VILLANOVA, Pa.—Villanova University President, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, has announced the appointment of Kathleen J. Byrnes, JD, as Vice President for Student Life, effective April 1, 2021. As Vice President, Byrnes will oversee the University’s Division of Student Life, providing overall leadership, management and direction for a wide-range of student-related areas on campus, including health and counseling services, residence life, student involvement, intercultural affairs, fraternity and sorority life, international student services and disability services. Byrnes succeeds the Rev. John P. Stack, OSA, who is retiring after 50 years of service to the University.
Byrnes brings 30 years of experience to her new role, having been involved in all aspects of the undergraduate student experience during her Villanova tenure, most recently as Associate Vice President for Student Life. Her responsibilities have included the oversight of numerous Student Life departments and initiatives, including student organizations, student services and leadership programs, among others. She also co-founded and has remained closely involved in Villanova’s learning communities as well as coordinating Villanova’s Safe Zone, a training program that provides support for the LGBTQIA+ community at Villanova and educational opportunities for all community members.
“While Kathy’s professional experience and contributions to Villanova University speak for themselves, it is her genuine care and concern for students that make her ideally suited to this position,” said Father Donohue. “While a candid, fierce and tireless advocate for students, it is her unassuming and often unknown acts of support for Villanova students, faculty and staff that truly sets her apart. It is clear she is passionate about helping shape the Villanova experience.”
“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve Villanova University and our students in this new capacity,” said Byrnes. “Villanova has shaped the person I’ve become—both during my own college years and more recently as a professional. I will do my utmost to serve and meet the evolving needs of our students in ways that will allow each member to flourish.”
Byrnes’ contributions to Villanova extend well beyond the area of student life. She has been a member of numerous University-wide initiatives around parent engagement, sustainability, compliance and ethics, and the University’s accreditation. She also served as the chair of the presidential inauguration committee for Father Donohue’s inauguration in 2006. Byrnes has been an integral part of Villanova’s sexual assault prevention efforts since the early 1990s and served as the University’s Sexual Harassment Complaint Officer from 1993 to 2020. She was also central in the creation of the Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator team and many of Villanova’s Title IX policies. Additionally, Byrnes has served as an instructor at Villanova, teaching on several topics including law, leadership and Title IX.
A Villanova alumna, Byrnes earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Honors in 1982, and a master’s degree in Theology in 2006. She also received a juris doctorate from Duke University School of Law and practiced corporate litigation with firms in Washington, DC, and Philadelphia. In 1989, she returned to Villanova as an instructor at Villanova Law School and two years later joined the Office for Student Life.
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 M. Louise Fitzpatrick 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 www.villanova.edu.