Applying Business to Education
McColgan attended Villanova on an ROTC Scholarship as an undergraduate and then served in the Navy for four years. Following his passion for politics that began as a child, he ran for U.S. Congress twice and Philadelphia City Council. “People would ask me, why would you run for Congress at such a young age? And the answer is that I believed I could do some good, and I still feel that way today,” McColgan explains.
After working in financial services for several years, McColgan returned to Villanova in 2008 to obtain his Executive MBA. In 2017, he became president of Saints Neumann Goretti High School in South Philadelphia. Although many fellow Catholic high school presidents come from an academic background, McColgan feels his business background and the skills he gained in the EMBA program have served him well. “Education is a business, after all” he says. Education had been a cornerstone of his political campaigns and McColgan strongly feels that “you can’t solve the problems in Philadelphia until you solve the problems of education in Philadelphia.”
When McColgan arrived at Neumann Goretti, the school had declining enrollment and a $1.1 million deficit. Enrollment has since rebounded, academic outcomes have improved significantly and the budget is projected to surplus next year. McColgan credits this success to his strong team at the school and the systems-thinking mindset he learned at Villanova. “Almost every day I am using the skills I learned from Villanova. The EMBA program really opened my eyes to effective problem-solving, asking the right questions and finding solutions.”
Neumann Goretti has a long tradition in its neighborhood. McColgan recognizes the importance of maintaining the school’s strong ties in the community, and he works to cultivate relationships with local businesses and community organizations. At an open house event earlier this year, McColgan overheard a parent telling prospective families how her daughter comes home happy every day, sharing how great the people are and how the teachers are always willing to help. McColgan later introduced himself to the parent and thanked her. “I told her she just validated everything we are trying to do here. And it made me feel good that we are on the right path, knowing that we are doing good things not only for the community, but for Catholic education in the city.”
Originally published in the Fall 2022 Issue of Villanova Business magazine.
Joe McColgan ’08 EMBA
“You can’t solve the problems in Philadelphia until you solve the problems of education in Philadelphia.”