Provost Newsletter - March 2017

A Message from the Provost banner

March 2017

Dear Colleagues:

Together, as members of the Villanova community, we share credit for the validation we received last year when U.S. News and World Report placed Villanova among the country's Top National Universities.

Central to our success and impact are the countless efforts and achievements of Villanovans on campus and across the globe. Every day I am reminded how fortunate I am to work alongside fantastic faculty, staff, students, and alumni who accomplish so much within and beyond our University.  

In what follows, we highlight but a few examples of these achievements across the Villanova academic enterprise. Please join me in celebrating this sampling of the many wonderful things happening at our University and, as always, thank you for everything you do to make Villanova the special place that it is.  


Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD



  • In October, the Center for Irish Studies celebrated its official launch with a special “Villanova Night” at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. The Center held its inaugural conference, titled “Who’s/Whose Irish? Philadelphia Stories from Penn to the Present,” which featured four panels presenting new research on Philadelphia Irish history and culture.

  • The College welcomed the inaugural class of its new doctoral program in Theology.

  • A second new CLAS graduate program, the Master of Science in Environmental Science started this fall.

  • The College was selected to receive its first Beckman Scholars Program Award—one of 11 conferred nationally for 2017.

  • The College introduced its innovative new professional development program called Career Compass—a three year, co-curricular required program delivered through a variety of modes that focuses on four important areas of professional and personal growth.

  • The College collaborated with the Career Development Center and with Alumni Affairs to develop an alumnus mentoring program for all students.

  • Seven students along with their faculty advisors traveled to Hawaii to take part in RobotX, a selective international competition on autonomous surface vehicles. The team placed 6th out of 25 international teams.

  • Aqua America, Inc. (Aqua) has entered into a partnership with COE to provide mentorship opportunities, hands-on water quality expertise and foundation support for the college’s international service work.

  • Dr. Jacob Elmer received grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for work associated with gene therapy to treat leukemia and for work to develop invertebrate hemoglobin to be a safe and effective blood substitute.

  • VSB welcomed Joyce E. A. Russell, PhD, as the new Helen and William O’Toole Dean. Prior to joining VSB, Dr. Russell served as both Senior Associate Dean and Vice Dean at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. 

  • VSB partnered with KPMG to launch a first-of-its-kind master’s program in accounting and analytics. 

  • VSB welcomed Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert to campus for classroom visits and a fireside chat addressing leadership.

  • The Center for Church Management & Business Ethics received a grant from the Lilly Endowment to do work on financial literacy for members of the clergy. 

  • VSB developed a series of Inspiring Minds Podcasts, which features students interviewing faculty about their research.

  • During the fall semester the College, in collaboration with members of its College’s Board of Consultors, launched its Career Development Project (LEAD), which is designed to complement the academic curriculum of the traditional (four-year) BSN program.

  • The College has embarked on a comprehensive review of its curricula and its standing committees and student organizations to identify what and where diversity-related material or activities are present and where they need strengthening.

  • The College received the annual Innovation Award of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for its integration of health promotion strategies for people with disabilities into the curriculum.

  • Dr. and Mrs. J. Brien Murphy, through the Bryn Mawr Hospital/Main Line Health Foundation, endowed an annual lectureship for nurses named for Dean Fitzpatrick.

  • Established an affiliation agreement with the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Graduates in good standing, who are seeking a career in nursing from the University of the Sciences, will enroll in the accelerated BSN program for college graduates.

  • Villanova welcomed Mark C. Alexander, J.D. as the Arthur J. Kania Dean of the Charles Widger School of Law. Dean Alexander previously served as the Associate Dean for Academics and Professor at Seton Hall Unviersity's School of Law.
  • Charles Widger School of Law hosted a number of interesting symposia, including the Matthew J. Ryan Law and Public Policy Forum, Understanding the Opioid Epidemic, which explored the medical, legal, policy and sociological dimensions of this issue.  
  • The David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance hosted a special event featuring Jon M. Huntsman Jr.—former governor of Utah, former U.S. Ambassador to China and Singapore, and 2012 Presidential candidate—titled Ethics, Integrity and Civility (or the lack thereof) in Politics.

  • The 2016 Villanova Law Review Norman J. Shachoy Symposium brought together a diverse collection of leading voices to discuss the relationship between police officials and the communities they serve. 

  • Professor Kathryn Tanner delivered the keynote speech, Is the Present Day Spirit of Capitalism a Problem? Christian Reflections on the Economy, Finance, Culture, and Regulation, for the 2016 John F. Scarpa Conference on Law, Politics, and Culture.

  • The College of Professional Studies is developing 15 new non-credit courses to be offered both on-campus and online beginning in fall 2017. 

  • New credit options in the fields of automation and applied information technology are being piloted during spring 2017.

