Monumental news outlines school year

Editor’s Note: This past school year the University has had its fair share of news. Beginning with the memorable inauguration of the University’s 32nd president, Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., and ending with a week marked by more incidents of racial graffiti, the University generated action-filled and, at times, controversial news.

The editorial board has evaluated the top 10 news-making stories of the year. The criteria used to evaluate each story were the direct impact on students, relevance and gravity of each story.

1. Donohue inaugurated as new Univ. president

On Sept. 8, 2006, the University welcomed Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., as the 32nd president of Villanova. In his inaugural address, he highlighted certain changes that he wanted to effect, such as a heightened focus on increasing diversity on campus, refashioning Falvey Memorial Library and targeting residence halls as places that should not only foster new friendships and growth, but should also merge with the learning environment of the classroom.

Since his inauguration last September, Donohue has traveled all over the country to meet with various alumni and other organizations. “I’ve been traveling a lot,” Donohue said in a February interview. “I’d say that on average, I’m only in the office about two to three days a week.”

Despite the strenuous schedule, Donohue said he is not fatigued. Donohue also said that his receptions have been well-attended and that he intends to finish his alumni visits next fall, when he will travel to Ireland, England, Panama and Puerto Rico.

2. Shooting incident leaves many in the dark

In early December, shots were fired at a Radnor policeman between Browning Lane and Meadowwood Road, an area located directly behind South Campus. What ensued is something that left the campus with many questions. Many students who live on South Campus awoke to the sight of a S.W.A.T. team, police cars and helicopters, but no explanation. Students who lived on the other parts of campus had no knowledge of the situation unless they turned on the morning news.

Students were also not informed of the consequences of the situation until 8:30 a.m. that day. It was then that CBS3 and CW9 announced that the University’s class schedule would begin with 10:30 a.m. classes. Dean of Students Paul Pugh then sent an e-mail to students at approximately 11 a.m., notifying them that classes would actually start at 11:30 a.m.

Vice President for Student Life Rev. John Stack, O.S.A., said there were several reasons for the delay in releasing information. Still, Stack acknowledged that administration could have and acted more quickly.

“We could have sent out an e-mail at around 7 a.m. describing that there was police activity so we could at least give students the heads-up,” Stack said. “There was a clear mistake made in communication.”

3. Construction, proposals further University expansion

This year marked significant announced plans for construction and project proposals for the University. Over this past year, the University broke ground on construction for the new athletic facility, nursing school and law school. With expected completion dates in the next two years, students, faculty and administration are looking forward to not only being able to use the facilities, but also what it may mean for future students.

However, what made as much, if not more, news were the announcements of the proposals of two major projects, Project Mole and the Wildcat statue. Project Mole, if approved as is, would be a $40 million project to centralize Dining Services operations on Main Campus and would also create an underground student center. The buzz around the proposal was big among administrators in the fall, but major issues that arose were whether the University could fund such a project and what Dining Services would do with Dougherty Hall, Dining Services’ central Main Campus hub, during construction.

4. VSB ranks No. 12 in nation

In a remarkable leap, the Villanova School of Business moved up seven spots to No. 12 on BusinessWeek’s second annual ranking of undergraduate business schools. With such a jump, VSB was one of the few schools featured in BusinessWeek, with special attention paid to the quality of faculty members and the cutting-edge, state-of-the-art Applied Finance Lab.

“[The ranking] underscores what our faculty are doing in terms of their education of our students both in terms of their skills, their ability to connect with the business world, and also in an important way, it underscores what happens at Villanova in terms of our concern for community service activities,” VSB Dean James Danko said.

The average SAT score of entering freshmen rose from 1273 to 1282, and the median starting salary of VSB graduates has risen from $45,000 to $50,000. Furthermore, VSB received higher rankings in areas dealing with facilities and services, job placement and academic rigor.

5. Racial graffiti incidents strike residence halls

Over the course of the past year and a half, multiple incidents of racial graffiti have sprung up across residence halls on campus. But, the five incidents in the course of one week in late April in Good Counsel, Moriarty and Sullivan halls have caused administrators and students to take action.

After the incidents, Stack sent a letter in the form of an e-mail to students, saying that such acts would not be tolerated and that those found responsible would be dealt with accordingly.

