A Message From Father Donohue

May 26, 2016


Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

I am writing to announce that the Rev. George F. Riley, OSA, Special Assistant to the President for Alumni and External Relations for the past 25 years, is officially retiring from Villanova University at the end of this month.

Fr. Riley has been an active and beloved member of the Villanova community for the last 60 years. He is a native of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and attended Merrimack College for two years before coming to Villanova and graduating in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He then went to Augustinian College in Washington, DC, for theological studies and received a Master of Arts from Villanova University and the Catholic University of America, where he also earned a PhD in Education. He was ordained in 1962 and has been at the University ever since, serving seven different University presidents.

During his more than five decades at Villanova, Fr. Riley has touched the hearts and minds of many of those around him, impacting the University as a whole by serving in a variety of important roles. After being ordained, he taught theology and ethics at Villanova, was the University’s liaison for the Peace Corps, and made a difference in the lives of countless students as their counselor and advisor in the dorms. He also served as the vocation director for the Augustinian Province of St. Thomas of Villanova and was the secretary and archivist to the Provincial of the Order from 1969 to 1971.

In 1972, Fr. Riley was named Vice President for University Relations, overseeing the Offices of Development, Public Relations, Alumni Affairs and Career Services. In this role, he created the inaugural Villanova Magazine and was instrumental in the University's first two capital campaigns, Covenant I & II, raising more than $83 million for Villanova, which helped to build two campus landmarks—the Connelly Center and The Pavilion.

Fr. Riley was not only fully committed to Villanova, but also to other communities as well, spending his weekends ministering to seven different parishes in South Jersey during the past 50 years, most recently at St. Brendan the Navigator in Avalon. He has also received numerous awards over the years, including the Commodore John Barry Award from the American Catholic Historical Society, the first President's Cup from the Villanova Alumni Association for outstanding service, and man of the year awards from the Hebrew Academy of Atlantic County, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Southern New Jersey, Italian-American Press and State of New Jersey Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. 

I am extremely grateful to Fr. Riley for his contributions to the Augustinian and Villanova communities over the past 60 years. Villanova is a better place because of him: his knowledge has brought wisdom, his humor has brought joy and his dedication has brought inspiration to so many of those around him.

Please join me in thanking Fr. Riley for his service and commitment to Villanova University, and wishing him the very best in this next phase. Although he is retiring from the University, he will always be an important part of the Villanova community.



Fr. Peter Donohue, OSA