Dear Faculty and Staff,
Our campus was buzzing with activity this summer and the changes are visible everywhere you look. From the completion of the new School of Law and renovations to Dougherty and Fedigan Halls, to an updated website and the new myNOVA portal, much has been done to enhance the Villanova experience. As we prepare to begin the fall semester, I would like to take this opportunity to update you on several projects, initiatives, and news from our community.
As it does every year, the summer brought some changes to our faculty and staff. I wanted to share with you a few announcements that affect key areas and campus initiatives:
After fourteen years of service to the University community, Jack Johannes has announced that he will step down as vice president for Academic Affairs at the conclusion of this academic year. He will remain at Villanova as professor of Political Science, and I know he is looking forward to returning to the classroom full-time. Since arriving at Villanova in 1995, Jack has played a leadership role in enhancing the University’s academic programs, adding to the quality and diversity of its student body, and planning for the future. We will have opportunities throughout the year to honor Jack and his contributions to Villanova. In the meantime, please join me in wishing Jack well as he prepares to begin this next chapter in his life and career.
I am pleased to announce that at its June meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a title change for Steve Fugale with vice president for Technology being added to his current title of chief information officer. Steve has led UNIT since 2002 and in that time has implemented systems, programs, and strategies that have positioned the University to maximize technology to enhance its educational experience and its operations. In addition to his IT duties, Steve will continue to lead the ongoing Strategic Planning process at Villanova.
I am grateful that John M. Olson, Ph.D., associate professor of Biology, has agreed to serve as chair of the President’s Climate Commitment Team at Villanova. John has served as a member of the Core Team since its inception and has helped provide direction to the University’s efforts to comply with the goals of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, which I signed in 2007. John replaces John Cacciola, who moved on after more than five years of service to the University.
Rev. Allan D. Fitzgerald, O.S.A., Ph.D., professor of Theology, has been named the new director of the Augustinian Institute. Father Fitzgerald assumes the role left vacant after the passing earlier this year of Rev. Thomas F. Martin, O.S.A. Since 1990, Father Fitzgerald has served as editor of University’s semi-annual journal, Augustinian Studies, and he is also the editor of Augustine Through the Ages, an encyclopedia first published in 1999 which includes entries by more than 150 international scholars. In 1997, he was invited to join the faculty of the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome and served there until his recent return to Villanova. Now, by uniting the Augustinian Institute and the Augustinian Historical Institute, the University is joining the study and promotion of Augustine’s thought with the study of the history of the Augustinian Order.
Finally, I would like to briefly mention a few additions to the University Advancement staff whose efforts will have an impact upon many areas of campus: Christopher Foley, Ph.D., executive director of Constituent Giving Programs; Heather Potts Brown, director of Annual Giving; and Joseph Borillo, director of Corporate Relations. Their roles are designed to go beyond the traditional college- or program-focused fundraisers to broaden the base of support for the University. I know you will join me in welcoming Chris, Heather, and Joseph to the Villanova community and wishing them well in their new positions.
As I mentioned, it was a busy summer on campus. Projects were started and completed in a very short period of time thanks to the hard work of many members of our staff, especially Facilities, UNIT, and Dining Services. I would also like to commend the staff members of our Office of Conference Services, who worked around these projects to keep the campus full with visitors, meetings, and conferences.
Villanova and its Programs Earn High Rankings
I am pleased to report that today Villanova was again ranked #1 in the North Region/Master's category in the US News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” rankings. Villanova was also ranked #1 for “Great Schools, Great Prices.” The College of Engineering earned the #10 spot in the nation in the Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs category. In addition, Villanova placed among the top colleges in the “Strong Commitment to Teaching,” “First-Year Experience,” “Learning Communities,” and “Highest Graduation Rate” areas of the rankings.
I would like to thank and congratulate all Villanova faculty, staff, and students on these outstanding placements.
Fedigan and Dougherty Halls
Both Fedigan and Dougherty Halls underwent significant renovations over the summer. Fedigan is now a “Green Dorm” and features geothermal heating and cooling, new energy efficient windows and fixtures, and storm water rain gardens and porous asphalt sidewalks — all of which will be used within the curriculum in the College of Engineering. The Dougherty Dining Hall has undergone significant changes to allow for new foodservice options, better utilization of space, and a more pleasing dining experience. I encourage you visit these buildings and see the changes first-hand.
New School of Law Building
In early July, Law faculty and staff began moving into their new home just a few steps from Garey Hall. This facility features state-of-the-art technology; plenty of room for teaching, studying, learning and student services; and stunning common areas. A formal dedication is planned for October 5 and additional details will be provided in the coming weeks. I also would like to take this opportunity to thank Doris DelTosto Brogan for assuming the role of acting dean of the School of Law. She has transitioned seamlessly into this role and is working with the faculty, staff, and administrators to move the School forward. A search committee is being formulated and a national search for a new dean will commence in the near future.
Launch of myNOVA Portal and New University Homepage
Villanova recently launched a new online portal for faculty, staff, and students. Known as myNOVA, it brings together information and vital software applications into one easy-to-access location for internal users. The University homepage has been redesigned and refined to focus on delivering key messages and information to external audiences. Separating the way we organize information – the myNOVA portal for faculty, staff, and students and a redesigned webpage for external visitors – will allow users to easier, quicker access to the information they need. Both projects will continue to be refined, and you are encouraged to share your thoughts and feedback with UNIT by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strategic Plan Update
Work continues on the development of the University’s Strategic Plan which will provide direction for the University and its programs over the next ten years. The Board of Trustees was updated in June on the strategic planning process that began in early 2008 and is expected to conclude in early 2010. A series of town hall meetings were held last fall to share preliminary results of the process. As we prepare to share the next stage of the Plan with the Board, another series of town hall meeting are planned for September. Please look for the dates to be announced in the next couple of weeks. I encourage you to attend and contribute to the discussion about Villanova’s future.
Villanova and the Economy
In a series of messages sent last year, I outlined how Villanova was responding to the uncertainty that gripped the economy. I appreciate everyone’s support and cooperation as we implemented measures to manage our costs, reduce spending, and preserve needed financial flexibility. While there are positive indications in the financial markets, we are continuing to monitor the economy and key indicators. Over the next several weeks, we will be working to evaluate these trends and determine the University next steps. I will keep you posted.
St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration
This year’s St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration will occur September 18 and 19. Information about the activities taking place can be found on the web. While not every event may fit into your schedule that weekend, I hope you and your families can participate in at least part of this annual celebration of Villanova’s heritage and mission.
The return of students and the beginning of classes brings a great energy to campus. As we welcome the Class of 2013 and welcome back the returning students, I want to thank you for modeling our Catholic, Augustinian ideals in your work every day.
Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., President