Identifying and Sharing the "Villanova Story" - January 2010

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Last year we retained one of the nation’s premier strategic consultants, McKinsey & Company, to assist in our Strategic Planning process. As you may have heard me discuss at one of the recent Strategic Plan Town Hall meetings, one of the primary objectives of that process was to help us to chart a course to elevate Villanova to its rightful place on the national stage – while still remaining true to the essence of who and what we are.

One of McKinsey’s central recommendations was that Villanova undertake a purposeful effort to hone in on the “Villanova story” – a compelling and effective narrative and visual distillation of what we truly are – that will better enable us to project ourselves as one of the destinations of choice in U.S. higher education. We are embarking upon that important work now and we expect that this process will unfold over the next 12 months.

Let me first share with you what this important work is not: This is not about coming up with a clever tagline.

Rather, it’s about a rigorous research process to help us to ascertain what elements of the true Villanova will be most compelling and effective for all our key target audiences. We cannot and will not be something we aren't. Nor can we be everything to everyone.  Rather, we need to make purposeful, research-based judgments about what elements of our existing identity to emphasize – and then reinforce those elements with singular focus with all of our communications.

This process also is not about erasing the good work of our various schools which have worked hard to craft positions that are effective with their unique target audiences. We value that good work. But it is equally true that these positions will be most effective when they, too, reflect and consistently reinforce the overarching essence of Villanova. We are confident these shared goals can be achieved in harmony.

Our work in this area also is not about one central office unilaterally proclaiming a positioning for Villanova.  In fact, we selected an agency partner for this process, Neiman Group, in large part because of their commitment to collaboration. Throughout the process, there will be a variety of touch points with the Villanova community. Surveys will be circulated, and Town Hall meetings and smaller presentations will be held. There also will be committees put together to represent voices from all areas of our campus. This positioning won’t be proclaimed – rather, it will be discerned, in part through conversations with you. 

Therefore, I am requesting your participation. Your thoughtful input and ideas will play an important role in the ultimate success of this effort.  Ann Diebold, vice president for University Communication, will be sharing more details with you in the next couple of weeks, including specific ways you can participate in helping to identify and share the "Villanova Story."

Thank you in advance for your assistance and I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.


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Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., President