Villanova University Launches Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society

New Institute explores ethical dimensions of communication and its role in creating social change

A $3-million gift from Lawrence Waterhouse Jr., ’59 A&S, founder of Waterhouse Investor Services, Inc., led to the creation of the Waterhouse Family Institute

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- With a $3-million gift from Lawrence Waterhouse Jr., ’59 A&S, founder of Waterhouse Investor Services, Inc., the precursor to TD Waterhouse Investor Services and later TD Ameritrade, Villanova University has launched The Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society. Through cutting-edge research and student programs, as well as the hands-on involvement of communication scholars and professionals from around the globe, this new institute explores the ethical dimensions of communication and its role in creating social change.

The Waterhouse Family Institute (WFI) is founded on the principle that the study and practice of communication requires attention to ethics and social justice, and that properly understood, communication is central to the creation of positive social change. WFI is housed within Villanova University’s Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“WFI represents a uniquely Villanova offering; many colleges and universities have programs related to social justice, but none that focus on communication and its fundamental role in social change,” said Bryan Crable, founding director of the Waterhouse Family Institute and chairperson of Villanova’s Department of Communication. “This new Institute emphasizes the vital importance of communication as the means by which societies both create and prevent social change.”

The University will commemorate the Institute’s launch with a two-day celebration Oct. 1-2. The launch kicks off Friday night, Oct. 1, with a gala at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, featuring two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. He is the co-author, along with his wife, of The New York Times’ bestseller Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which addresses the worldwide mistreatment of and brutality toward women.

The Launch events continue Saturday, Oct. 2, on the Villanova University campus with an inaugural conference that joins together communication scholars and professionals from the around the world to discuss the power of communication to create positive social change.

“The Launch of WFI marks an important milestone for the University, because of the Institute’s potential to make Villanova the center of a global network of communication scholars and professionals,” added Crable.

The Institute promotes the study of mission-driven communication, emphasizing ethical leadership, social justice and community and the ability of those key influencers to create a more just world. Towards that goal, WFI will focus on three central activities:

  • Supporting student-centered programs and activities:
    WFI supports programs and activities that give Villanova students the chance to explore important communication issues in corporate, community and international settings, and beyond. Activities range from a unique Vatican Internship Program, to a Center for Social Justice Film that exposes students to important societal issues and allows them, through the creation of social justice documentaries, to serve as advocates for those issues.
  • Funding innovative scholarly research:
    In addition to cutting-edge research done by Villanova faculty and students, WFI also funds research conducted by outside scholars interested in examining communication, its impact on the world and ability to create social change. Communication scholars from across the world can apply for the funding of research grants that exemplify the mission of the Institute.
  • Connecting communication scholars and professionals:
    Renowned scholars and professionals from across the world come together at Villanova to debate various topics that highlight the impact communication can have on the creation of social change. The Institute hosts conferences and symposia dedicated to examining the relationship between communication and social change.

More information on the Waterhouse Family Institute can be found at the Institute's website: wfi.villanova.edu