  • The college is exploring new modalities for greater class attendance flexibility for its busy working adult students. 


Enrollment Management

  • The Office of Enrollment Management welcomed Dean J. Leon Washington in September. Prior to joining Villanova, Dean Washington served as the Vice Provost for Admissions and Financial Aid at Lehigh University.

  • From June through the end of December 2016, the Office of University Admission (OUA) welcomed 28,235 visitors to campus.

  • Handled a new Villanova record 21,095 applications (up some 22% from last year previous all-time high).

  • Admission hosted approximately 3,200 guests (including admitted students and their families) for Early Action Candidates’ Weekend.

  • Received 129 Transfer applications for the spring 2017 term and welcomed 34 Transfer students to the Villanova community.

  • Successfully implemented SLATE, a new CRM tool, to manage the recruit, applicant, event and communication efforts related to attracting and enrolling students to Villanova.
  • The Financial Assistance offices in Kennedy Hall (picture) were completely renovated.  The new space accommodates the staff’s needs and provides security measures to safeguard student and parent data.

  • Successfully transferred the Student Employment functions from the OFA to Human Resources. While OFA will continue to manage Federal Work Study, the Human Resources Office will oversee the hiring, separation, wage and other employment issues. 

  • OFA has been preparing for the financial aid process to begin on October 1 instead of January 1. This will allow students and their families to begin the application process three months earlier. As a result of the Early FAFSA, this is the first time that financial aid awards to BSN Express students were sent out in December, 2016 (Prior to this their notices were sent out in April).

  • Working with the Director of Villanova's Graterford Program, Villanova received official recognition to participate in the U.S. Department of Education Experimental Site Initiative offering Federal Pell Grants for students who are incarcerated.

  • The Office of the Registrar continued outreach efforts with academic colleagues by holding meetings for new department chairpersons and participating in new faculty orientations.
  • The Registrar’s Office is participating in the implementation of Second Chance Pell Pilot Program for Graterford students.
  • In collaboration with UNIT, the Registrar’s Office expects to implement “Nova Schedule Builder” for students later this semester. Nova Schedule Builder is a web-based application to help students build potential class schedule options prior to and during registration periods.


Career Center  

  • Brought more than 225 employers to campus to recruit Villanovans for full-time jobs and internships in a variety of industries: Healthcare, technology, media, financial services and more.

  • The Fall Career Fair was attended in record-setting numbers this year, with 181 employers and 2,034 Villanova students and alumni in attendance.

  • Coordinated more than 1,600 interviews for employers and Villanova students ranging from sophomore students to Master’s candidates on their way to internships and full-time jobs.

  • The career counseling and education team connected with Villanovans to discuss topics such as graduate school applications, industry-specific job search plans and practice interviews. In total, students and alumni visited the office 2,461 times for our counseling appointments, walk-in advising and career development workshops.


Diversity and Inclusion 

  • The Office of Diversity and Inclusion moved into its new home in the Charles Widger Law School.

  • Partnered with the Black Law Students Association to design and deliver an interactive workshop for faculty, staff and students called the Privilege Walk. 

  • Held a workshop on Inclusive Hiring with the College of Engineering and  presented to Advancement on the state of diversity and inclusion at the University. 

  • Led brown bag luncheon conversations with VITAL on the topic: Traversing Diversity in the Classroom in November and a New Faculty session on Inclusive Learning Environments for Diversity in January. 

  • Welcomed about sixty students to eight different sections of IGR lead by thirteen faculty/staff facilitators.

  • Worked with Student Life to coordinate the Campus Conversation gathering of close to 800 Villanovans following the recent presidential election.

  • Co-sponsored a highly successful alumni event for underrepresented alums in general and African-American alums in particular. 

  • ODI has been working with Jennifer Derry from Human Resources to create a Hiring for Inclusion workshop for both staff and faculty.

  • Hosted two gatherings of underrepresented faculty and another for faculty interested in research related to diversity and inclusion.


Falvey Memorial Library 

  • Falvey Memorial Library opened the Dugan Polk Family Reading Room, a newly renovated 24-hour quiet study space, on October 17.

  • Falvey Library released version 3.1 of VuFind and hosted the 5th annual VuFind Summit. VuFind is open source software developed at Villanova that allows users to search and browse library collections. It is used by more than 100 libraries around the world including the National Library of Ireland, the National Library of Finland, and University of Chicago Library.

  • The Library launched the first issue of its new newsletter, Mosaic.

  • In partnership with the Provost’s office, Facilities, and the architects Schwartz/Silver, Falvey Memorial Library will begin developing a master plan to redesign the library to meet the needs of a national research university community.


Honors Program 

  • Last fall, the Honors Program inaugurated two new learning cohorts: Medical Humanities and Society and Human Behavior. 

