SHU Dean Michael Alfano Named ACE Fellow

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University’s Michael Alfano, vice provost for strategic partnerships and dean of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education & Human Development, has been named an ACE Fellow by the American Council on Education (ACE).

Alfano is one of 36 ACE Fellows selected this year, following a nomination by SHU President John J. Petillo and a rigorous application process. “I am incredibly thankful to President Petillo for nominating me and to Provost Robin Cautin for her ongoing support of my application. It’s an honor to have been selected to be part of the 2023-2024 cohort,” said Alfano.

Since the fellowship’s inception in 1965, the program has strengthened institutions in American higher education by preparing more than 2,500 faculty, staff and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership through its distinctive and intensive cohort-based mentorship model. Of the fellows who have participated to date, more than 80% have gone on to serve as chief executive officers, chief academic officers, other cabinet-level members and deans.

“The ACE Fellows Program has a proven track record of developing agile leaders, and it fuels the expansion of a talented and diverse higher education leadership pipeline,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell, noting that the fellows “engage in unique learning experiences before returning to their home campuses, armed with a fresh outlook and distinct skill set.”

The program combines retreats, interactive learning, visits to campuses and other education-related organizations with placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year. “A year of working with higher education leaders from around the country promises to be a rigorous professional development opportunity. I look forward to applying all that I learn in the program to my work at Sacred Heart University,” Alfano said.

During the outside placement, fellows will observe and work with their host institution’s president and other senior officers, attend decision-making meetings and focus on issues of interest. Fellows also develop projects based on matters of concern for their home institutions and seek to implement their findings upon completing the fellowship placement.

When the program year ends, fellows return to their home institutions with new knowledge, skills and a network of peers across the country and abroad.


About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing private doctoral institutions in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has a campus in Dingle, Ireland, and offers online programs. More than 10,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education & Human Development; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 388 Colleges–2023 Edition, and Best Business Schools–2023 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre.

Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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