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We’re All Connected

“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.” — St. Thomas Aquinas

Each year during the first week of October, the University holds its own version of homecoming: Seton Hall Weekend. The event not only brings to campus — and to life — the keen enthusiasm of our many alumni and friends, it also fortifies the relationships members of our community have established with one another over time through shared experiences and values.

Seton Hall Weekend attracted record crowds this year, with more than 3,500 alumni, students, parents and local community members attending. The reception to welcome parents drew a standing-room-only crowd and the main lawn was filled with more than 40 student and community groups offering a wide array of activities to our campus visitors.

DrEsteban-600In addition to the impromptu reunions that occurred over those three days, members of the Classes of 1963 and 1993 reminisced and reconnected as part of formal reunions, as did graduates of the Honors Program and members of our many legacy families. One of Seton Hall’s legacy families is highlighted here: The Calandras, who turned a small bakery into a string of successful businesses, have a family tradition of entrepreneurship and studying business at the Stillman School of Business.

Seeing alumni walk across the Green during Seton Hall Weekend wearing their Pirate sweatshirts or baseball caps reminded me how much love and pride exists for Seton Hall. There are many graduates who “bleed blue,” in different ways. Some get married in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, send their children to Seton Hall and recommend the University to friends and colleagues. (See our “Love Connections” story, highlighting couples who met and fell in love as students.) Countless alumni donate their time and talent by serving on advisory councils and are involved in mentoring programs. So many provide financial support. Then there are the diehard Pirate fans who attend sporting events; some attend every men’s basketball game, even traveling across the country to see the team play.

To acknowledge this type of enduring loyalty, we launched a new program called “True Blue” to formally acknowledge alumni who are actively engaged with the University each year. (More information about how to become a True Blue member can be found on page 4 of the printed magazine.)

This program is ideal for alumni like Dr. Kathleen Cuddihy ’92, a pediatrician who for years has served as a mentor to the University’s pre-med students, allowing them to shadow her at her busy medical practice. She takes time to share her experiences in a meaningful way with students on an individual basis and give aspiring doctors a true picture of what practicing medicine

is like. Having studied biology as an undergraduate, Kathleen also has generously provided funds to support the biology department and the students who follow in her footsteps. She is just one example of the thousands of engaged alumni who make me feel honored to lead this outstanding institution.

I continue to marvel at the relationships our alumni, as well as our faculty and students, foster in order to enrich the lives of others. The School of Health and Medical Sciences launched its Interprofessional Perspectives Speaker Series in September with nearly 1,000 people coming to Walsh Gymnasium to hear the inspiring story of Eric LeGrand and his rehabilitation team. The Rutgers football player suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury during a 2010 football game and remains undaunted.

LeGrand’s rehabilitation team includes Sandra “Buffy” Wojciehowski ’04/D.P.T. ’07 — his physical therapist. The relationships she has built with her patients at the Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in West Orange might not have been possible without the input of her School of Health and Medical Sciences professors. They steered Buffy toward a career helping patients with severe neurological injuries — at which she so excels.

Buffy’s path to a promising career clearly illustrates what those of us at the University have long known. Talented, hard-working students blossom at Seton Hall, guided by professors interested in their intellectual development and growth as servant leaders. That is something we can all be proud of.

Looking forward, we continue to make significant strides in recruiting and developing the next generation of servant leaders. Last year, we welcomed our largest class in over 32 years and arguably our best prepared.

This year, despite an increase in applications, we purposefully reduced our class size to increase the academic profile of our first-year students. By increasing our selectivity, we ended up with 1,341 freshmen and our SATs increased significantly. In fact, in the past two years, our average SAT scores have increased by 50 points and 35% of our freshmen were in the top 10% of their graduating class compared to 24% just two years ago. As our future servant leaders develop their own connections across campus and with other members of our Seton Hall family, I ask that you continue to be engaged and be a TRUE BLUE Pirate.

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