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A Message from the President: The Rev. John P. Stack, OSA

January 28, 2021

Dear Members of the Villanova Community,   

I am writing to share some news regarding one of our most well-known and longest-standing Villanova administrators. The Reverend John P. Stack, OSA, Vice President for Student Life, has informed me of his decision to retire at the end of this academic year.

Father Stack has been an enduring presence at Villanova for the past 50 years. A 1971 graduate of Villanova, Fr. Stack was ordained as an Augustinian priest in May of 1974. After his ordination, he taught at Monsignor Bonner High School before becoming the Augustinian Vocation Director based at Villanova. He went on to earn his master’s degree at Villanova in 1977, and, five years later, was named Dean of Students, a position he held until being named Vice President for Student Life in 1999. As Vice President, Fr. Stack oversees a number of student-related areas on campus, including residence life, the university counseling center, student involvement, new student orientation, fraternity and sorority life, intercultural affairs, music activities, the international student program, the student health center, health promotion, Dean of Students Office and disability services. 

Under Fr. Stack’s leadership, there has been an unprecedented expansion of campus life as Villanova transformed from a largely commuter campus to a residential experience. As a result, residential living grew significantly during his tenure, with the additions of St. Monica, Katharine, Caughlin and McGuire Halls on South Campus, the West Campus apartments and, most recently, The Commons. Student-centered campus events and programming were vastly expanded as well to meet the emerging needs of students and their families. Fr. Stack was also responsible for augmenting services in the area of student health. With a vision for establishing holistic health at Villanova, he advocated for the creation of the centralized health center, which became the Health Services Building, and greatly increased the outreach and services provided to students.

Fr. Stack was also instrumental in the formation of the Villanova’s Parent and Family Engagement program, a cross-campus partnership involving the offices of University Advancement, Enrollment Management, the Career Center, Student Life and the Provost. He served as the University Chair of the Parents Executive Committee for more than a decade and represented the University at more than 75 parents events across the country over that same time. Since launching the Parent and Family Engagement program, the University has received more than $90 million in philanthropic contributions from non-alumni parents and collaborated with countless parents interested in assisting with student mentoring, profession development programming and community building, among others—none of which would have been possible without his leadership. Fr. Stack also founded the Center for Peace and Justice Education, originally located in Sullivan Hall. In addition to being a space for student groups, the Center brought together the Peace and Justice academic program with Campus Ministry and Student Life. 

Apart from his professional accomplishments, Fr. Stack is best known to generations of Villanovans as a priest first, but also as a teacher, an athlete, an advisor and friend. Fr. Stack has lived on campus for nearly 40 years, first living in Delurey Hall where he regularly played basketball with students at the courts. In the 1990s, he moved to St. Mary’s Hall and has resided there ever since. For decades, he has been a regular at Sunday evening student liturgies—always beginning his homilies with a little bit of humor, and hundreds of Villanovans have asked Fr. Stack to celebrate their weddings and the baptisms of their children. He is also an avid golfer and Villanova sports fan, who has been a friend to countless coaches and student-athletes over the years. 

For those who do not know Fr. Stack well, he may be best described by his favorite Augustine quote from Confessions , “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” Fr. Stack’s restlessness has certainly led Villanova to a better place. He has been a tireless advocate for the students of Villanova, the lifeblood of our University community. From a long history of hiring individuals committed to growing the many departments within Student Life, to his sage challenge to students on Orientation to live a life akin to Alfred Nobel—who pledged his life to the betterment of humanity—the Villanova community is certainly better for Fr. Stack being a part of it. 

On behalf of the Villanova University Board of Trustees and the entire Villanova community, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Fr. Stack for his leadership and extraordinary service. His counsel has brought wisdom, his humor has brought joy and his selfless dedication to our students has brought inspiration to all who have been fortunate to work with him. 

Please join me in congratulating Fr. Stack on his well-deserved and well-earned retirement.