Message from the President - March 2015


March 2015

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Friday marked the official start of spring and with it brought several inches of snow. However, I am optimistic that we have seen the last of the winter weather and our beautiful campus will soon be in full bloom. With warmer temperatures hopefully right around the corner, I am pleased to share with you the following information and updates.

Provost Search

Thank you to everyone who participated in the interviews with the provost candidates. I have read through all of the survey comments and am giving them prayerful reflection. Once I reach a decision and the search firm concludes their work, I will present my recommendation to the Board of Trustees for appointment. The Board is scheduled to decide on the selection within the next week, so I hope to make an announcement shortly after the Easter break. I would also like to acknowledge and thank the members of the Search Committee for their time, engagement and commitment to the process. 

PhD in Theology

I am very proud to announce the launch of a new doctoral program in Theology. Adding this program to our curriculum enhances Villanova’s reputation as one of the leading Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

This unique program is the first of its kind in the country to be designed, from conception to implementation, with a focus on faith engaging culture through the lens of the Augustinian tradition of intellectual inquiry. Students in this rigorous, six-year program, housed within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theology and Religious Studies, will be challenged to relate faith and culture to their times. The program is open to people of all faiths and spans ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary thought.

I would particularly like to thank Adele Lindenmeyr and Peter Spitaler, under the leadership of Father Ellis, for their hard work in developing and implementing this course of study. I look forward to welcoming the first class of students in Fall 2016 to our University community.

Community Engagement Report

Involvement in the Villanova community and the community at large embodies who we are as a University. Working with offices from across campus, the Office of Planning and Institutional Research (OPIR) recently compiled a report that summarizes the breadth of service programs and community engagement activities in which Villanova students, faculty and staff engage. The 2014 report entitled, “A Volume of Community Engagement, Community Service and Service Learning,” provides specific examples that highlight community engagement, community service and service learning initiatives across the University.

The information collected for this report was a key factor in Villanova being selected as one of 240 U.S. colleges and universities to receive the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification, which I mentioned in my email at the beginning of this semester. I extend my sincere appreciation to OPIR for coordinating the effort to catalogue this information and create a comprehensive record of how Villanovans contribute to the common good, and apply knowledge and skills to the betterment of the human condition.

Athletic Achievements

I know we were all hoping for a different result this past weekend for our men’s basketball team, but our athletics programs have achieved great success this year and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few recent accomplishments.

•   The men’s and women’s indoor track & field teams each won their second straight BIG EAST titles. Jordy Williamsz '16 VSB from the men’s team was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer after winning the 3000 meters and anchoring the Wildcats champion distance medley relay. Katherine Petruzzellis '15 CLAS from the women’s team was chosen as the Most Outstanding Field Performer for winning the heptathlon and the high jump, in addition to a fourth place finish in the 60 meter hurdles. The men’s and women’s teams combined to have a total of 45 All-BIG EAST honorees. Villanova also earned first team All-America honors in the men’s distance medley relay at the NCAA Championships and two members of the women’s team earned All-America recognition in the mile.  

•   For the second year in a row, Villanova women won the BIG EAST title in swimming and diving. Kaisla Kollanus '16 VSB was chosen as the Women’s Most Outstanding Swimmer and head coach Rick Simpson was named the BIG EAST Women’s Coach of the Year for the second straight year. Villanova won 14 of the 18 events at the conference championships and had a total of 16 All-BIG EAST performers. The Wildcats won all five relays while breaking two individual and two relay school records.

•   The men’s basketball team earned a top seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second time ever and won both the regular season and postseason BIG EAST championships, while setting a new program record for wins in a season.  Ryan Arcidiacono '16 CLAS was named the co-BIG EAST Player of the Year and is only the third player in program history to receive this honor. Josh Hart '17 CLAS was selected as the BIG EAST Sixth Man of the Year and head coach Jay Wright was voted BIG EAST Coach of the Year for the fourth time. Wright is also one of four finalists for the Naismith Men’s Coach of the Year award.

Congratulations on these achievements, and thank you to all of our student-athletes and coaches for being outstanding representatives of Villanova University.

IT Security Awareness Training

It seems like every other week there is a new security breach at major corporations like Sony, Target and Home Depot. As we have seen, colleges and universities are also not immune to this troubling trend. Avoiding a disruption to campus operations and safeguarding personal information, confidential university data and intellectual property are paramount to protecting Villanova.

With that in mind, UNIT has created an IT User Awareness program in Blackboard to take a proactive approach to securing the University’s information. Because it is critical that each member in our community understand his or her role in preventing a data breach on campus, this training is mandatory and needs to be completed by May 1. The safety and security of our students, faculty, staff and alumni are of the utmost importance, and I appreciate your cooperation in this important effort. Thank you to UNIT for coordinating this initiative and to everyone who has already completed the training.

World Meeting of Families

The World Meeting of Families will take place September 21-27 in Philadelphia and will be highlighted by a visit from Pope Francis. More than two million people are expected to descend upon the region to take part in the week’s activities, particularly the Papal Mass scheduled for September 27. Interest in the World Meeting of Families is extremely high with many expressing a desire to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Under the leadership of Chris Kovolski, assistant vice president for Government Relations and External Affairs, several members of our community are working together to coordinate Villanova’s participation. Volunteers will play an important role in the World Meeting of Families and event staff will be on campus Monday, March 30 to conduct a volunteer information session for interested students, faculty and staff at 11 a.m. in the West Lounge of Dougherty Hall.

Information about additional opportunities for involvement and the ways Villanova is participating will be shared in the future. In the meantime, please consider serving as a host family for an individual or family visiting Philadelphia. Securing hosts is currently the greatest need identified by the World Meeting of Families and is a wonderful way to share in the spirit of the event. For more information about this opportunity and the World Meeting of Families please visit:

Villanova Walk@Lunch Day Set for April 30

I hope that you will join me for Walk@Lunch Day on Thursday, April 30. There are two walks scheduled—at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.—that will leave from the Oreo and follow the walking trail through campus. The walk will officially kickoff the University's spring walking program. For those of you that participated in the Personal Health Assessment and Health Screening campaign, attendance will qualify you for 100 NOVAfit! incentive points. Visit the NOVAfit! section of the Human Resources website for further details.

Summer Hours for Employees

I am pleased to announce that Summer Hours again will be offered this year. Full-time staff employees will have the opportunity for early dismissal at 12 p.m. each Friday beginning May 15 and concluding August 14.

Summer Hours are an important component of the University's commitment to helping employees maintain a work/life balance. I recognize that many departments on campus will not be able to follow this policy exactly as outlined, especially those with 24/7 operations or those with heavy workloads during the summer months. In these cases, my expectation is that department managers will identify other appropriate opportunities for their employees to achieve the work/life balance intended by the Summer Hours. Please remember that in all cases, the needs of our students and internal and external communities must continue to be served in an exemplary fashion.

I encourage you to visit the Summer Hours policy posted on the Human Resources website for additional information and for a list of the Fridays included in this year's schedule. Please contact your supervisor or the Human Resources Department should you have any questions.

The semester is quickly moving toward completion and Easter break is right around the corner. Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover or simply the arrival of warm weather, I hope that our upcoming break provides the opportunity for reflection and relaxation.



Fr. Peter Donohue, OSA