Professor Thomas W. Smith Named Anne Quinn Welsh Endowed Chair and Director of the Honors Program

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova is pleased to announce that Thomas W. Smith, PhD, director of the University Honors Program and professor of political science and humanities, has been named the Anne Quinn Welsh Endowed Chair and Director of the Honors Program. The Endowed Chair inauguration ceremony was held on Wednesday, May 9, on campus.

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Jean Ann Linney, PhD, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, thanked Anne Welsh McNulty for her generosity in the establishment of the Anne Quinn Welsh Endowed Chair and Director of the Honors Program.

“This Endowed Chair allows the Honors Program to advance its teaching and research missions in a number of important ways,” Dean Linney said. “By providing resources to attract and retain top-notch faculty and students, the Endowed Chair will build upon the University’s tradition of excellence in arts and sciences education, enabling Villanova to further develop capable, professionally oriented, ethically conscious, and socially aware young leaders.”

The Honors Program is designed to provide exceptional students with opportunities for critical and independent thinking, the creative exchange of ideas, and the synthesis of intellectual insights into lived experience. Honors at Villanova stands at the forefront of Villanova’s long commitment to excellence. Our outstanding faculty educates our gifted students to be the transformative leaders our world needs. Honors prepares students for distinguished careers in law, politics, education, business, medicine, and many other fields.

In the Honors Program, we inspire students to connect their rich talents with a strong sense of their responsibility to lives of service. Honors fosters a community of learners who delight in the life of the mind and in each other.

“An Honors education enables Villanova to engage many goals at once,” Dr. Smith said. “It significantly advances the University's strategic goals of increasing our ability to enroll our most gifted and talented applicants.  But once a student comes to Honors, they are given exceptional attention by faculty through small classes, a high level of intellectual engagement, and a vibrant academic culture.  They become friends with each other in part through their love of reading and ideas. Their lives are transformed through their encounters in Honors, and in turn we expect them to be intellectual and cultural leaders on campus who provide a kind of leaven that enriches the whole Villanova community.”

As holder of the Endowed Chair, Dr. Smith will continue to enhance the academic life central to a Villanova education by bringing together talented students and faculty in challenging seminars, individual research projects, and co-curricular activities. He will advance the University’s mission through teaching, scholarship, and service through the University Honors Program.

“The Endowed chair is a tribute to an Honors Program that was built and sustained by the directors, staff, and faculty who preceded me,” Dr. Smith said. “It's a testament to the excellence of what they built.  At the heart of Honors is the encounter between excellent faculty and great students.  One of the challenges of Honors in the past has been that it does not have its own faculty, but rather borrows them from other departments.  The funds from the endowment will help us create an Honors affiliate faculty program. In this program, faculty from across the university will have the opportunity to take up rotating positions in Honors.  This way, our outstanding faculty will have a more permanent presence in Honors, and both the students and their teachers will be greatly enriched by this.”

About The Anne Quinn Welsh Endowed Chair and Director of the Honors Program

The establishment of the Anne Quinn Welsh Endowed Chair and Director of the Honors Program celebrates the life and legacy of Anne Quinn Welsh by supporting the career of a talented arts and sciences professor, advancing the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and enhancing the education of Villanova students. The Endowed Chair will help Villanova achieve its strategic goals and foster the kind of unique education and research that will reinforce the University as a leading institution of higher education.

One of the most distinctive and distinguished initiatives at the University is the Honors Program. Based in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Honors Program is designed to provide exceptional students with opportunities for critical and independent thinking, the creative exchange of ideas and the synthesis of intellectual insights into lived experience.

The Anne Quinn Welsh Endowed Chair and Director of the Honors Program will enhance the academic life central to a Villanova education by bringing together talented students and faculty in challenging seminars, individual research projects and co-curricular activities.

By providing the resources to attract and retain top-notch faculty and students, the Anne Quinn Welsh Endowed Chair and Director of the Honors Program will expand upon the University’s tradition of excellence in arts and sciences education by enriching the intellectual life of the University, adding distinction to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and enabling Villanova to further develop capable, professionally oriented, ethically conscious and socially aware young leaders.

