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Villanova University Announces Second Cohort of O’Toole Family Presidential Scholars

The program, which provides a four-year Villanova University education for students from the Archdiocese of Newark, was established in 2013 through a $10 Million Gift from Terry O’Toole ’80, and wife, Polly.

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

VILLANOVA, Pa. – A $10 million gift from alumnus Terence (Terry) O’Toole ’80, and his wife, Paula (Polly), in 2013 established a program to provide a four-year Villanova University education for students from the Archdiocese of Newark. The O’Toole’s transformational gift affords 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. The gift was part of the University’s $600 million Comprehensive Capital Campaign, “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.”

After naming the inaugural O’Toole Family Presidential Scholars in Sept. 2013, Villanova has now announced its second cohort of O’Toole Scholars: Anthony B. Freay from Bergen Catholic High School, and Erika M. Llivicota from Saint Vincent Academy.

Villanova launched the public phase of its Campaign in Oct. 2013, and to date has raised more than $350 million towards its $600 million goal. The most ambitious in the University’s 170-year history, Villanova’s Campaign is aimed at cultivating academic innovation across its schools and colleges, investing in recruiting and retaining the finest teacher-scholars, dramatically enhancing financial aid and student opportunities, and continuing to build a premier living-learning environment on the University’s 260-acre campus. 

“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, as 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 and current co-chair of its Comprehensive Capital Campaign, The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change, 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 fortunate to receive an academic scholarship to Villanova; it certainly changed my life, and we wanted to provide others the same opportunity,” said Terry O’Toole.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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.

“It is great to see the second group of student recipients identified,” 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. “Educators in the Archdiocese of Newark responded very favorably to the first request for nominees in 2013, and the enthusiasm continued this year.”

“We’ve been very pleased with the way Villanova embraced our original idea and then expanded on it,” added Terry O’Toole. “We intended the gift to support academically gifted students from the Archdiocese, but Villanova added the concept of a support system to help ensure their success.”

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.

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 as sophomores 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  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.”

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. 

The most ambitious Campaign in the University’s 170-year history, Villanova’s Comprehensive Capital Campaign, “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change,” is focused on the following priority areas: Endowment ($250 million); Academic and Programmatic Priorities ($125 million); Facilities ($150 million); and Annual Fund ($75 million). For more information on the Campaign, visit 

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 six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies 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.