Donor Spotlight

Mike Best and Kate Carrubba

Donor Spotlight: Mike Gardner ’67 CLAS

Mike Gardner ’67 CLAS is thankful for and proud of the Augustinian grounding he received during his time at Villanova, which he considers the foundation for his life. “I support Villanova and its initiatives so I can give back to the University for all they have given to me during my undergraduate years, career and life,” Mike said.

Originally from the West Coast, Mike relocated with his family to northern Virginia for high school in Washington DC before moving onto Villanova for college. Following his graduation from Villanova, Mike accepted a position with IBM and spent more than 40 years in a high-tech career in Silicon Valley.

He gives back to the University by promoting entrepreneurship among Villanova students through the Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute, which seeks to advance collaborative, multi-disciplinary innovation and entrepreneurship at Villanova by providing scholastic, educational and professional development opportunities.

In addition to his role as an Advisory Council member for the ICE Institute, Gardner further lends his expertise and mentorship to the Villanova community by serving as West Coast Chair of Villanova in the Valley. This ICE Institute-sponsored entrepreneurship immersion program for students held each January in Silicon Valley provides participants with opportunities to visit regional companies and attend networking events and educational tours where they hear first-hand from investors, entrepreneurs, startups, large companies and innovators.

His philanthropy to the University is very personal, as Villanova holds a special place in the Gardner family. “Both of my children went to Villanova and—most importantly—I met and married my wife while at VU,” Mike said.

Mike Best and Kate Carrubba

Donor Spotlight: Mike Best ’11 VSB and Kate Carrubba ’11 CLAS

The Villanova experience is rooted in the relationships people form at the University, and Mike Best ’11 VSB and Kate Carrubba ’11 CLAS are a testament to that tight-knit community.

The couple met during their time at the University and were married on-campus by University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church.

“We support the University first and foremost because of the people we’ve met – whether that’s our lifelong friends we met on campus, the connections who’ve helped advance our careers or the fellow alumni we see impacting our world for the better,” Best and Carrubba said.

After graduating from Villanova, Best, who grew up in Newtown, Pa., guest lectured for the Villanova School of Business on the professional use of social media and networking. He then joined Carrubba in San Francisco, where they were thrilled to discover that their beloved Villanova community extended far beyond campus.

Best and Carrubba, who are involved with the Villanova University Club of Northern California, participate in service days and attend incoming student events in the area, including Villanova in the Valley, a student immersion program hosted by the University’s Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute that exposes participants to the global innovation and entrepreneurship of the Bay Area.

Best and Carrubba also serve as a resource to current students by regularly attending the Villanova in the Valley networking event, as well as a dinner organized by the ICE Institute that provides students with a more intimate setting for networking with recent Villanova graduates working in Silicon Valley.

Upon moving to San Francisco, Best joined a Villanova-founded company recently acquired by Salesforce, where he is currently a Sr. Product Manager helping nonprofits and universities with fundraising and donor management. Carrubba, who grew up near Santa Cruz, Calif., manages the website for Janie and Jack, a specialty children’s retailer.

Both remain devoted Villanova Basketball fans, attending Bay Area basketball game watch events—including those early 9 a.m. PST Saturday games—and even getting their two cats in on the fun with feline-sized basketball jerseys.

Bob Tyson

Donor Spotlight: Bob Tyson ’86

Bob Tyson ’89 JD, ’86 VSB—who hails from Staten Island, NY, and has made his home in San Diego for more than 30 years—may not be physically close to Villanova anymore, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t continued to feel a deep closeness to the University. “Anyone who knows me—or really has even just met me, knows I went to Villanova,” Bob said. “It was the best seven years of my life!”

It’s Villanovans themselves that have kept Bob tied so closely to the community. “The people [at Villanova] were just so nice,” he recalls. “From fellow students, to teachers, to administrators—it was always a feeling of family.”

Bob still remembers attending his first VU Alumni event after moving to California and feeling overjoyed to be surrounded by “such nice people again.” Since then, he has been closely involved with the Club of San Diego, even serving as president for four years. In recent years, Bob also has had the “tremendous honor” to serve on the national VUAA Board and the President’s Advisory Council. Bob says he is also fortunate to still be close friends with the Rev. John P. Stack, OSA, Vice President for Student Life, who has continued to play an important role in his family life, including officiating his wedding and baptizing and performing First Holy Communions for his three children.

Today, he is a founding and managing partner of Tyson & Mendes, as well as a civil trial lawyer who “loves being in trial!” Like many Villanova University graduates, Bob has gone on to make an impact and ignite change in his career—including successfully resolving a variety of high profile cases and winning awards such as California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) award from the California Bar Magazine.

Even with all his success, Bob has never forgotten his roots and has made it a priority to support the University both through his philanthropy and service. “I owe Villanova a lot,” he said. “Villanova provided me with many of the opportunities for advancement and career success that I enjoy today and will always be a big part of who I am.”


Tom Furst

Donor Spotlight: Tom Furst '65 VSB

Tom Furst ’65 VSB found his inspiration in the extraordinary experiences he shared in the halls of Villanova University. As the student body president who introduced Martin Luther King to the Villanova  community on January 20, 1965 and as a member of Blue Key, Tom was embedded in Villanova’s spirit and success. “The experience of this deep involvement contributed so much to who I am and to the skills I developed”. His passion for Villanova manifested into dedicated support which is felt on campus today and through his work within the West Coast Region.

As a member of the Class of 1965 Reunion committee, Tom partnered with Dan Capodanno ’65 CLAS to help coordinate the alumni outreach effort for the West Coast Region. The Class of 1965’s combined efforts yielded a tremendous turnout – gathering more than 18% of their classmates back on campus and raising more than $17 million for the University. Furst has also been involved in the “Villanova in the Valley” program, exposing Villanova students to innovative, creative and entrepreneurial opportunities in Silicon Valley. 

Tom lives in California with his wife, Betsy. Over the last 50 years, he has worked in large organizations within the high tech and professional services industries. He served as senior vice president and CFO of SRI International, an organization responsible for the development of such transformative technologies as SIRI (the virtual personal assistant) and robotic surgery (the founder of Intuitive Surgical, maker of the da Vinci system), among others. Currently, he serves as interim CFO for US Flare Management, a startup working to reduce natural gas flaring at the wellhead. Furst is also the business strategy consultant for the aviation documentary, “Flying the Feathered Edge”, starring the decorated US Air Force fighter pilot, Bob Hoover, and Harrison Ford.

“Villanova has always been an important part of my total life experience. I am proud to support innovation at Villanova University and be a part of its proud living history as it moves forward, celebrating its past and setting an exciting course for its future.”


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Laura Wharton Director of Major Giving, West Coast

Laura Wharton
Director of Development, West Coast
(484) 433-2637