August 2016

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The start of an academic year is always an exciting time—the campus is once again full of energy and enthusiasm, it’s an opportunity for a fresh start, a chance to try new things and learn something new. It also marks the beginning of the Class of 2020’s time at Villanova and the last fall semester for the Class of 2017. Wherever you are in your Villanova journey, I encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself and make 2016-2017 a great year.

It’s been a very busy summer on campus as we have undertaken a number of projects. I have highlighted below several important University initiatives, as well as some of the transformative updates that took place during summer break.

175th Anniversary

This January, Villanova will celebrate the 175th anniversary of our University’s founding. To commemorate this milestone, we will begin celebrating the anniversary this semester and continue throughout all of 2017.

This demisemiseptcentennial celebration will consist of a number of events and initiatives in and around campus to mark 175 years of Augustinian Catholic education at Villanova, including lectures, signage, contests and much more. While you will begin to see information about the 175th this fall, the official kick-off of the celebration will take place in January. Additional details about Villanova’s demisemiseptcentennial celebration and how you can participate will be available from my Office very soon.

President’s Opening Address to the Villanova Community – Monday, August 29

Please join me for the sixth annual Opening Address to the Villanova community scheduled for Monday, August 29, at 3 p.m. in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center. This event has become a wonderful way for our entire community—students, faculty and staff—to gather together to mark the beginning of the academic year, outline shared goals and discuss upcoming initiatives for 2016-2017 and beyond.

A Conversation with the President - August 27

Please join me for the sixth annual Opening Address to the Villanova community scheduled for Monday, August 29, at 3 p.m. in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center. This event has become a wonderful way for our entire community—students, faculty and staff—to gather together to mark the beginning of the academic year, outline shared goals and discuss upcoming initiatives for
2016-2017 and beyond.

Climate Survey on Sexual Violence

Colleges and universities across the country are beginning to measure the incidence and prevalence of sexual assault on their campuses. Last November, all undergraduate students were invited to participate in Villanova’s first climate survey on sexual violence in order to share their perspectives and experiences.

The survey’s results will be used to improve Villanova’s response and resources related to sexual violence moving forward. In the very near future, Ryan Rost, Villanova’s Title IX Coordinator, will share the findings from this important survey and discuss Villanova’s continuing efforts to strengthen sexual violence prevention and response efforts and to minimize barriers to reporting.

I am extremely grateful to everyone who was involved in, and participated in, this survey. I strongly encourage all Villanovans to find ways to create a safer environment for all members of our community to live, learn, work and visit. By doing so, Villanova can be what our mission, and the spirit of caritas, calls us to be—a place where mutual love and respect guide all aspects of community life.

Campus Construction

The time between Commencement and Orientation provides the best opportunity to address projects throughout campus, and numerous exciting enhancements and additions were made this summer. Work began on the first part of a two-year project in Mendel Hall to fix the roof and air-conditioning system, and two large lecture halls were converted into five new classrooms in Garey Hall. The Exchange in Bartley Hall was renovated and reconfigured, and the Falvey Reading Room—a 24-hour study space that will unite Old and New Falvey—is scheduled to be completed this fall. The administrative and residence hall space in Austin Hall were also renovated, and Alumni Hall now features new bathrooms and flooring. Work is also nearly complete on the West End Zone project, which is scheduled to open in late September.

Lancaster Avenue Development Project

There also are several ongoing projects that are part of the multi-year Lancaster Avenue development plan to create a premier living and learning space for our students. The parking lot around Moriarty, Griffin and Geraghty Halls, now called the L-2 lot, is complete. There is also a new walkway from Lancaster Avenue to St. Thomas of Villanova Church in preparation for the beginning of work on the pedestrian bridge at Church Walk later this fall. The pedestrian bridge is targeted to be completed by Fall 2017.

The traffic light in front of the Church and the corresponding driveway is also scheduled to close permanently in mid-October. A new traffic light and driveway, called St. Thomas Way, will replace it. Progress also continues on the Ithan Garage taking shape on the rear portion of East Main Lot. This garage is scheduled to be completed by January 2017 and will be available for parking in the spring semester. Once the Ithan Garage is complete, work can begin on the new residence halls and the Performing Arts Center. The targeted completion date for the residence halls is the summer of 2019 and the Performing Arts Center currently has an approximate completion date of January 2020. Please note that these are all targeted completion dates as construction progress is contingent upon many factors including weather and ground conditions.

Villanova Station Improvements

There is one other project to be aware that will affect our campus community. SEPTA has begun work at the Villanova station on West Campus to elevate the train platform, add stormwater management controls, reorganize parking and build a new tunnel. The current tunnel will be open during construction and SEPTA anticipates the project to conclude in fall of 2017.

I know these construction projects can be disruptive and cause temporary changes to your normal routines, but it is important to remember that these short-term inconveniences will benefit Villanova for years to come. I would also like to thank and recognize the Office of Facilities Management for their efforts. The projects outlined here are just a small sampling of the incredible amount of work that was completed over the summer to ensure that our buildings and grounds stay looking their best.

2016 St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration - September 22-25

The St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration (STVC) provides our community with a unique opportunity at the beginning of the academic year to celebrate our Augustinian mission and values. 2016 marks the eleventh year of this multi-day event which provides opportunities for each member of the Villanova community to be involved. The full schedule of events is posted on the STVC website, but I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight two events:

  • Thursday, September 22 - The St. Thomas of Villanova Lecture will be delivered by Elizabeth Kolbert, author of this year's One Book Villanova selection, THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: An Unnatural History, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, one of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the Year, and a National Book Critic's Circle award finalist. I am pleased that the One Book Villanova program and STVC can be aligned in this way at the beginning of the academic year.
  • Saturday, September 24 - The St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service will once again unite thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni and families in service to the community. The Day of Service is defined by great fellowship, powerful service and lasting relationships with service partners, helping to set the stage for a year filled with opportunities to put our Augustinian ideals into action.

I would also like to recognize and thank Ryan Brunnock ‘17 CLAS, the 2016 Student Chair, for his leadership and dedication to making this year’s event a success. For more information about all of the STVC events and to register for the Day of Service, please visit

Reminder: Commencement Nominations are Due Friday, September 2

Nominations for Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients are due no later than Friday, September 2. Please review the original call for nominations from July for information to include. Nominations should be submitted via email to the Office of the President.

Orientation and Move-in: Thank you!

I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the countless members of our community who played a part in creating a memorable welcome for our new and returning students.

  • The staff and students who delivered the First-Year Student Orientation program at the Charles Widger School of Law and the New Student Orientation for undergraduates. In particular, I would like to recognize and thank the New Student Orientation staff of more than 100 students, under the direction of Elias Volk ’17 CLAS, who helped ensure a smooth transition for the Class of 2020, transfer students and their families.
  • The Residence Life Staff and 110 Resident Assistants who prepared for and welcomed the approximately more than 4,000 new and returning students who moved into our campus residence halls.

Thank you to these individuals, as well as the countless other departments around campus, who helped ensure Orientation and move-in were a success.

Best wishes for a productive and fulfilling academic year!



Fr. Peter Donohue, OSA