Gibbs stressed that work in University Advancement (UA) is only possible through collaboration and coordination. These include the pillars within the UA framework as well as campus and community partners.
This year they assisted SHU’s Student Government with their 11th annual Turkey Drive. Without the support from alumni and donors the goal would not have been met. Student Government Senator Bella Neves sits on the board of Community and Inclusion that was responsible for putting together the turkey drive.
“Mr. Gibbs played a significant role in making both our November and December Turkey Drives so successful. Any time we hit a bump in the road, he was always there to help,” said Neves. “As a student here at Sacred Heart, it is so great to see a staff member who is so willing and happy to help others!”
When asked about vision and the future Gibbs mentioned building class identity. “While we have not had a class identity, we want to start building that,” said Gibbs. “We will have a 25 and 50 at homecoming. Over time we will start to introduce other class reunions.”
Aside from class reunions, there are plans to unite SHU’s affinity groups. “What we will continue to do is build reunions driven by affinity. It can be orientation leaders, which we have done in the past, members of the band, and groups even within Spectrum,” said Gibbs.
Many of these ideas are born within different departments in the community and are brought to Alumni Engagement to facilitate them.
On June 10 the Alumni Association Board in collaboration with the university will be hosting the very first Distinguished Alumni Awards Program. “It’s truly a chance to recognize alumni for significant professional and community accomplishments and the work that they are doing in the different phases of their career trajectories,” said Gibbs.
Spotlight Section Introduction
Welcome to the newest addition to The Spectrum, The Spotlight! This newly added section of The Spectrum will serve many purposes to our community. We had a few minor changes to the structure of the paper, as you can tell if you’re an avid reader, Perspectives is no longer a section.
My name is Alejandro Ramos, and I am the editor for this new section. Just last semester I was a staff writer, writing for the features section. My favorite assignments were covering members of this campus in a life profile.
This section will be able to cover our campus’ “Unsung Heros” with profiles and allow the community to contribute. I am hoping that this section will encourage our SHU community to interact with us in a more reciprocal manner.
You can scan the QR code to submit a form to recommend a member of this campus to be our next spotlight. A member can be anyone from a student to an administrator and anywhere in between.
If you would like to submit something to this section please email me, Alejandro, at (email@example.com).
Looking forward to serving the community this semester in this capacity.
All my best,