CPS Celebrates the Class of 2023 During Memorable Commencement Weekend

Students at CPS Evening of Celebration

Beginning on Thursday, May 18, Villanova University celebrated the achievements of the graduating class of 2023. This celebration included the College of Professional Studies (CPS) honoring its collection of graduating adult and non-traditional students, with a variety of ceremonies, awards, and recognitions throughout the weekend. 

The hard work and dedication of those graduating from CPS was on focus at the college's Evening of Celebration, held in the John and Joan Mullen Performing Arts Center. Graduates, along with their families and loved ones, were welcomed and applauded by Dr. Christine Kelleher Palus, Dean of the College of Professional Studies, as well as University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA and a host of other members of Villanova's staff and faculty.

Graduate Shelby McGrath Myers delivered the student address, congratulating her fellow CPS grads. 

Shelby Myers speaking

Throughout the event, CPS awarded and recognized students for their achievements, with 60 total students completing their studies to comprise the class of 2023. The 46 students in that group that earned their bachelor's degree were invited to attend University Commencement the following day, where their degrees were conferred alongside the rest of the University's graduates.


Thomas J. Mentzer Award

Each year, the Thomas J. Mentzer Award is given by the Center for Peace and Justice Education, to a graduating Villanova senior from any of the colleges who has contributed significantly, through his or her service, to "expanding opportunities for the poor and marginalized."

The award remembers Thomas J. Mentzer, a Villanova graduate of 1955, who later became a faculty member in the History Department. He was active in many of the social issues of the time, including work to oppose racial conflict and segregation. 

This year's award was presented to Michael DiMaio, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in Public Service Administration. Michael is a veteran, having served in the United States Air Force. He is the founder of Infinite Mission, a non-profit organization offering aid to veterans, those struggling with substance abuse issues, and those in need. Following his time at Villanova, Michael will be joining the US Department of Veterans Affairs, as a support specialist for the outpatient Behavior Health Interdisciplinary Program.


Grit Award

Each year, this award celebrates students who have demonstrated exceptional passion, courage, persistence, commitment, and strength of character during their academic studies at Villanova.  This year, two students were recognized. 

Alice Ford

Alice Ford is a mother, small business owner, community advocate, and Villanova employee. While working overnights at the Inn at Villanova and running her own haircare business, she completed her BIS with a double major in Public Administration and Leadership. Alice obtained a position with the City of Philadelphia's first community resource internship cohort, through which she immerses herself to learn what community members truly want and need and how the City can better meet those needs. 

Alice held an event on Villanova's campus for high school students, has an active proposal for a program that would employ Philly HS students over the summer to help them learn job skills and experience higher education, and will attend the European Innovation Academy this summer with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute. 

Robert O'Reilly-Gindhart

Robert began his academic journey at Villanova in 2008, after transferring from St. Anselm College. In 2009, he lost his father to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite the support from administration and faculty members at Villanova, Robert struggled academically and left CLAS in 2009.

After a long journey, Robert was accepted into Villanova’s College of Professional Studies. The following summer he became the victim of a brutal attack, that left him hospitalized with a severe concussion and to endure an 8-hour surgery. As a result, Robert suffered from alcohol use disorder, and in 2018 he sought treatment. It didn’t take long before Robert became a leader in his recovery community. 

In the Fall of 2019, Robert returned as a student at the College of Professional Studies. Since doing so, he earned a 4.0 GPA and now hopes to attend law school. With a law degree, Robert hopes to one day become a public defender in the City of Philadelphia and make positive contributions to criminal justice reform.



Steve Merritt Award - Tim Hoffman

Each year, the College of Professional Studies honors a member of our Villanova community with the Steve Merritt Award.  Named after Dean Stephen (Steve) Merritt, one of the most beloved and influential administrators at Villanova, this award celebrates dedicated and humble service to Villanova, as well as a deep and lasting commitment to the Villanova values of Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas in support of students in the College of Professional Studies.  

This year's award was presented to Tim Hoffman, the University’s Vice Provost for Finance and Administration. His work quietly and effectively helped CPS continue to grow and evolve each year. 


VUnited Scholars

In 2023, the Evening of Celebration featured a new group of honorees. In the Fall of 2021, the College launched a new program for students with intellectual disabilities to enroll at Villanova for an inclusive higher education experience. This evening, we award the first five students in this program a “Certificate in Community and Professional Development” from the College. 

Five students (Zachary Brooks, James Gorman, Alexandra Griffin, Liam Higgins and Luke Meyers) completed the program and received their certificates, after two years of academic success, internships across campus, and immersion into the VIllanova community.

Student receives degree

Academic Recognition

Cum Laude Honors

Sean Lufkin

Montea Roundtree

Magna Cum Laude Honors

Danielle McCullough

Shelby McGrath Myers

Mary Grace Salomone

Summa Cum Laude Honors

Ingrid Lis