Where It All Began
James C. Curvey ’57 VSB, a former member of Villanova’s Board of Trustees and a longtime executive with Fidelity Investments, established the program in 1999, combining his passion for education with his dedication to Schuylkill County, in the heart of Pennsylvania coal country. It’s where he grew up, and where he and his wife, Shirley, were high school sweethearts.
He started by offering one scholarship for one student from Mahanoy City, Pa. Now, students from five high schools in northern Schuylkill County are eligible for the scholarship, with four selected each year. Curvey also expanded the program in 2019 to include one student each year from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., another community in which he is engaged in the success of local students. To date, there have been 57 Curvey Scholars—15 current students and 42 alumni.
“Villanova made a huge difference for me, and I wanted the program to benefit kids who were just like me, for whom a Villanova education could open up a whole new world,” Curvey says. The scholarship is only one part of the story of Curvey’s generosity to Villanova and its students.
Scholars also can apply for a Curvey Fellowship—up to $20,000 to travel anywhere in the world, for any reason they choose. The only requirement is that they return to campus after their trip to share their experiences with other scholars. Fellowship itineraries have taken students to dozens of countries across six continents.
Curvey also has established an endowed staff position in University Advancement at Villanova—the James C. Curvey Assistant Director of Endowed Scholarship Services—to support and sustain the program and others like it on campus.
Curvey does more than just fund a significant portion of the Curvey Scholars’ education. He is available to them for professional and personal advice during their student years and long after; he visits campus each spring for the annual Curvey Scholars gathering that unites current and past scholarship recipients; and he pays close attention to their lives, ensuring that they have all they need to be successful. On more than one occasion, he has bought students their first suits so that they could attend formal or professional events.
“Jim Curvey saw great potential in these students, opened the door to an exciting world, and has taught them to seize opportunities,” says University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75 CLAS. “He has ignited change in the lives of nearly 60 people and counting.”
Curvey Scholars, past and present, are a tight-knit group. Their bond is forged by their shared connections to Villanova, to their hometowns and to Curvey. At the 20th anniversary event in Curvey’s honor, each of the current and graduated scholars in attendance received a piece of anthracite coal as a memento—a reminder of where they’d come from, and of the family in Schuylkill County and at Villanova that they’ll always be a part of.
“We’ve changed lives,” Curvey says. “It’s been a magical journey.” ◼︎