March 2014

Dear Faculty and Staff:

The snow yesterday and the blustery conditions today are just punctuation on a long and difficult winter. As our beautiful campus prepares to bloom, I am pleased to share with you the following information and updates.

A Winter to Remember

This was certainly a winter that we will not soon forget. Beginning in early December, the bitter cold, snow and ice have seemed to be constants. The various delays and closures presented real challenges to the academic calendar, and I am grateful to our faculty for making the needed adjustments to their teaching schedules to ensure the University is able to maintain its academic standards.   

With spring finally here and the snow (hopefully) behind us, I wanted to take a moment to offer my thanks to the essential staff who reported to work during the storms, particularly those who work in Public Safety, Facilities Management, Dining Services, UNIT, Falvey Memorial Library and the Health Center. The employees in these areas kept our campus safe, secure and operational over the past few months no matter the conditions:

  • Staff left their own homes and families despite the dangerous conditions to serve the needs of the University and our students. During the ice storm, this meant coming to work even though they may not have had power at their own homes. They packed bags, prepared to work long hours and stay as long as required. Some slept nearby, in their offices or at the Health Center which offered open beds to staff so they could rest in between shifts.
  • The roads were terrible through most of the storms, often with whiteout conditions. There were several examples of staff walking great distances despite the conditions to make sure they got to work. Public Safety supervisors completed numerous transports throughout the storms to pick up other essential staff to ensure they arrived to campus safely. Emergency transports were done for students who were ill or returning from the hospital.
  • Facilities Management staff worked around the clock throughout the storms to clear and treat the roads, walkways and parking lots, and ensure our physical plant was operating normally. They applied more than 230 tons of rock salt to campus road surfaces this winter season.
  • While the University may have been closed for most faculty and staff during the storms, the students were still here. Dining Services maintained regular operations during each weather event, UNIT worked hard to ensure our systems were up and running, Falvey Memorial Library was open and the Health Center was staffed to meet student needs.

We are fortunate to have dedicated employees who traditionally exceed the expectations outlined in their job descriptions. However, the conditions this winter meant that even more was asked of our essential staff and, of course, they answered. When you see employees in these areas on campus, please join me in expressing thanks for the tremendous commitment they displayed this winter.

Key Items from the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget

At its February 11, 2014 meeting, the University's Board of Trustees approved the Fiscal Year 2015 (FY2015) budget which includes an increase of 3.5% for tuition, room and board. The budget also includes a significant continued commitment to institution-funded undergraduate financial assistance. Villanova now provides more than $87 million in undergraduate financial assistance, an increase of $20 million over the past four years. In addition, the University's FY2015 budget establishes a salary pool for merit-based raises at 2.5%. 

In December, Standard and Poor's affirmed the University's existing credit rating (A+) and outlook (stable). One of the reasons cited for the University's rating and outlook was prudent financial management. The FY 2015 budget reflects the same fiscal discipline that has served the University well for many years.

Recent Athletics Achievements

Our athletics programs have achieved great success again this year and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few recent accomplishments.

  • On February 22 the Villanova women's swimming & diving team dominated the Big East Conference meet, winning 14 of 18 events on the way to capturing the conference title. It was the team's first Big East championship since 1996. Head coach Rick Simpson was named Women's Coach of the Year while Fiona Hardie '16 LAS earned Co-Women's Most Outstanding Swimmer honors.
  • That same day, the men's and women's indoor track and field teams each won team titles at the Big East Championships. The teams combined to win 13 events and the coaches of both teams were recognized by the conference as Coaching Staffs of the Year. The teams moved on to the NCAA championships where they made strong showings, highlighted by a national championship in the indoor mile by Emily Lipari '14 LAS. She is only the third person in the program's storied history to win the indoor mile title.
  • While the men's basketball team ended their season earlier than we hoped, their consistent, stellar play throughout the year earned several accolades including James Bell '14 LAS being named Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Year and head coach Jay Wright being named both the Big East and Philadelphia Big Five Coach of the Year.

Congratulations on these achievements, and thank you to all of our student-athletes and coaches for being such excellent representatives of Villanova University. Go Cats!

Wellness Fair Scheduled for April 15

I encourage you to visit the Wellness Fair on Tuesday April 15 to learn about all of the benefit programs that the University offers. The fair will be held in the Villanova Room at the Connelly Center from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. For those of you that participated in the Personal Health Assessment and Health Screening campaign, attendance will qualify you for 10 NOVAfit! incentive points. Further details can be found on the wellness events section of the Human Resources website.

Villanova Walk@Lunch Day Set for May 1

As a community, we want to encourage physical activity as part of the daily routine. Therefore, Villanova once again will sponsor a Walk@Lunch Day on Thursday, May 1. There are two walks scheduled—at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.—that will leave from the Oreo and follow the walking trail through campus. The walk will officially kickoff the University's spring walking program, called Race the States 2014. For those of you that participated in the Personal Health Assessment and Health Screening campaign, attendance will qualify you for 10 NOVAfit! incentive points. Visit the wellness events section of the Human Resources website for further details.

Summer Hours for Employees

It is encouraging to think of warmer days ahead even as spring gets off to a slow start. To help our employees and departments plan, I am pleased to announce that Summer Hours again will be offered this year. Full-time staff employees will have the opportunity for early dismissal at 12 p.m. each Friday beginning May 16 and concluding August 8.

Summer Hours are an important component of the University's commitment to helping employees maintain a work/life balance. I recognize that many departments on campus will not be able to follow this policy exactly as outlined, especially those with 24/7 operations or those with heavy workloads during the summer months. In these cases, my expectation is that department managers will identify other appropriate opportunities for their employees to achieve the work/life balance intended by the Summer Hours. Please remember that in all cases, the needs of our students and internal and external communities must continue to be served in an exemplary fashion.

I encourage you to visit the Summer Hours policy posted on the Human Resources website for additional information and for a list of the Fridays included in this year's schedule. Please contact your supervisor or the Human Resources Department should you have any questions.

The semester is moving along quickly and thoughts are turning toward Commencement. In a message sent at the beginning of the school year, I discussed some changes to the Commencement schedule that we hope will make this event a more inclusive and enjoyable celebration. Please visit the Commencement website for more information 

Best wishes for a happy, healthy spring!



Fr. Peter Donohue, OSA