Leading by Example
From an assistant attorney general for the Pennsylvania Department of Justice, to a private practitioner in the financial services industry, to an entrepreneur and founder of the investment management firm Brinker Capital, Charles Widger ’73 has always advocated for innovation.
After more than 30 years of experience in the field, Widger understands the unparalleled value of his Villanova Law degree. A long-time champion of Villanova Law and proponent of its “Where Law Meets Business” philosophy, Widger made his biggest investment in Villanova Law in 2016. His generous $25 million investment supports the continued growth of academic innovation at Villanova Law—specifically through the Charles Widger '73 Leadership Scholarship, the Charles Widger '73 Endowed University Professor and the Dean’s Innovation Fund.
“My Villanova Law education has been instrumental to my success. It helped me establish the professional competence and confidence to pursue and perform roles and responsibilities outside my comfort zone,” said Widger. “The intellectual tools of analysis and expression we learn and practice as lawyers are clearly transferable to decision-making in business. I have worked at developing and refining these tools during my entire career. I still do, and this vital work began at Villanova.”
Upon graduation, Widger worked for the Pennsylvania Attorney General, but after three years decided he wanted to focus on tax law. He started working in the financial planning group of a large financial services firm, which later became CIGNA, and got his LLM in Taxation. In retrospect, Widger remarks that those three years in financial planning were the set up not only for his success in the management and investment business—but ultimately the creation of his firm.
“In my financial planning position I learned a great deal of technical material and became acquainted with the basics of running a national enterprise,” said Widger. “I thought I would go back to private practice but what I wound up doing through a series of different roles and responsibilities was to develop a broad and reasonably sophisticated grasp of the wealth management industry. I chose to put this knowledge and the skills I developed to work as an entrepreneur.”
Widger founded the investment management firm Brinker Capital in 1987, based on the beliefs that individuals have diverse investment goals and that everyone should have access to the same investment services that are available to large institutions, foundations and endowments.
“Any successful enterprise, be it a business, a university or a law school has three essential elements—culture, strategy and people. Villanova Law has them all,” said Widger. “I know with great clarity that a Villanova Law degree can transform a life, which is why I chose to invest in its future.”