About Anne Quinn Welsh

Anne Quinn Welsh has been described by her family as a woman of strong faith, forged in the Great Depression, fueled by a strong Irish heritage in an optimistic America and sealed by a steadfast family. Anne Quinn Welsh has enthusiastically shared her faith with family and is a model and inspiration to those who cross her path.

Anne Quinn Welsh grew up in Philadelphia, the third of six children of Irish immigrants. She was a star student at Hallahan High School in Philadelphia and worked at Curtis Publishing at Independence Square. She married Jack Welsh in 1949, just after he graduated from Villanova, and together they raised six children: Mary Rose, John, Anne, Regina, Theresa and Paul. The couple has always had an enthusiasm for the University, and they were loyal and avid Wildcats fans. Through the years,

Mr. and Mrs. Welsh shared with their children not only their love of Villanova sports, but their faith in the transformative power of education. Each of their six children graduated from Villanova, including two valedictorians and one salutatorian, and all went on for graduate degrees.

Mrs. Welsh is now the enthusiastic cheerleader for 20 grandchildren, two of whom have received graduate degrees from Villanova and another who will be attending Villanova in the fall in the Honors Program.

Villanova is honored to play such a special role in the life of Anne Quinn Welsh. She and the Welsh family personify the Villanova values of Veritas, Unitas and Caritas—truth, unity and love. The establishment of the Endowed Chair and Director of the Honors Program in her honor by her daughter, Anne Welsh McNulty ’75, through the John P. and Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation, not only recognizes her commitment to these values and to Villanova, but also provides worthy students with access to the Villanova experience that she finds so valuable, giving them the opportunity to add to the honor and esteem of the Villanova community.

About Anne Welsh McNulty ’75

Anne Welsh McNulty graduated from Villanova University’s Honors Program in 1975, having survived rigorous but rewarding philosophy seminars with Dr. John Doody and Dr. Edwin Goff. As an editor of The Villanovan, she reported on key campus events, including a student occupation of Tolentine Hall in 1974.

Ms. McNulty is co-founder and managing partner of JBK Partners, with businesses including investment management and a private philanthropic foundation. Before starting JBK Partners, she was a managing director of Goldman Sachs and served as a senior executive of the Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund Strategies Group. She and her late husband, John, founded the John P. and Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation in 1985, which supports education, the arts and health and human services organizations.

Ms. McNulty serves on the Board of Trustees at Villanova University and at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Aspen Institute, the Metropolitan Opera of New York and the Child Mind Institute. In addition, Ms. McNulty is a Trustee of the Naples Children and Education Foundation, which benefits children’s charities in Collier County, Florida. Ms. McNulty holds an MBA from the Wharton School and was valedictorian of the Class of 1975 at Villanova University.

Anne Welsh McNulty is the proud mother of Johnny, Brynne and Kevin, and upholds her mother Anne’s values of generosity and service.

About Thomas W. Smith, PhD

Thomas W. Smith was born in Long Island, New York to Edward and Mary who were both teachers. After graduating from Chaminade High School, Tom enrolled in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He married Suzanne Getz, his college sweetheart, and went on to receive his doctorate from the University of Notre Dame. Tom received the Martin Manley Distinguished Teaching Award in Political Science three times. In 2000, he was awarded the University’s Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence. Author of Revaluing Ethics: Aristotle’s Dialectical Pedagogy (SUNY Press 2001), his scholarly articles on politics, education, literature and philosophy have appeared in journals such as American Political Science Review; Review of Politics, Religion and Literature; Polis; Polity; Logos; Current Issues in Catholic Higher Education and the Journal of Politics. His teaching and scholarship focuses primarily on the history of political thought and the intersection of faith and public life. He is currently writing a book entitled Faith in Politics.

Tom holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Humanities and Political Science and is the founding chair of the Department of Humanities. In that capacity he hired ten outstanding faculty across a range of disciplines and helped create an innovative curriculum that continues to attract some of the University’s best students. He has been Associate Dean for Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and now serves as Director of the Honors Program. Under his leadership, Honors has expanded its role in the admissions process, developed new curricular opportunities for students across the University and focused on study abroad and student development.

Tom is deeply grateful for everything Villanova has given him over the last eighteen years and considers it a joy and privilege to serve his vocation here. He lives in Media, Pennsylvania with his wife and their children Thomas, Christopher and Katherine. Thomas is in his second year at Villanova.