Dear Faculty and Staff:
There is a definite change in the temperature as Fall truly sets in. We have had a year of extreme weather – from record snow to record heat – so as 2010 winds down, I’m sure you join me in hoping that Mother Nature doesn’t have any more surprises in store for us.
However, not even the weather can stop the level of activity on campus and indeed our community has been busy since classes began in late August. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some highlights of what has been accomplished as well as what we’ll be working on in the coming months.
October Events on Campus
Villanova was the site for a series of events in October which brought prominent visitors to campus and put our programs in the spotlight. These events included the launch of the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society at the beginning of the month. The focus for the Waterhouse Family Institute (WFI) will be to study and promote the relationship between communication and positive social change. This Institute, the first of its kind, will help bring visibility to the University and its Augustinian mission while inviting new people to be part of our community’s ongoing conversation regarding social justice issues.
October was also a busy month for the Office of University Advancement which comprises Development and Alumni Relations. In addition to Homecoming weekend late in month, two other events took place on campus which provided an opportunity to engage key alumni. The second annual Leadership Summit on October 7 & 8 brought together 100 prominent Villanova graduates for a discussion of “Globalization” with students, deans and administrators. Attendees also shared how they have leveraged their education and experiences at Villanova into important leadership roles. The Summit featured a keynote speech by Gen. Anthony C. Zinni ’65 VSB, USMC (ret.), and the presentation of the St. Thomas of Villanova Alumni Medal to Herbert F. Aspbury ’67 A&S, the outgoing chairman of the Villanova University Board of Trustees. The Leadership Summit was followed later in the month by the bi-annual meeting of the President’s Leadership Circle, a group alumni, parents and friends who provide input and advice on how to leverage the Villanova network to advance the University. While this is a relatively new initiative, this group has quickly become a great source of ideas and has provided valuable feedback on how to improve our programs and outreach efforts.
Strategic Plan Rollout
While it is important to engage key alumni in leadership opportunities such as those outlined above, it is just as important to provide every member of the Villanova community with a way to be involved with advancing and strengthening the University. With that in mind, I will begin traveling this month with members of our Advancement staff to present to our alumni and parents the University’s new Strategic Plan. I am very excited to share with them our goals and objectives for Villanova, and to ask for their help in achieving them. The future is filled with opportunities and the University is uniquely positioned to capitalize on them. However, we need every member of our community – students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends – to be actively involved in our efforts. Dates have been scheduled for these Strategic Plan presentations around the country and a campus presentation will be scheduled so that I can share with you the messages I’m delivering to our alumni and parents.
Middle States Update
I would like to thank the members of our community who provided feedback on our Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) Self-Study Draft or attended a recent Community Forum. Your input is critical to the process. Each comment will be individually reviewed with an eye toward incorporating your ideas into the final report. This further ensures that the University is conducting its analysis in an open, thorough and thoughtful way.
The next benchmark in the Middle States process is a three-day campus visit in March 2011 from a team of peer evaluators chaired by John J. DeGioia, Ph.D., president of Georgetown University. During this visit, the team will validate the observations in the Self-Study, assess whether Villanova meets MSCHE accreditation standards, endorse suggestions and possibly make suggestions of its own. Ultimately, the Middle States Commission's Committee on Evaluation reviews all of the reports mentioned above and comes to a decision on whether to recommend that the full Commission reaffirm Villanova University's accreditation status. For more information about the Middle States process, please visit the Office of the President tab on the myNOVA portal.
The Search for a New Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The search for a new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is moving forward under the leadership of Rev. Kail C. Ellis, O.S.A., vice president for Academic Affairs. Father Ellis has begun the process of assembling a committee which will review applicants, conduct interviews and recommend qualified candidates. The University is in the process of finalizing a job description and the position will be advertised shortly. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the foundation of our University’s history, mission, and comprehensive educational experience and we are committed to conducting a thorough search to identify the ideal candidate for this key academic position. I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.
Coach Talley’s team is again enjoying a successful season. They are ranked #3 in the nation and have played well in defense of the national championship they won last year. Despite the stellar performance of the team, much of the football conversation on campus and among our alumni is focused on whether or not Villanova will join the Big East as a football member. As you know, the University is a member of the conference for all other varsity sports. Joining the Big East as a football member would require the program to move from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). This would represent a significant change for the University and its Athletics Department. At the request of the Board of Trustees, we are in the process of evaluating all aspects of making – or not making – such a change to our football program. This is a comprehensive and thorough process that requires a great deal of analysis and discussion. Part of the process will include an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to provide thoughts and input. A series of Football Conversations will be announced shortly and I encourage you to attend. We are also examining ways to receive alumni input.
I urge everyone to keep on open mind during this evaluation. Whatever decision we make must be the right one for the University both now and into the future. Despite media speculation, this process is still ongoing and we expect it to continue into early 2011. We are in constant communication with the Big East conference and they are both aware and supportive of our timeline for making this important decision.
This weekend, the University will host the annual Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival for the 22nd year. I am proud of this enduring partnership and the way in which our community, particularly our students, has embraced this opportunity to serve others. For those who are not involved, I encourage you to visit campus to see first-hand how special this weekend is for the participants and their families.
As always, thank you for all that you do on behalf of Villanova University.
Fr. Peter Donohue, O.S.A.