  • In October, Honors welcomed its first Anne Quinn Welsh Visiting Scholar, Dr. David O’Connor from the University of Notre Dame. The visiting scholar program invites distinguished faculty from around the nation to campus to teach our Honors students, engage in a faculty development workshop, and give a public lecture. Dr. O’Connor’s area of expertise is the philosophy of love, and his lecture was entitled, “Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love.” 

  • Honors ran a special course on the Presidential Election, taught by Henry Olsen, a nationally prominent columnist and pollster. 


Office of Planning and Institutional Research

  • Administered the first-ever Diversity and Inclusion survey to all Villanova Students.
  • Coordinated pilot of the online CATS system in the fall incorporating 400 course sections taught by 300 unique faculty members with invitations extended to 4,900 students to complete 8,200 CATS forms oline. The overall response rate for the pilot was 82%.
  • In November, the University's accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) was extended for five years following the submission of Villanova's Periodic Review Report (PRR).
  • Welcomed Dr. Trina Das, as the new Director of Policy and Planning Analysis.



  • More than 100 events and programs were held in the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship Institute (ICE)’s Idea Accelerator in Falvey Memorial Library.

  • ICE unveiled a new program called "Fridays in the Idea Accelerator" aimed at providing a consistent day of the week where our community could gather to hear from innovators and entrepreneurs alike.

  • Construction began on the creation of a patio for the Idea Accelerator, which will open this spring and provide additional public space for the University.

  • The Women in Tech Initiative, headed by Sue Metzger, grew to include multiple "Cookies, Cupcakes, and Coding" events, as well as opportunities for students to teach tech skills to middle school girls through a partnership with TechGirlz.

  • The 5th Villanova in the Valley program was capped off with a moderated Q&A session with Villanova Board Member Carolyn Everson (VP, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook, CLAS '93) and ICE Executive Director II Luscri at Facebook, attended by more than 150 Villanovans. 

  • The Search Committee has been hard at work identifying and preparing to interview candidates for the position of Director of the McNulty Institute for Women’s leadership. 

  • Work is progressing on plans for a grand celebration highlighting the launch of the Institute. The event, planned for October 2017, will feature a keynote lecture and other supporting activities.



  • Since joining the Office of the Provost in August, Dr. Amanda Grannas, Associate Vice Provost for Research, has met with nearly 20 departments and research centers, and a number of administrative units, as part of her listening tour.

  • A Faculty Scholar Advisory Team—with representation across colleges and ranks—was formed to serve as a liaison between faculty and the Office of the Provost.

  • The University Travel Grant Program was successfully piloted in the fall semester, and all faculty members who applied were awarded support.

  • A research section of the Provost Office webpage has been designed and populated with information about internal and external funding opportunities, research news and highlights, a calendar of events, and other relevant information for our faculty and student researchers.

  • A series of events were organized in the fall including monthly Research Brown Bag Lunches, a diversity research forum and an ORA Open House.

  • Work continues to secure additional support for faculty research. A few examples include submission of an application to become an Oak Ridge Associated University, the addition of Writing Center staff to support faculty projects, and a day-long site visit from the Acting Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
  • The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) began the academic year with a new Director, Dr. Michael T. Westrate, who came to Villanova after directing the Office of Grants and Fellowships at the University of Notre Dame.

  • In September, CURF received a grant from the National Science Foundation. Supported by the grant, CURF’s leadership team delivered an intensive, four-day workshop at the nation’s largest conference for underrepresented minority students and faculty.

  • Three students assisted by CURF won the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study or intern abroad during the spring semester.

  • CURF’s Fulbright application process yielded 25 semifinalists this year to the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

  • Two Villanova students were interviewed as Finalists for the prestigious Marshall Scholarship.

  • 15 students were awarded CURF Research & Travel Grants during the fall semester, and presented their original research at national and international conferences.

  • The annual Undergraduate Research Fall Poster Session took place in September, and students from all undergraduate colleges presented a record 78 posters.

  • The Office of Research Administration welcomed a new Grants Specialist to support investigators in pre- and post-award grant activity. 

  • With the Controller’s Office, ORA implemented a new Costing Guidelines policy and several related procedures to increase clarity and transparency for researchers. 

  • Implemented a new web-based system for disclosing and managing potential financial conflicts of interest. 


Teaching and Learning 

  • Since joining the Office of the Provost in August, Dr. Randy Weinstein, Associate Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning has spoken with constituents around campus about the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities to teaching and learning at Villanova. A draft strategic vision with action items was developed as a result. The vision was sent to the community for comments, which are still being accepted online.

  • Three major education initiatives are underway with the leadership of faculty in the areas of cybersecurity, real estate, and training non-JDs in immigration law which will cross college boundaries and develop new and innovative ways of instructing our students. 

