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President's Report 2017-2018

11 people featured in the President's Report are seated and smiling in front of a white brick wall background

A Message from Father Peter


Dear Friends,

As a first-generation college student, I experienced the impact of a Villanova education firsthand. When I began my undergraduate studies in 1970, I was embarking upon a journey that would transform my life. At Villanova, I found a community that challenged, inspired and supported me while I realized my passion as a teacher, a scholar and an Augustinian friar.

My story of inquiry, discovery and transformation does not stand alone—thousands more like it can be found among the experiences of our students and alumni. Each of these stories illustrates what makes Villanova distinctive.

Guided by the words of St. Augustine: “Become what you are not yet,” this President’s Report highlights just a few of those personal journeys. In these pages, I invite you to view Villanova through the eyes of 11 students who demonstrate the excellence of our academic programming at all levels—undergraduate, adult and online learning, graduate, doctoral and law.


“Our students embody what is best about Villanova, and this year we are proud to celebrate them for who they are—intelligent, accomplished individuals on a journey of academic discovery and growth.”
                                                       —The Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75, President

Student Stories

Carissa Anthony stands smiling with arms crossed

Carissa Anthony

Villanova School of Business MBA candidate

Why this MBA candidate left the corporate ladder behind for a new beginning in academia

Elizabeth Cullen smiling and seated sideways with feet to the left

Elizabeth Cullen

Senior Chemical Engineering major

The Engineering program that fuses this senior’s love for academics and service

Waqar Rehman stands smiling with arms crossed

Waqar Rehman

Third-year student, Charles Widger School of Law

The guiding principle that propels each step of this Law student’s Villanova journey

Kerlyn Rodriguez stands smiling with hand on her hip

Kerlyn Rodriguez

2018 M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing graduate

The support system that made this first-generation college graduate feel at home at Villanova and abroad

Tim Sweeney stands smiling with arms crossed

Tim Sweeney

2018 College of Professional Studies graduate

The personal connection that inspired this recent graduate to re-enroll after 10 years

Sister Dung Trang smiling with arms crossed

Sister Dung Trang

PhD in Theology student

How the Augustinian approach transformed this PhD student’s experience of learning

Connor Williams stands smiling with hands in pockets

Connor Williams

Senior Physics major

How community accelerates academic growth for this Physics major

Terry Williams stands smiling and holding his glasses

Terry Williams

MS in Sustainable Engineering student

This online learner’s immersive experience has been anything but remote

Andrew Wykowski stands smiling with arms crossed

Andrew Wykowski

Junior Management Information Systems major

Why this standout leader on campus isn’t afraid to embrace disability as part of his identity

In Their Own Words

Two students reflect on their unique journeys through Villanova

Madiah gant, stands smiling with arms crossed

Madiah Gant

Senior Global Interdisciplinary Studies major, specializing in Africana Studies

Chuck Smith stands smiling with arms at his sides

Chuck Smith

Senior Biology major, Pre-Med program


Villanova had a remarkable year. Faculty continued to innovate as leaders in their fields while engaging their students as true teacher-scholars. For the Greater Great: The Campaign to Ignite Change came to an impressive conclusion, far surpassing its original goal and raising $760 million. And Wildcat student-athletes maintained excellent academic records while also excelling in competition, most notably with the University’s third NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship. The following is just a sampling of the people and moments that helped to make this year at Villanova a great one.

Leadership at the National Level

Rev Peter Donohue standing against a white, brick wall background

University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, ’75 added to his impressive record a new role on the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education (ACE), the nation’s leading association for colleges and universities. More...

New Deans Shape Colleges’ Future

Villanova University shield logo with blue lettering

Deans play a vital role in the University’s academic life, providing strategic vision and shaping programs that prepare students to ignite change around the world. Two new deans were recently added to Villanova’s academic leadership team. More...

A World, Changing

Researchers at the North Pole digging in the snow

Chemistry Professor Amanda Grannas, PhD, has braved polar bears and traveled to the ends of the earth to study climate change’s impact. Recently, as a leader of a National Science Foundation-supported study, Dr. Grannas significantly advanced her research into the connections between the ocean and the atmosphere. More...

Step Up to the (Virtual) Plate

Baseball player wears VR goggles  in virtual reality CAVE and stands with bat in ready stance

It’s one of the most difficult challenges in sports—hitting a pitched baseball. But with the help of a new technology developed by Mark Jupina, PhD, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, baseball players now can improve their skills by taking virtual batting practice. More...

The Art of the Audit

Headshot of Denise Hanes Downey, PhD, ’05, ’08 MA, the Kevin Tedeschi ’71 Assistant Professor in the Villanova School of Business.

Global group audits are vital to protect investors around the world. In order to inform standards for these complicated audits, Denise Hanes Downey, PhD, ’05, ’08 MA, the Kevin Tedeschi ’71 Assistant Professor in the Villanova School of Business, embarked on a yearlong research fellowship at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. More...

Technology’s Human Impact

Robotic image in black and white from the cover of the book entitled "Re-Engineering Humanity" by Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger

Computers and smartphones, which used to help people manage their lives, now increasingly run them. Devices prompt; users automatically comply. This reprogramming of humanity is happening around the world on every digital platform and has radically changed how people interact. More...

Notable Villanova Moments

Students walking on a campus path with Alumni Hall in the distance

From celebrating the largest single-year number of Fulbright awards in its history to convening preeminent Vatican experts around the globe, it’s been a banner year for Villanova. More...

Wildcats Are National Champions for Second Time in Three Years

Jay Wright and the Villanova Men's Basketball team hold the 2018 NCAA championship trophy

Men’s Basketball cut down the nets on its third NCAA national championship in 2018, leaving lasting memories for Nova Nation and an indelible mark on sports history. More...

Student-Athletes Score High Marks

Villanova runner carrying a baton leads a pack at the Penn Relays

Villanova’s nearly 600 student-athletes across 24 varsity programs continued to elevate their elite performance in the classroom and in their sports. More...