A Message from the President
March 25, 2021
Dear Members of the Villanova Community,
As I shared in January, the Rev. John P. Stack, OSA, Vice President for Student Life, has decided to retire after 50 years of dedicated service to Villanova University. Today, I am pleased to share that Kathleen J. Byrnes, JD, will assume the position of Vice President for Student Life, effective April 1, 2021.
Kathy currently serves as our Associate Vice President for Student Life and brings 30 years of experience to her new role. As Vice President, Kathy will provide overall leadership and direction for 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, International Students, the Student Health Center, Health Promotion, the Dean of Students Office and Disability Services.
A Villanova alumnus, Kathy earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Honors in 1982, and a master’s degree in Theology in 2006. She also has a Juris Doctor 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. Two years later, Kathy joined the staff in the Office for Student Life.
Kathy’s experience in student life is vast, having been involved in all aspects of the Villanova undergraduate student experience during her tenure. She co-founded, along with Jack Doody, PhD, Villanova’s learning communities and has been closely involved with the program since its inception. Currently, Kathy also oversees numerous departments within Student Life, including Student Involvement, Fraternity and Sorority Life, First- and Second-Year Initiatives, Music Activities, International Students and Disability Services. Her previous responsibilities have included overseeing New Student Orientation, the St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration and Commencement; serving as advisor to the Student Government Association and VU Pride; and coordinating Villanova’s Safe Zone program, a LGBTQIA+ training for students, faculty and staff.
Kathy’s contributions to the University extend well beyond the area of student life. She has been a member of numerous University-wide committees, including the Parents Executive Committee, the past three Middle States committees, the Sustainability Leadership Council, the Compliance and Ethics Committee, and my presidential inauguration committee, for which she served as chair. She has been an integral part of Villanova’s sexual assault prevention efforts since the early 1990s, and was Villanova’s Sexual Harassment Complaint Officer from 1993 to 2020. She was also central in the creation of the Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator (SARC) team and many of Villanova’s Title IX policies. In addition, Kathy has continued as an instructor at Villanova, teaching on several topics including law, leadership and Title IX.
While her professional experience and contributions to Villanova speak for themselves, it is Kathy’s genuine care and concern for students that make her ideally suited to this position. The aforementioned endeavors scarcely scratch the surface of what her presence has meant to Villanova and our students over the years. While a candid, fierce and tireless advocate for students, it’s her unassuming and often unknown acts of support for Villanova students, faculty and staff that truly set her apart. In speaking with Kathy about the role, it is clear that she is passionate about helping shape the Villanova experience, which she credits with shaping and forming who she is today.
Please join me in congratulating Kathy on her new leadership appointment within Student Life.