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Villanova University President The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Honored by the American Catholic Historical Society with 2015 Barry Award

The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President

Villanova, Pa. – Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, will be honored by the American Catholic Historical Society on Friday, Nov. 20 with its 2015 Barry Award. This annual award recognizes an American who, “by his or her character and contributions to the Church and community, and by professional accomplishments, has distinguished him/herself.” The award is named for John Barry, Father of the American Navy, who by his activity, lifestyle, patriotism and achievement established the qualities for which the award is presented.

Father Donohue is being honored for his dedication to academic excellence and his commitment to seeing Villanova University’s Augustinian ideals put into action on campus and beyond. The award presentation will take place Nov. 20 at the Union League in Philadelphia.

Father Donohue became the 32nd president of Villanova University on June 1, 2006. As president, he has worked together with students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents to strengthen the Villanova community and renew its commitment to the institution’s Catholic, Augustinian and educational mission. Father Donohue has charted a course of significant transformation at Villanova, including embarking on an ambitious 10-year strategic plan, launching the University’s largest comprehensive fundraising campaign, initiating a vibrant physical campus renovation and dramatically expanding student opportunities.

Under Father Donohue’s leadership, Villanova implemented a Strategic Plan designed to build upon its past success and guide the University through 2020, and launched a $600 million comprehensive capital campaign, “For the Greater Great®: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.” The most ambitious in the University’s 173-year history, “The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change” is aimed at enhancing financial aid and student opportunities, cultivating academic innovation across its schools and colleges, retaining the finest teacher-scholars and continuing to build a premier living-learning environment on the University’s 260-acre campus.

Father Donohue is dedicated to providing a distinctive academic experience to students across all colleges and disciplines by forging student-faculty partnerships that connect teaching, research and extracurricular initiatives; identifying new and distinctive pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning; and developing Centers around distinctive institutional competencies. Under his guidance, the University has increased its commitment both to interdisciplinary learning and the creation of new Centers of Excellence. In addition, numerous Villanovans are earning national scholarships and awards for their academics and leadership, including 24 Fulbright Scholarships during the past two years.

Father Donohue believes strongly in the important role that community service plays in the Villanova educational experience and has instituted an annual Day of Service, held each September. The St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service – one of the largest single-day service initiatives in the region – serves as a symbol of Villanova’s commitment to the community throughout the year. Villanovans provide nearly 250,000 hours of service annually in communities locally, regionally and globally.

Villanova’s strong commitment to its Augustinian Catholic Mission is evident through numerous programs – both service and academic. The University began a partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in 2005 and, since that time, has worked collaboratively to advance global solidarity through education, research, advocacy and service. This past year, Villanova expanded upon its work with CRS and has partnered with the organization in Madagascar to improve conditions with respect to water, sanitation and hygiene. The Center for Church Management and Business Ethics—housed in the Villanova School of Business (VSB)—is at the forefront of educating church leaders. Over the last year, the Center has partnered with both Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and the Archdiocese of New York for important educational programs. In addition, Villanova recently announced the launch of a new doctoral program in Theology, housed within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

A member of Villanova University’s Board of Trustees, Father Donohue also serves on the boards of Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass.; Malvern Preparatory School in Malvern, Pa.; St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland, N.J.; the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce; the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.

Born in the Bronx, N.Y., and raised in Royal Oak, Mich., Father Donohue earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a concentration in Theatre and Communication Arts, from Villanova University in 1975, and was ordained an Augustinian priest in 1979. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Theatre from The Catholic University of America, an M. Div. degree from The Washington Theological Union, and a doctoral degree in Theatre from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While pursuing his doctorate, Father Donohue taught theatre at the University of Illinois, where he received honors for outstanding teaching. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest, largest and most selective all-discipline honor society.

Father Donohue is a tenured associate professor at Villanova who served as chair of the University’s Department of Theatre from 1992 to 2006. He annually directed musical theatre productions on campus, earning six Barrymore Award nominations and one Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical from the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

The American Catholic Historical Society (ACHS) was founded for the purpose of collecting and preserving materials relating to American history and the contributions of Catholics to the building of our great nation, as well as the Catholic Church in the United States. It is the oldest historical organization of its kind in the United States. A non-profit organization, ACHS continues to promote the documentation and interpretation of the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. It accomplishes its ongoing mission by publishing an award-winning academic journal, American Catholic Studies; sponsoring Society functions; and through the preservation of its historical collections, located at the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Historical Research Center. The focus of the American Catholic Historical Society is primarily educational with a special emphasis on the arts, culture, and humanities as they relate to Catholic Studies and U.S. history.

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