A Message from the President - February 2011

Dear Faculty and Staff:

The midpoint of the semester is nearly upon us. As our community prepares for Spring Break, I wanted to share with you the following information and updates.

Town Hall Meetings on the Strategic Plan and Transformation of the Campus Landscape
I have been traveling around the country recently to share the Strategic Plan with our alumni, parents, and friends. These presentations have been very well attended and have sparked some great conversations about “What’s Next” at Villanova. I would like to share this presentation with you at two upcoming Town Hall Meetings scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium (Room 132) and Thursday, March 17 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Connelly Center Cinema.

I also would like to use these meetings to share with you plans for Phase 1 of the Transformation of the Campus Landscape, a bold, three-year project that is part of the implementation of both the University Strategic Plan and Campus Master Plan. This initiative, which begins in May, is a direct result of extensive research, student feedback, and Villanova’s need to maintain a physical environment that compares favorably to its peer institutions.

The primary goal of the project is to create a campus core that is vehicle-free, more pedestrian-friendly, more accessible to people with different mobility needs, and more aesthetically beautiful. Although these changes may initially cause some inconvenience, our community shares a commitment to providing our students with an educational experience of the highest quality. By listening—and actively responding—to feedback from our students, we are prioritizing the interconnectedness, safety, quality, accessibility, and beauty of the campus that our students call home.

Please visit the Office of the President webpage and tab on the myNOVA portal for more information about both the Strategic Plan and Campus Master Plan. These sites will be updated soon with additional information about the Transformation of the Campus Landscape initiative. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you at one of these meetings.

2010 Report on Community Engagement, Service, and Service Learning
Students, faculty, staff, and alumni continue to find ways to weave service and social justice into the fabric of the Villanova experience, whether on campus or beyond. While we talk all the time about this being a distinguishing characteristic of our University, it is only recently that we set out to accurately quantify how much time we devote to service and service learning.

Last summer, the Office of Planning and Institutional Research (OPIR) conducted a campus-wide survey of these activities. The response was tremendous and the data was very telling: our community engaged in more than 220,000 hours of service and service learning activities last year. The number itself is amazing, but more important is how clearly this survey demonstrates our community-wide commitment to putting our Augustinian values into action. This is a critical part of the story we are telling about Villanova’s role in the Greater Philadelphia Region and beyond.

I encourage you to review the report which is located on the Office of the President tab on the myNOVA portal. Every effort was made to capture the full scope of service initiatives at the University. Should you have service or service learning activities that are not reflected within the report, please contact Joan O’Brien in OPIR at x9-4558 or joan.obrien@villanova.edu. She will be sure that your information is reflected in the next version.

University Wellness Program
Beginning next month, Villanova hopes to forge a partnership with you for healthy living through a new Wellness Program. We can take steps as a community to improve the quality of our lives and reduce risks for serious medical conditions. At the same time, a healthier workforce benefits both employees and the University through lower healthcare costs and increased morale and productivity.

Faculty and staff will be provided with an opportunity this spring to take a Personal Health Profile (PHP), which will help to identify individual health risks and opportunities to make positive changes. In addition, Villanova will be promoting fitness and nutrition through a series of initiatives including a Wellness Fair on Tuesday, April 19; participating in the Independence Blue Cross National Walk at Lunch Day on Wednesday, April 27; and tailoring walking programs and educational seminars to meet employee needs.

Please visit the Healthy Living section of the Human Resources website for more information on these and other aspects of the University Wellness Program. I encourage you to join me in this initiative as we work together to create a culture of health and wellness on campus.

Key Items from the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget
Recent world events have served as a reminder that the economy still contains some measure of uncertainty. This is true for our nation, our students and families, and our University. I appreciate your ongoing commitment to minimizing costs and maximizing resources throughout campus. However, it is undeniable that costs for key components of our academic enterprise – including utilities, food products, and employee benefits – continue to rise. These were among the factors considered by the University’s Board of Trustees which approved the Fiscal Year 2012 budget at its meeting on February 8. The budget includes the following key components:

  • A 3% increase in tuition, fees, room, and board for the 2011–2012 academic year. Any rise in costs is significant, yet the funds generated by this increase will help ensure that we continue to provide a exceptional education for our students.
  • A 7% increase in institution-funded undergraduate financial assistance, continuing our commitment to students and their families. Villanova now provides nearly $74 million in undergraduate financial assistance, an increase of approximately $12 million over the past two years. I encourage you to read more about the increases to tuition and financial assistance in a letter recently sent to parents of students.
  • Following a recommendation from the Administrative Budget Committee and President's Cabinet, the budget also has established a salary pool for merit based raises at 3%.

Leading publications such as U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and Kiplinger's Personal Finance recently have recognized the value of a Villanova education. Even in challenging financial times, and in the face of rising costs associated with maintaining a living and learning environment, we can clearly make the case that a Villanova education is worth the investment. That is due in large part to the continued commitment of you, the faculty and staff. Thank you for your dedication to our students and to being good stewards of the University's resources.

Whether you will be enjoying Spring Break from your office on campus or somewhere else, I hope that the week provides you with the opportunity to catch your breath or at least to catch up on some work. As always, thank you for all that you do on behalf of Villanova University.


Fr. Peter Donohue, O.S.A.