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University Business Magazine Honors Villanova University as "Model of Excellence"

Villanova recognized for retention program implemented by its Center for Access, Success and Achievement (CASA)

VILLANOVA, PA.–Villanova University is one of six colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine in its 2017 Models of Excellence recognition program.

“To help underrepresented students succeed in higher ed, often academic counseling is simply not enough support,” says Tim Goral, University Business senior editor. “The Diversity Blueprint’s holistic approach to retention offers financial, educational and personal assistance to Villanova students who need it.”

A top-ranked national university on Philadelphia’s Main Line, Villanova has a rigorous academic curriculum and an unwavering commitment to initiatives aimed at student success. The University’s Diversity Blueprint, a conceptual framework and method of funding to make these goals a reality, has been helping underrepresented students succeed for more than a decade. After identifying challenges students were faced with both in and outside the classroom, campus leaders took a more broad-based approach and implemented a retention program known as A.C.T.I.V.E.—Advising, Counseling, Tutoring, Information to Enhance the Villanova Experience.

The idea is to work from a holistic perspective, says Linda Coleman, director of the Center for Access, Success and Achievement (CASA). “You can’t just look at academics. That won’t do it.”

A.C.T.I.V.E. students are connected with staff and student mentors. They also attend programming to build academic and life skills, and meet regularly with retention coaches. CASA offers a life coach and a writing tutor, and even maintains a lending library for students who can’t afford textbooks.

The university’s 250 A.C.T.I.V.E. students have maintained an average G.P.A. of 3.32. The university has bumped up the number of success center students on full scholarship from four to six, and they’re all maintaining a G.P.A. above 2.5.

Perhaps most importantly, the program’s emphasis on self-advocacy and self-care is turning out graduates who see themselves much differently than they did when they entered as freshmen.

“Nothing is more rewarding than to see a student come in unsure of themselves and then they graduate and they’re so confident and accomplished and ready to take on the world,” says Coleman.

In addition to Villanova University, Summer 2017 Models of Excellence honorees include: McDaniel College (Westminster, Md.); Georgia Technical College (Macon, Ga.); University of Louisville (Louisville, Ky.); Endicott College (Beverly, Mass.); and University of Wyoming (Laramie, Wyo.).

Launched in 2015, Models of Excellence is a national recognition program honoring colleges and universities that have implemented innovative, effective and inter-departmental initiatives that are bolstering student success.

About University Business: University Business is the leading publication for senior managers at colleges and universities throughout the United States, reaching 75,000 leaders who manage enrollment, technology, business, finance, facilities and academic affairs. More information is available at

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 Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit