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Villanova University receives $2.5 million commitment from Nance Dicciani (’69 COE) to Establish Endowed Chemical Engineering Chair in College of Engineering

Villanova College of Engineering alumna Nance K. Dicciani, PhD ’69
Villanova University College of Engineering alumna Nance K. Dicciani, PhD ’69

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University has received a $2.5 million commitment from College of Engineering alumna Nance K. Dicciani, PhD ’69 COE – retired president and chief executive officer of the Specialty Materials Division, Honeywell International, Inc. – as part of the University’s $600 million Comprehensive Capital Campaign, “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.” Designated for the College of Engineering, Dicciani’s gift establishes the Nance K. Dicciani Chemical Engineering Chair.

“The University’s unique environment of caring and sense of community, coupled with its Augustinian traditions and its commitment to personal and academic growth were instrumental in shaping my life’s path,” Dicciani said. “Villanova’s professors gave me the academic foundation and personal confidence to follow my dreams and I want to ensure that the learning experience I benefited from remains possible for future Villanovans, especially in the areas of engineering and science.”

Added Dicciani, “To paraphrase a line in my Villanova yearbook – Villanova was a wonderful place to be and an even better place to become.”

Villanova launched the public phase of its Campaign in Oct. 2013, and to date has raised $401 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.

“In her role as a University Trustee and through her involvement with the College of Engineering, Nance has distinguished herself as an advocate for academic excellence,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President.  “She is particularly focused on supporting students who are preparing for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields that are in such great demand today. Nance’s commitment will help ensure that the College of Engineering has exceptional faculty mentors that continue developing student leaders for generations to come.”

The establishment of the Nance K. Dicciani Endowed Chemical Engineering Chair adds a strong teacher-scholar to the College’s Department of Chemical Engineering. The holder of the Dicciani Chair will provide leadership in recruiting faculty and in the development of curricular offerings at the undergraduate and graduate level. They will also contribute to positioning the department and College at the forefront of research in this important area, thereby raising the Chemical Engineering program’s visibility within the research and doctoral university community.

“This gift provides us with a great opportunity to bring a strong scholar and teacher to our excellent Chemical Engineering department,” said Gary A. Gabriele, PhD, Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering. “Nance Dicciani is one of our most prominent graduates and a great role model for our engineering students and graduates. She has been a loyal and generous supporter of Villanova and the College of Engineering as well as a strong advocate for our strategic plan to enhance our position as a premier national university.”

The College of Engineering’s Campaign Priorities include Faculty and Student Support, Facilities, Academics and Programs, and Endowment.

“Nance’s gift bolsters our progress to meet our total goal for the Endowment, our greatest campaign need,” said Michael J. O’Neill, Vice President for University Advancement. “This is a tremendous investment in Villanova’s commitment to academic excellence and its future.”

Nance K. Dicciani, ‘69 College of Engineering, retired from her position as president and chief executive officer of Honeywell International’s Specialty Materials Division in 2008 after serving in the position for seven years. Prior to joining Honeywell in 2001, Dicciani was Senior Vice President and Business Group Executive of Chemical Specialties, and the Director of the European Region for Rohm and Haas, where she also directed operations in the Middle East and Africa.  During her tenure at Rohm and Haas, she also served as Vice President of the Petroleum Chemicals Division and headed the company’s worldwide monomers business.  She also held positions in engineering, research, commercial development, and business management at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., where she worked for nearly 14 years.

The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Dicciani was named by Forbes as one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” in both 2004 and 2005, as well as being named one of the “Top 40 Most Important People in the Chemical Industry” by Chemical Business in 2006. She was a recipient of the Henry F. Whalen, Jr. Award from the American Chemical Society; the J. Stanley Morehouse Memorial Award, as well as the Professional Achievement Award from Villanova University’s College of Engineering; and the Achievement Award from the Society of Women Engineers. Dicciani was also named the Warren K. Lewis Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003.

Dicciani has been a member of Villanova University’s Board of Trustees since 2009. She presently serves as chair of the Villanova Board’s Trustee Committee, and sits on several other Board Committees, including the Executive, Academic Affairs, Athletics and Executive Compensation committees. Dicciani currently serves on the Board of Directors of LyondellBasell Industries; Halliburton Company; Praxair, Inc.; and Universities Research Association, Inc.  She is a Former Member (appointed by President George W. Bush) of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; a Former Member, Board of Directors, American Chemical Society; and Former Vice President and Executive Committee Member, Society of Chemical Industry.

After earning her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Villanova, where she was also president of the Alpha Xi Delta Sorority and Organization Editor of the Belle Aire Yearbook, Dicciani earned an M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Dicciani resides in Fort Washington, Pa. 

For more information on the Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change, visit

About Villanova University College of Engineering:  Founded in 1905, Villanova University College of Engineering is committed to an educational program that emphasizes technical excellence and a liberal arts education within the framework of the University’s Augustinian Catholic tradition. The result: “Whole-Brain Engineers,” who pursue both knowledge and wisdom, and aspire to ethical and moral leadership within their chosen careers, their community and the world.

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. For more, visit