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A Message from the President: August 2020

August 20, 2020

In this Message:


  • Campus COVID-19 Dashboard
  • Return to Campus: By the Numbers
  • Justice for Black Lives: A Vigil
  • New Title IX Regulations
  • 1842 Day
  • President’s Office Hours for Students

Dear Members of the Villanova Community,

Welcome back.

It’s wonderful to see Villanova once again full of people and activity after months of a very quiet and mostly dormant campus. I would be remiss to not acknowledge the work of the staff members from Grounds Maintenance, Facilities Maintenance Services, Custodial Services, Dining Services, Mail and Graphic Services and the Public Safety Department. Even with campus operations at a standstill due to COVID-19, these staff members continued to come to campus since March and perform their duties.

I would also like to express my overwhelming gratitude to the countless members of our community who were involved in developing and implementing our return to campus plan. Your tireless efforts and the careful consideration you put into planning our return has not gone unnoticed. On behalf of the entire Villanova community—students, faculty and staff—thank you for your phenomenal efforts over the last several months.

Finally, I would also like to thank everyone who played a part in creating a memorable, albeit different, welcome for our new and returning students, including:

  • The staff and students who delivered the New Student Orientation for undergraduates and the First-Year Student Orientation program at the Charles Widger School of Law. 
  • The Residence Life staff and resident assistants who prepared for and welcomed the nearly 5,000 new and returning students moving into our campus residence halls.

Thank you to these individuals and to the countless other departments on campus that helped ensure Orientation and Move In were a success, particularly during a global pandemic.

As we look forward to this fall semester, I am happy to provide the following updates and announcements.

Campus COVID-19 Dashboard

In keeping with our commitment to put Community First, all students, faculty and staff were required to be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus. I am pleased to share that of the 10,261 tests administered, there were only 42 positive cases, which equates to less than one percent (.41%). Those who did test positive will not be able to return to campus until they are cleared by medical professionals.

While this is good news, I do not want anyone to assume that our initial low numbers mean that Villanova is in the clear. We need to remain vigilant and continue to wear masks at all times, maintain social distancing, wash our hands frequently and stay home when sick. As we have seen at other colleges and universities this past week, failure to take these precautions seriously can cause us to end the on-campus semester prematurely.

Moving forward, information about positive cases will be shared via a daily dashboard, which will be available on Villanova’s COVID-19 Campus Plan website starting on Monday, Aug. 24. New information will be posted to the dashboard each day by noon. The dashboard will include information about the number of positive cases, as well as information about the number of those in quarantine or isolation. Many thanks to Dr. Mary McGonigle and her team in the Student Health Center who organized the testing, with assistance from UNIT, Human Resources and Student Life, and who will oversee care for our student cases on campus.

Return to Campus: By the Numbers

Since our decision to return to campus, I have received several inquiries regarding what that return looks like—the number of students who have returned, the percentage living on campus, the number of classes online, etc. I am pleased to report that, overwhelmingly, our students, faculty and staff returned; many of our courses are being taught in person; and our residence halls are nearly filled. The following is an overview of a few key areas:

  • There are 4,945 total campus residents compared to 5,214 at the same time last year. 
  • 98% of students enrolled in Spring 2020 returned for Fall 2020 (excluding Class of 2020 graduates)
  • 4.6% of the traditional undergraduates requested a fully online schedule for Fall 2020.
  • Approximately 60% of our students have three or fewer online courses.
  • Current new first-year student enrollment is 1,695. Our target was 1,675.

Justice for Black Lives: A Vigil

On Friday, Aug. 28, St. Augustine’s Feast Day, I invite you to take part in Justice for Black Lives: A Vigil, which will be livestreamed from 6 to 7:30 p.m. EST. The vigil was organized by Campus Ministry, students and various campus partners in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Justice for Black Lives: A Vigil is an opportunity for our community to stand against racism and inequity. As Villanovans, let us stand in solidarity for justice for Black lives, lament over those killed unjustly, amplify Black voices and activate a path toward real transformation and justice on our campus and in our communities.  

New Title IX Regulations

On Friday, Aug. 14, new Title IX regulations went into effect mandating how colleges and universities investigate and adjudicate formal complaints of sexual misconduct involving students, faculty and staff. Next week, you will receive additional information from Ryan Rost, Villanova’s Title IX Coordinator, about what this means for you as a member of our community. Specifically, you will receive details about what has and has not changed, an explanation of Villanova-specific decisions and information on community conversations to discuss the changes. I encourage everyone to carefully read the updated policies and procedures to ensure understanding of—and compliance with—these new requirements. It is the responsibility of every Villanovan to create a safe environment for all of our community members to live, learn, work and visit. By doing so, Villanova can be what our mission, and the spirit of caritas, calls us to be—a place where mutual love and respect guide all aspects of community life.

1842 Day

I invite you to participate in Villanova’s fourth-annual day of giving—1842 Day—on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The entire community comes together on this day to ignite change and celebrate our University. While this year’s 24-hour day of giving will look different, students, faculty and staff can participate in several virtual activities. Villanovans will be able to support myriad areas across the University, with special emphasis on the following: COVID-19 Response, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Mission and Ministry, Academics and more. We could not achieve our success without the commitment of each of you. To build community around the day, I also invite you to show your Villanova pride by wearing Villanova colors or clothing on that Tuesday—whether working or taking classes on campus or remotely.

President's Office Hours for Students

Each semester, I set aside time on my schedule to meet with students who would like to share ideas, raise concerns or ask questions. For Fall 2020, these meetings will be held via Zoom. Dates and times for the Fall 2020 semester have been posted and can be accessed online. Appointments are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity and look forward to meeting with you.

In closing, I would like to offer a prayer as we begin what I hope will be a productive and fulfilling semester!

Good and gracious God, 
this semester has brought about many changes. 
Help us to meet any challenges and to rise above fear. 
Help us to continue to commit ourselves 
to keeping each other healthy and safe. 
Help us to listen attentively to each other’s needs, 
and continue to put Community First.

And we ask Our Mother of Good Counsel to protect us, and those we love on this journey.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.