Skip to main content

Longtime Villanova Professor Helen Lafferty, PhD, Appointed Interim President of Youngstown State University

Helen Lafferty

VILLANOVA, Pa.— Helen Lafferty, PhD, a longtime Villanova University professor and administrator, was unanimously voted on Monday, Oct. 10, to serve as the interim president of Youngstown State University, her undergraduate and graduate alma mater.

Dr. Lafferty has been part of Villanova for more than 40 years. She has served many roles including University vice president for 16 years, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and interim vice president of Academic Affairs. She is a faculty member in the Department of Education and Counseling, primarily teaching graduate students in the higher education track. She has also taught courses in Villanova’s prison education program at State Correctional Institution Phoenix.

“Dr. Lafferty is a pillar of the Villanova community, beloved by students and colleagues alike,” says Adele Lindenmeyr, PhD, William and Julia Moulden Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Her unwavering commitment to our students, both as an educator and mentor is remarkable, and it is no surprise that Youngstown State University would seek to utilize her experience and record of leadership as its interim president.”

Dr. Lafferty is on the Board of Directors of the Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor and serves on its Prison Ministry Committee. In spring 2022 she received the University's Earl Bader Award for Teaching Excellence. The University’s Lafferty award is named in her honor, recognizing her many contributions to the Villanova University community. Additionally, Lafferty was also recently selected as an inaugural Aspen Index Impact Fellow with the Aspen Institute, a national fellowship aimed at accelerating access to and quality of youth leadership programs.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, and graduate of Ursuline High School, Lafferty earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from YSU and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, followed by post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University and the National University of Ireland-Galway. She has served on the YSU Board of Trustees but will be stepping down from that role during her tenure as interim President.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit