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Villanova University Receives $13 Million Gift from Charles Widger, Esq., ’73 and Barbara Widger to Enhance the Law School’s Efforts in Preparing Future Leaders in the Legal Profession and Beyond

The gift also provides support for advancing faculty research, student scholarships and initiatives at the intersection of law and business.

photo of Barbara and Charles Widger
Barbara and Charles Widger, Esq., ’73 JD.

VILLANOVA, Pa.—Villanova University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, today announced a $13 million gift from Charles Widger, Esq., ’73 JD and Barbara Widger that will propel the Charles Widger School of Law to the forefront of professional development and leadership programming in legal education. In 2016, the Law School was named for Mr. Widger in recognition of a transformative $25 million leadership gift to the school; with this gift, the Widger family’s lifetime giving to the University increases to more than $43 million.

“I am extremely grateful to Chuck and Barbara for their enduring generosity. Their gift enables Villanova Law to continue providing a transformational experience for our Law students, empowering them to become tomorrow’s leaders in the legal profession,” said Father Donohue. “Their generous commitment allows us to strengthen our professional development and leadership initiatives, advance faculty research and create a new program for young alumni to establish endowed student scholarships.”

“It is our hope that creating these new initiatives and investing in existing ones will enable the Law School to launch into its next great chapter,” Charles Widger said. “In strengthening the focus on professional development and leadership for our students, the Law School will help guarantee lifelong success for those practicing law grounded in ethics and a commitment to the common good. It is imperative for our lawyers of tomorrow to have the ethical understanding, leadership skills and business acumen to solve the complex problems facing the world today.”

The Widger family’s new gift, in part, will expand Villanova Law’s Professional Development and Leadership Program. It will provide support for programmatic needs, as well as create several new positions of critical importance to lead and expand the program, including an endowed associate dean for Professional Development and Leadership, a director for Professional Development and Leadership, a director for Public Interest and a faculty liaison for Professional Development and Leadership.

“I am grateful to Chuck for envisioning what is next for the Law School and for helping us to turn it into a reality,” said Mark C. Alexander, JD, the Arthur J. Kania Dean and Professor of Law. “These funds will solidify Villanova Law’s position at the forefront of professional development and leadership programming in law schools across the country, an area that is continuously identified as necessary by the American Bar Association and employers. Ethical, professional leaders are much needed in today’s challenged and changing world. I am extremely grateful for Chuck’s continued guidance and involvement in the Law School, and that he and Barbara are, once again, placing their trust in us in such an extraordinary way.”

In addition, the gift will build upon the foundation established by Mr. Widger’s naming gift to support the Where Law Meets Business philosophy that has guided the Law School over the last several years. Funding will be used for a practitioner in the John F. Scarpa Center for Entrepreneurship and Law and a new visiting professor position in intellectual property, as well as other strategic initiatives at the Law School.

The gift will also strengthen faculty research and scholarship overall, including support for the development of scholarship in the areas of economics, business, entrepreneurship and related regulatory issues. Additionally, it will provide a first-of-its-kind match to young alumni for the establishment of endowed student scholarships.  

About Charles Widger, Esq., ’73 JD: Charles Widger is founding partner of East Bay Merchant Partners, a family investment firm. Previously Mr. Widger founded Brinker Capital Investments, now an Orion company. Earlier in his career, he practiced law in Pennsylvania and worked as an assistant attorney general for the Pennsylvania Department of Justice. He is the co-author of The New York Times behavioral finance bestseller Personal Benchmark and is chair emeritus of the Money Management Institute, the $7 trillion managed account industry’s association. Mr. Widger is a member and past chair of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law Board of Consultors and a past chairman of the Gettysburg College Board of Trustees. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, and he holds an LLM in Taxation from the Boston University School of Law. Mr. Widger also served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy.

About Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law: Founded in 1953, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law provides broad-based legal education that is grounded in academic rigor, practical, hands-on training and a foundation in business that prepares graduates for diverse and rewarding legal careers. The Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association, offers six in-house clinics and more than 150 externship opportunities that immerse students in the real-world application of their legal skills. Villanova is home to centers of excellence—the Center for Law and Religion; the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance; the John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship; and the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law—that provide students the opportunity to pursue innovative, interdisciplinary legal fields through study, practical experience and mentorship.

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