February 1, 2016

Dear Faculty, Students and Staff,

It is with mixed emotions that I announce John Y. Gotanda, The Arthur J. Kania Dean of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, will be leaving Villanova in June to become President of Hawai’i Pacific University in Honolulu, Hawaii. It has been my great privilege to work with John, and while we will miss his extraordinary leadership and energy, Hawai’i Pacific University is incredibly fortunate to have such a talented academic and true visionary as its next president.

As many of you know, John is a long-standing member of the Villanova community, and since joining the University in 1994 has held many important roles—as a professor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean for Research and Director of the JD/MBA Program, before being named as Dean in 2011.

John’s achievements are numerous. His vision to create a law school that is both forward-thinking and innovative—while remaining true to its history and traditions—is one of his greatest accomplishments at Villanova. John stepped into the Dean’s role during a difficult time for law schools across the country, and he was certainly up to the challenge.

Under John’s leadership, the Law School has flourished academically, responding directly to recent widespread changes in the legal industry. Today, the School’s core curriculum is based on the “Where Law Meets Business” philosophy that John championed, pairing professional development skills with real-world learning to prepare its graduates for success.  During his tenure, the Law School has created four Centers of Excellence, where law students can pursue innovative, interdisciplinary legal study that, in turn, helps them to thrive in the workplace, serve others in their communities and practice law according to the highest ethical standards.

John also advocated tirelessly to ensure the future success of the Law School and to engage key constituencies in turning his vision into reality. The Villanova Law Campaign to Ignite Change—the most ambitious fundraising initiative in the School’s history—was launched this past fall and has already exceeded its $50 million goal due, in part, to the recent landmark $25 million gift from Charles “Chuck” Widger ‘73. This was the largest gift in the Law School’s history, the second largest in the University’s history, and resulted in the first named school at Villanova.

Although I am saddened by John’s departure, I am extremely grateful for his many contributions.  His dedication has helped our Law School and Villanova University reach new heights. It is truly an honor that one of our own has been selected for such a prestigious position. I know that this is a homecoming for John as he returns to his native Hawaii.

Please join me in thanking John for all that he has done for Villanova and in wishing him well as he begins this exciting next chapter.



Fr. Peter Donohue, OSA