  • A complete analysis, including benchmarking against our peer institutions, of student academic support focused on tutoring was performed and seven key recommendations were made. Plans to implement these recommendations are underway.

  • The Center for Access, Success and Achievement (CASA) continues to offer academic support services for our diverse student community.

  • Ms. Linda Coleman was appointed Director of CASA. Ms. Coleman previously held the position of Associate Director, Center for Mulitcultural Affairs.
  • Participated in numerous campus events during the first semester, including the very successful parent’s session, “Opportunities Beyond the Classroom” during Orientation and the Villanova Women’s Professional Network panel discussion.
  • Piloted an online tutoring system to assess efficiency and effectiveness of tutor management for CASA students, and ultimately for consideration by other Teaching and Learning departments.

  • Received grants from Exelon for the VIEW program, a donation of Rainy Day endowed funding for Noble Network students and, a one-time gift for the CASA general Rainy Day fund. 

  • Learning Support Services (LSS) saw increases in all areas of support with the one-on-one academic coaching having more than 1,100 student sessions in the fall—a 17% increase from the previous fall. 

  • Chemistry and Physics Homework Help continued on South Campus two nights per week with a 12% increase in Chemistry visits.

  • As in the past, the study groups in Anatomy & Physiology and General Biology filled to capacity within minutes of opening.

  • LSS’ exam proctoring program for faculty took a significant jump of 36% with proctoring 463 exams.

  • This fall, the Math Learning and Resource Center (MLRC) had 2,465 visits—the second highest number of visits ever received in a semester.

  • New study sessions were offered once a week in Linear Algebra and Modern Algebra—two courses that had not previously provided official tutoring.

  • The MLRC received an average student survey rating of 3.8 out of 4 for “Satisfaction with visit” and 3.84 for “Service provided by your tutor.”

  • Our student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom, and their commitment to their academic studies has put Villanova among the most elite schools nationwide for the combination of athletic and academic performance. 

  • The overall grade-point average for student-athletes was 3.224 during the fall semester, marking the 27th straight term with a GPA higher than a 3.0.  

  • There were a total of 428 student-athletes who had a GPA greater than a 3.0 for the fall semester, representing more than 71 percent of the total of 601 student-athletes from 24 varsity sports.  

  • 12 student-athletes achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA for the semester.

  • Sophomore distance runner Bella Burda of the women’s cross country and track & field teams earned the prestigious NCAA Elite 90 academic award at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.  

  • During the summer term, fall semester and winter break, the Office of Education Abroad (OEA) supported 614 study abroad experiences for Villanova students. 

  • Students studied in 35 different countries, including Brazil, China, Peru, Samoa and South Africa and visited more than 85 different cities all over the globe. 

  • This summer, Villanova had 322 students abroad and in the fall semester, we had 189 students.

  • 103 students participated in short-term MBA international programs or course-embedded programs over the breaks.

  • OEA is supported by 20 Global Key Ambassadors—students who have studied abroad and volunteer their time to promote study abroad opportunities. 

  • OEA welcomed two new staff members to the team—Michelle Barton came to Villanova from Temple University, and is responsible for coordinating the Villanova semester programs and Carolyn Gibson joined us from Juniata College and coordinates the summer and short term programs. 

  • Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning (VITAL) implemented the following programs in response to faculty interests and needs.  

    • Academic Service Unit Videos: A Faculty Resource: A collection of short videos that highlight the expertise, support, services and resources that various academic service units provide to ensure the success and well-being of our students. The videos outline how faculty may utilize these services and partner with these units in support of students’ needs.  Link to videos (VU login and password required).

    • Online, 24/7 Instructional Programming: Monday Morning Mentor: A weekly, online teaching program (available 24/7) that focuses on relevant teaching issues. A different topic is explored each week. Faculty have the opportunity to explore common teaching questions and learn new practices. They can access the program in their office, on their mobile device, at home. The online program is co-sponsored with Falvey Library.

  • The Villanova University Writing Center had an exceptional fall semester, providing 3,203 tutorials to faculty, staff, and students. Weekly 30-minute workshops were well-attended by ACS students.
  • In mid-January, eleven faculty across eight departments joined the Villanova University Writing Center for its first two-day, intensive writing retreat. Over twelve hours, faculty engaged in pre-writing, drafting, and revising to progress in projects varying from book proposals to book chapters, articles, and even co-authored manuscripts.
  • Director Mary Beth Simmons and Professional Tutor Liz Mathews both presented papers at the International Writing Centers Association conference held in Denver, Colorado.

Office of the Provost

Tolentine Hall, Room 103
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Phone: 610.519.4525
Fax: 610.519.6200

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