“As a community, we have to stop just talking and actually do something about it,” said Charisma Presley, assistant director of Multicultural Affairs. “People are just tired of other people saying, ‘This is wrong,’ and nothing gets done because it just happens the next week.”

As of Tuesday, two residents of Moriarty Hall have voluntarily stepped forward and admitted that they were responsible for one of the incidents. They are currently undergoing the judicial process, and none of the other offenders have been found.

6. Dining Services’ change breeds e-mail chaos

What started out as one unauthorized mass e-mail from junior Krystle Shafer to students and faculty on the fall ’03, ’04 and ’05 Core Humanities distribution lists led to a night of online chaos that most will not soon forget.

Shafer said she wanted to inform students of Dining Services’ ongoing initiative to remove foods with partially hydrogenated oil and trans fats from all dining facilities, most noticeably in Second Storey and Donahue Market. She wanted to see if others were equally unhappy about the changes.

“I didn’t expect them to hit ‘reply-all’ at all,” Shafer said. “I was very clear that people should reply to me.”

But what ensued was nothing like people had expected. Stephen Fugale, chief information officer of UNIT, said that approximately 200 messages were sent to this mass distribution list but that this number did not take into account messages sent with subjects other than replies to the initial e-mail.

“The bigger issue is what I would call a lack of mutual respect for other people, and that concerns me,” Stack said.

7. Yayo rocks the Pavilion

Hoops Mania 2006 is one that is sure to be considered one of the best ever, but not because of the Blue vs. White Scrimmage, but because of two men: Tony Yayo and 50 Cent. These two members of G-Unit surprised those in attendance and delivered a short, but memorable performance.

“Tim [Thomas] and Coach Wright were the ones who worked on getting Tony Yayo,” said Brian Papson, director of marketing and special events. “But it was only supposed to be Tony Yayo. We had heard of the possibility of 50 Cent coming, but we definitely were not expecting it.”

Yayo found the experience memorable.

“It was crazy,” Yayo said. “The crowd screaming ‘Tony Yayo’ made me feel like I was back on the Anger Management tour with 50, Eminem and everyone from G-Unit. My adrenaline was runnin’ wild, and with everyone with their Vs up when I was performing, it was really exciting.”

8. Basketball lottery problems result in campout

On a frigid Friday night in mid-November, approximately 800 students camped out to receive one of two ticket packages, both of which included four Wachovia games and one Pavilion game. The campout came as a result of SGA President and Vice President John Von Euw and Dave Pedra being informed that the old, weighted lottery system could not work.

After things fell through between key officials involved in the lottery selection process and representatives from Christo Consulting, LLC, who created the original lottery, Von Euw and Pedra had to look at different options. SGA also increased the number of student tickets at the Wachovia Center from 2,500 to 2,800. With the new lottery, 2,000 seats were still available for the four Wachovia Center games, while 1,100 of the 1,500 tickets were available for the Notre Dame and St. Joe’s games.

“We felt the four Wachovia Center games were a good deal and that the St Joe’s and Notre Dame games were the biggest games in the Pavilion,” Von Euw said. “We feel this plan is a good compromise between the two options because it allows for the rabid fans to guarantee themselves tickets to certain games, but also allows those who aren’t to have a fair shot at going to games.”

9. Admissions accepts record-low percentage

For the second consecutive year, the University has seen a drastic drop in the admissions rate, this year going below the 40-percent mark at 39 percent. This year’s number of applications was up 6.4 percent from last year’s, setting a new record of 13,742 applications. The school hopes that its acceptances will render a class of 1,595 students, a number that was the target for the current freshman class as well.

“I think we’re seeing the cumulative effect of a lot of success in the last 10 or 15 years,” said Steve Merritt, dean of Enrollment Management. “We’re increasing in popularity every year because people come to Villanova, have a good experience and tell other people.”

10. Von Euw/Pedra win SGA reelection in stunning fashion

Claiming 62.4 percent of student votes in the SGA election, incumbents Von Euw and Pedra made school history by becoming the second presidential ticket to ever serve two terms. Von Euw and Pedra received a clear majority of the votes, which was unexpected.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” Von Euw said. “We thought there would certainly be a runoff.”

Tom Mogan, director of Student Development, said that student participation seemed to be slightly higher in this election, which was most likely due to the strength of the candidates and their ideas for Villanova.