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

October 13, 2022

Dear Members of the Villanova Community,

I am writing to share news regarding one of our most well-known Villanovans. The Reverend John P. Stack, OSA, passed away peacefully early this morning at the age of 75.

Fr. Stack was an enduring presence at Villanova for more than 50 years. A friend to many, it is hard to envision Villanova University without him. Many will recall his sharp wit, which was both wise and entertaining. Others may remember his helpful guidance, providing perspective for both the trivial and significant moments, but all will recall that Fr. Stack was a larger-than-life personality in this community who had a positive impact on generations of Villanovans.

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 oversaw 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 was 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, St. 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 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 parent events across the country over that same time. Since launching the Parent and Family Engagement program, the University has received more than $100 million in philanthropic contributions from non-alumni parents and collaborated with countless parents interested in assisting with student mentoring, professional 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 was best known to generations of Villanovans as a priest first, but also as a teacher, an athlete, an advisor and friend. Fr. Stack 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 resided there until this past year. For decades, he was a regular at Sunday evening student liturgies—always beginning his homilies with a little bit of humor, and hundreds of Villanovans had Fr. Stack celebrate their weddings and the baptisms of their children. He was also an avid golfer and Villanova sports fan, who was a friend to countless coaches and student-athletes over the years.

For those who did not know Fr. Stack well, he may have been best described by his favorite Augustine quote from The 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 was a tireless advocate for the students of Villanova, the lifeblood of our University community. From a long history of hiring individuals committed to our mission, to his sage challenge to students during 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. 

Fr. Stack will be greatly missed. His counsel brought wisdom, his humor brought joy and his selfless dedication to our students brought inspiration to all who were fortunate to work with him.

I will share funeral arrangements when available, and please keep Fr. Stack, the Augustinian friars and his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.