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$10 Million Gift Establishes O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship Program at Villanova University

Commitment from Terry O’Toole ’80, and wife, Polly, provides four-year Villanova University education for students from the Archdiocese of Newark

“Promise Scholarship” program will identify academically successful high school sophomores and make long-term commitments to chosen students through tuition and system of support

$10 Million Gift Establishes O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship Program at Villanova University

VILLANOVA, Pa. – A $10 million gift from Terence (Terry) O’Toole ’80, and his wife, Paula (Polly), has established the O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship Program at Villanova University. This transformational gift will provide high-achieving high school students from the Archdiocese of Newark – who currently receive funding for their high school education through The Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children (SFIC) – the opportunity to receive their college education at Villanova.

“Villanova is committed to enrolling academically-gifted students who enrich our community with their passion for learning and diversity of thought,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President. “We are tremendously grateful to Terry and Polly O’Toole for their generosity and dedication. It demonstrates the influence a gift can have on strengthening our mission and academic capabilities.”

Terry O’Toole, the former chair of Villanova’s Board of Trustees, was the recipient of a Presidential Scholarship in 1976 to attend Villanova University. Now, he and his wife, Polly, live in Short Hills, N.J. – 12 miles from Newark – where they are active in the Archdiocese of Newark and SFIC. The opportunity to connect this endowed scholarship program at Villanova with their commitment to the Newark community made the gift all the more fulfilling.

“I was a beneficiary of an academic scholarship to Villanova; it certainly changed my life, so I understand the importance of having such an opportunity,” said Terry O’Toole, who is co-chair of Villanova’s Capital Campaign set to launch this fall.

Scholarship and Commitment:

To qualify for the O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship Program, students must receive funding through SFIC and attend a Newark Archdiocesan High School. Villanova will identify scholarship candidates as sophomores in high school and provide them with a support system uniquely designed by several academic and co-curricular departments at the University to assist students in preparing for entry into, and success during, college. By identifying candidates early on for these unique “Promise Scholarships,” Villanova is able to make a long-term commitment to the students and their education. The program will provide students with annual scholarship assistance to support both tuition costs at Villanova and specifically-designed academic, personal and professional support services for each recipient.

“This gift is important to us,” said Polly O’Toole, who serves as a trustee on the board of SFIC, and whose work in Newark includes tutoring and volunteer efforts as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the foster care system. “It creates the opportunity to change someone’s life, but more accurately, to give them the chance to change their lives.”

“Our idea was to marry this scholarship program to the Scholarship Fund [for Inner-City Children],” added Terry O’Toole. “But it was Villanova that came up with the idea of identifying students in their sophomore year and nurturing them along. This is a model that can be really powerful because you’re not just dropping someone into a brand-new college environment; you are guiding them and providing the support systems to help them succeed.”

The O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship will ensure that a Villanova education is economically accessible for students who demonstrate academic achievement, leadership ability and a potential for future development. The program – combined with projected federal grants and University-funded financial assistance – will include all tuition, room and board, books, institutional fees and the opportunity to study abroad, should the student choose to do so. Sophomore students (from Newark Archdiocesan high schools) interested in the program will be nominated by their high school principal and complete the application process – which began for the first cohort of O’Toole Scholars this spring.

System of Support:

Upon selection of the high school students, Villanova will work with each of their respective high schools to provide services that will help prepare them for college. The University has dedicated resources within its offices of Enrollment Management and Admissions, Honors Program, Center for Multicultural Affairs and Career Center to support future O’Toole Scholars as soon as they are identified. Upon graduation from high school, the students will be accepted into Villanova University as Presidential Scholars and members of the Honors Program.

“What’s truly special is that this program model not only provides access to a Villanova education, but identifies students early and provides a system of support aimed at success along the way,” added Fr. Donohue.

The O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship Program will engage students in an academic environment where opportunities for community dialogue and educational growth take place both inside and outside of the classroom. The experience is designed to allow students to deepen and broaden their knowledge within Villanova’s distinctive Augustinian community, while also developing their critical and creative thinking skills.

The Program’s commitment of support for O’Toole Scholars incorporates several key areas across campus, including:

  • Honors Program: This program is the academic home for all Presidential Scholars. It offers students a distinct and challenging academic experience, as well as a community marked by care for students’ holistic development. The Honors Program provides a seminar learning model with class sizes restricted to 16 students, individualized support and an opportunity to be part of a community of students that shares experiences in and out of the classroom.
  • Center for Multicultural Affairs: The Center for Multicultural Affairs provides a welcoming atmosphere and services to support the University’s mission of respecting individual differences. O’Toole Scholars will have access to cohesive and comprehensive support to help them realize the full benefits of a Villanova education.
  • Career Center: O’Toole Scholars will participate in a professional development readiness program, which will prepare them for college, as well as summer employment and service or leadership training while in high school. Students will receive individualized attention in preparing resumes and interviewing for summer jobs and internships.

A Champion for His Alma Mater:

Terry O’Toole graduated with a degree in economics from the Villanova University School of Business (VSB) in 1980 and is an ardent supporter of the University. In 2007, he endowed the deanship in VSB in honor of his parents, Helen and William O’Toole, helping support VSB’s vision as a premier business school built upon outstanding faculty and academic quality. Additionally, for more than two decades, he has supported the University’s official student newspaper of record, The Villanovan, a publication of which he once served as editor.

The former chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, O’Toole is co-chair of Villanova’s forthcoming Capital Campaign. He has also served as a member of the Campaign Organizing Group, Steering Committee, Chairman’s Task Force and the VSB Dean’s Advisory Council.

“The University benefits tremendously not only from the incredible generosity of Terry and Polly O'Toole, but most importantly from their clear, consistent and genuine commitment to education and drive to want to make a difference,” said Mike O’Neill, Villanova’s Vice President for University Advancement. “Their long standing dedication to Villanova is impressive and will help us to solidify our vision for the future. We are proud to bring the O'Toole Scholars Program to fruition.”

O’Toole is a co-managing partner of Tinicum, Inc., a private investment partnership based in New York City. Prior to joining Tinicum in 2006, where he manages Tinicum Capital Partners II, L.P., and Tinicum L.P., he spent 21 years at Goldman, Sachs & Co., where he was a partner, member of the investment and partnership committees, and the chief operating officer of the Principal Investment Area (PIA), the private equity investing arm of the firm of which he was a founding member. 

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.