A Message from the President - August 2013

August 2013

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Welcome to the newest members of the faculty and staff who are beginning their first academic year as a member of the Villanova community, and welcome back to those for whom the return of students marks another milestone in their careers at the University.

Summers have become an extremely busy time on campus and this year was no different. Camp Villanova and the summer conference season have wrapped up after bringing nearly 15,000 attendees to campus who participated in more than 100 different Villanova and outside group-sponsored programs ranging from sustainable energy to healthcare to the history of video games. These visitors joined students taking summer classes, prospective families touring campus, and the workers busy on projects throughout campus.

That activity now winds down, replaced by activity related to the return of students and the beginning of classes. As the new academic year begins, I am pleased to share with you the following information and updates.

Summer Projects

The sounds of summer on campus this year included a lot of digging, cutting and pounding as Facilities staff and contractors tackled projects large and small. A great deal of work has been completed but there are some projects that will be concluded during the semester. Below are some highlights of this summer's activity:

  • The third phase of the Transformation of the Campus Landscape Initiative has featured work in the Connelly Center plaza/circle, Dougherty Drive and in the area between Falvey Memorial Library, Corr Hall and Alumni Hall. Completion is scheduled for just before Homecoming Weekend in October. While the end to the work is near, adjustments to pedestrian and vehicle patterns are still required. Thank you for your continued patience as we work to create a campus core that is more safe, accessible and vibrant.
  • Dougherty Hall received new windows, a sprinkler system, upgraded HVAC and improved ventilation in the kitchen.
  • A new sprinkler system was installed on the ground floor of St. Mary’s Hall while, as the first of a two part effort, half of the vanities and floors were replaced in the resident rooms above.
  • Picotte Hall and Montrose Mansion at the Villanova Conference Center both received interior design upgrades and aesthetic improvements.

Along with these large projects, several other minor ones were completed in a very short timeframe. No matter the size, each project is important to the ongoing maintenance and renewal of the University’s physical plant to ensure it meets the needs of our students, faculty and staff. I am grateful to our Facilities staff who worked on these projects while also accommodating regular summer campus activities, classes and events.

President’s Opening Address to the Villanova Community - August 29

Please join me for the third annual Opening Address to the Villanova community scheduled for Thursday, August 29 at 3:30 p.m. in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center. Refreshments will be provided. This has become a great way for students, faculty and staff to gather together to mark the beginning of the year, outline our shared goals and discuss upcoming initiatives. I look forward to seeing you there.

2013 St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration - September 26-29

Each fall, the St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration (STVC) offers a series of events that celebrate the University’s Augustinian mission and heritage. This year’s Celebration begins Thursday, September 26 with the St. Thomas of Villanova Lecture delivered by Chris Mburu, international human rights lawyer, United Nations advisor, and founder of the Hilde Back Education Fund in his home country of Kenya. His lecture, entitled “A Small Act: How One Small Deed Can Make a World of Difference,” aligns perfectly with the Villanova community’s commitment to service and igniting change.

The eighth annual St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service is set for Saturday, September 28. Once again, thousands of Villanova students, faculty, staff, alumni and families will travel to more than 150 sites locally and throughout Greater Philadelphia to do the work the community has asked us to do. It is inspiring to see the Pavilion filled in the morning with volunteers ready to serve and to see them return later exhausted, but exhilarated, by a hard day’s work. This one day—marked by powerful service and fellowship experiences—is just the first step in a year filled with opportunities to put our Augustinian ideals into action.

Individually, each STVC event highlights an important aspect of our Augustinian, Catholic and educational identity. Together, the events represent the fellowship, compassion and commitment that distinguish the Villanova community. I am pleased that so many Villanovans have embraced the opportunity to participate year after year, and I know 2013 will be no different. For more information about all of the STVC events and to register for the Day of Service, please visit www.villanova.edu/stvc.

Changes to the Commencement Schedule

The academic year is just beginning but plans are already well underway for Commencement 2014. Commencement Weekend marks the biggest event and busiest weekend on campus, and we continually look for ways to ensure that it is a positive experience for graduates and guests. Over the years, the number of Commencement-related events has grown to span three full days. It is an important milestone that should be shared with friends and loved ones, but this schedule has made it difficult—and expensive—for many families from across the country and around the world to participate in each activity. Feedback we have received in recent years reflects a desire for a more compact Commencement schedule that would retain the key elements that make this weekend so special.

After a great deal of consideration by the President’s Cabinet and Deans, the Commencement schedule has been changed for 2014. These changes are outlined in a message sent earlier this summer to members of the Class of 2014 and their families, and are reflected on the Commencement website. Our hope is that these changes will lead to a more inclusive and enjoyable celebration for everyone.

Before I conclude this message, I would like to recognize the students who are delivering this year’s New Student Orientation. Under the direction of Ashley Traczuk ’14 CON, this nationally recognized program provides new students with a fun and informative introduction to life at Villanova. This Orientation staff—more than 100 students strong—are working tirelessly to ensure positive transition for the freshman class. Please join me in thanking them for their efforts to provide such a great welcome to Villanova University for the Class of 2017.

Our students come to campus each fall full of excitement and expectation. I hope you will find their enthusiasm to be infectious and use it to inspire a great year. As always, thank you for your continued commitment to Villanova University.



Fr. Peter Donohue, O.S.A.