Frank Falcone ’70 COE, ’73 MS and Robert Pizzano ’70 COE sat across from a group of Villanova students, all of them exhausted from another day of digging trenches and laying pipework to bring clean water to their host community in Panama. It was hot, humid and unforgettable.
“You talk about powerful impressions—we’re there with our students, carrying buckets of water to these houses with no water. Our students get it; it changes their lives,” Frank says.
For Bob, the experience was a turning point, shaping his philanthropic commitment to the University and ensuring a positive impact for Villanova students.
As 1842 Heritage Society members, longtime friends Frank and Bob have each made a planned gift to Villanova. Their gifts will have a significant payoff for future generations of Villanovans—in the meantime, the pair is actively involved in the areas they support.
After retiring in 2014, Bob sought a way to apply his talents and resources to a good cause. His son, a member of the Class of 2019, told him about Villanova Engineering service trips to Panama—part of a 25-year partnership between the University and a Catholic missionary.
Bob connected with Frank—whom he first met when they were civil engineering students and midshipmen in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at Villanova. An Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering, Frank has been involved in the Panama service project since 2010. The program was initiated in 1990 when a graduating student expressed an interest in devoting his engineering skills to those in need. The partnership works to provide approximately 16,000 rural and impoverished Panamanians with a consistent supply of fresh water—an accomplishment that’s the first of its kind anywhere in Central America.
Throughout the weeklong trek, Bob and Frank worked, participated in daily reflections and explored the local culture alongside students. On rides to the worksite, the group shared stories about their Villanova experiences—present and past.
“I’ve done volunteer work before, but this trip was more than that for me. I really felt like I was connected to Villanova again,” Bob said.
That feeling spurred another action. When Bob returned to the U.S., he contacted Villanova’s Office of Planned Giving to make an estate gift. He designated the funds to the College of Engineering, with the purpose of offsetting the cost of future service trips for students.
“When Bob told me about his gift, something in my mind clicked. I wanted to do something more for Villanova,” Frank said. “A planned gift is a very reachable way to make a difference.”
So, Frank made his own commitment to the Professional Development Track Program, a new initiative in the College of Engineering. Frank recognized the difference his support could make in propelling students and alumni to their dream careers.
The lesson Bob and Frank hope to share with others?
“Become a part of your gift,” Bob said. “Go on a service trip, or just come back to campus. It truly opens your eyes to the importance of supporting Villanova students.”
Read more about how the Villanova Engineering Service Learning project in Panama began, featured in the College of Engineering’s annual report (page 31).
Content originally posted by the Villanova Office of Planned Giving.