A Message from the President - August 2011

August 2011

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

The campus is buzzing with renewed activity as classes are set to begin next week. Actually, campus activities didn’t really stop over the summer with a significant number of projects taking place. Villanova also hosted approximately 13,500 visitors, who attended 120 conferences, programs and camps. As we prepare to welcome the Class of 2015 and begin the fall semester, I am pleased to share with you the following information and updates.

Summer Projects
Summers at Villanova are typically busy with various construction, renovation and relocation projects scheduled. But this was a particularly active summer and a great deal has been accomplished since classes ended in May. While I can’t list all that has taken place, here are some highlights:

  • Phase 1 of the Transformation of the Campus Landscape initiative was carried out. This included moving the Oreo (which proved to be much more difficult than initially thought), the construction of a new plaza between Connelly Center and Vasey Hall (expected to be completed in November), the creation of additional parking in front of Tolentine Hall, the installation of new bollards throughout campus, the reconfiguration of the entrance to campus by Fedigan Hall, and the implementation of a new traffic pattern throughout campus.
  • A new, larger Villanova University sign was installed at the intersection of Lancaster and Ithan Avenues.
  • Renovations to Sullivan and Sheehan Halls were completed with new air conditioning and individual temperature controls added to every room.
  • St. Mary’s Dining Hall was completely renovated, as were the bathrooms in Dougherty Hall.
  • Renovations to the second floor of Falvey Memorial Library were started and are targeted for completion in November. This work will create a new Learning Commons that co-locates research librarians with the Math, Writing and Learning resource centers.

I am particularly grateful to the Facilities staff for all that they did to manage these projects while also accommodating regular summer campus activity such as classes, Alumni Reunion Weekend and our many visitors. I am also thankful to the entire University community for its patience in dealing with the changes that are taking place. I know that working through these projects can be challenging at times, but I hope you agree that the end result—a campus transformed and better suited to meeting the needs of our community—will be worth it.

President’s Opening Address to the Villanova Community
Each December, the president of the University has typically addressed the University Senate to share an overview of the past year's achievements. This speech is usually well attended and has provided a great way to share highlights from throughout campus. However, I have been looking for an opportunity to shift the focus of speech to be more forward looking while also engaging more members of our community.

Therefore, I invite you to join me in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center next Friday, August 26 at 1:30 p.m., for the first of what I hope will become an Annual Opening Address to the Villanova community. The  new academic year provides us with a fresh beginning and a natural starting point for key initiatives. I would like to use this address—which will replace the annual address to the Senate—to set the University’s agenda for 2011-12 and outline some shared objectives for our community based upon the Strategic Plan. Refreshments will be provided. I look forward to seeing you there.

Middle States Accreditation Reaffirmed
I am pleased to report that earlier this summer we received official word from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that the University’s accreditation has been reaffirmed. This is the final step in a multi-year process that included thorough self-assessment and outside evaluation. I am appreciative of everyone who contributed to and supported the Middle States efforts, especially the three members of our community who served as tri-chairs: John Kelley, Ph.D., former executive director of the Office of Planning & Institutional Research; Steve Merritt, dean of Enrollment Management; and Sally Scholz, Ph.D., professor of Philosophy. Information about the process, including the Evaluation Team Report, can be found on the Office of the President tab on the myNOVA portal.

Touch of Diversity Performance
For more than a decade, Villanova’s New Student Orientation has included programming to introduce incoming freshmen to issues of difference, inclusion and what it means to be part of the University community. The programming—a performance entitled "Touch of Diversity"—is a short compilation of student experiences, both old and new, and is followed by a period of facilitated dialog. The dress rehearsals for this performance are open to faculty and staff and provide a great opportunity to see first-hand some of the innovative programming that takes place during New Student Orientation. Dress rehearsals are scheduled for Monday, August 22 at 12:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., in St. Mary’s Auditorium. The performance runs about 30 minutes and will be followed by time for reflections and refreshments. Please consider attending if your schedule allows.

Introducing Griffin Hall
Alumni House underwent a major renovation this spring and now serves as home to a number of areas within the Office of University Communication and Marketing. With the former tenants, the Office of Alumni Affairs, now located in Garey Hall, it was time to rename the building. After careful consideration, it now will be known as Griffin Hall in honor of the Rev. James H. Griffin, O.S.A., who served as the 22nd president of Villanova College from 1926-1932. Under his leadership, the College recognized the need to generate awareness and communicate effectively both with its growing alumni population and outside constituencies. Naming the building in Fr. Griffin's honor seemed a fitting way to connect its previous mission of alumni outreach with its new mission of building awareness for Villanova and its programs. 

2011 St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration
The 2011 St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration will take place Thursday, September 22 through Sunday, September 25, with events designed to be inclusive and reflective of the University’s Augustinian, Catholic mission.

Highlights include a lecture from 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, Ph.D., on Thursday, September 22; a Community Collection Day on Friday, September 23; and the traditional Community Liturgies at 6, 8 and 10 p.m. on Sunday, September 25 in the Church.

The centerpiece of the Celebration will once again be the Day of Service on Saturday, September 24. On this one day, Villanova students, faculty, staff, alumni and families head to sites throughout Greater Philadelphia to do the work the community has asked us to do. Last year, nearly 5,000 participated in this initiative which is an amazing representation of the commitment to service that distinguishes the Villanova community. I hope that a similar number will take part this year. But this one day really is not about numbers. Instead, it is about the work we do, the relationships we form and the partnerships we build by serving together. Please consider volunteering with your office, department, family or as an individual. Registration for the Day of Service is currently open online and closes September 14. More information about the St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration, including the Day of Service, can be found at www.villanova.edu/stvc. I encourage you to take part in as many aspects of the Celebration as you can.

The beginning of the semester marks the return of faces old and new to campus. Please join me in welcoming the new students and their families as they arrive this weekend, and our returning students as they prepare for the first day of classes next week.

As always, thank you for your ongoing commitment to Villanova University.


Fr. Peter Donohue, O.S.A.