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March 16 Message of Gratitude from the President

email header for the President with Villanova seal

March 16, 2020

Dear Members of the Villanova Community,

This morning, I walked across a very quiet campus and the silence was unsettling. Normally at this time of year, I am inundated by members of our community—students, faculty and staff—stopping to say hello or report about spring break activities or upcoming events. Today, my life was absent those welcome interruptions.

This is the time of year, when the weather is starting to change, that the campus is bustling with activity. But today, no students were congregated around the Oreo, no groups were fundraising for their chosen charity, and no one was running to make it to class on time. As I walked through an empty campus that prides itself on community—what do we do when we cannot be with our community?

Over the last several days, I have heard from numerous Villanovans sharing stories of frustration, sadness and fear, and received numerous emails and texts of thanks for doing what is deemed best for the community. I have also received countless questions: What are we are going to do about Commencement? When or will we come back this semester? What will happen with summer programs? When will things return to normal? There are many questions that remain.

To be honest, I don’t have all the answers right now. As we have experienced, this is a constantly changing situation and there are many questions about what lies ahead. I promise you that we will make decisions in the best interest of the community and continue to keep you informed. I do know one thing—that when things are good, this community is really good. And when things are bad, there is no place better. I am confident that, standing together, we will meet the challenges before us. 

As we move through these uncertain days, I want to express my gratitude to all of you:

  • To the Villanova administrators, staff and health care professionals who have been working around the clock to monitor this health crisis and develop plans: Thank you for your wise guidance and for doing everything necessary to safeguard our community members.
  • To the faculty: Thank you for the concern and flexibility you have demonstrated to meet and honor our educational mission. You have wisdom to share and you will find new ways to inspire and challenge our students. I could not ask for a better group of dedicated educators ready to meet this challenge.
  • To our staff: You are the backbone of Villanova—the people Villanova depends on, day in and day out. Thank you for going above and beyond to meet the needs of our students. 
  • To our students and your families: You have faced a difficult situation with maturity, grace and compassion. I know many of you have given your time, energy and talent to group learning experiences, research endeavors, service and fundraising events, performances, athletics and many other activities. I know you are disappointed to have them canceled. I wish I could have prevented this for you. 
  • To our seniors and graduates: I promise that we will find a way to recognize your hard work and celebrate your accomplishments. You will not leave Villanova without fanfare—whatever that may be.

In all of your words and actions over the last few days, I have seen a selflessness in the deeds of others. I have seen our Augustinian values in action—putting the needs of the community over the wants of the individual. In times such as these, I am proud to be a Villanovan.  

During this Lenten Season, we are called into the desert to reflect on our relationship with God and one another. This is our desert, and together we will travel through this time to experience the resurrection. Let us be thankful we are on this journey together. Let us lift each other up to God in prayer that we and our families will be safe. We will figure it out together. And together, we will be stronger for it as we move forward to become what we are not yet.

With love and concern for all of you,

Signature of the President, shortened

Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA