Art museum reception provides night of glamour

Melissa Weigel

For one evening, at least, it seemed all of Philadelphia had turned Villanova blue and white, literally. The Cira Centre building lit up its windows in the shape of a Villanova “V,” boathouse row was decked out in blue and white lights and the PECO building had the words “Villanova celebrates their 32nd president” scrolling across the top.

Yes, Philadelphia was celebrating the inauguration of Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., as Villanova’s 32nd president. The University hosted an “Evening of Celebration” at the Philadelphia Art Museum, where over 1,000 guests had the opportunity to enjoy art, music, food and of course, the presence of Donohue.

“The purpose of the evening was to provide some of Father Donohue’s family and friends, as well as some faculty and staff administrators, donors, as well as some students an opportunity to festively celebrate the inauguration at an art venue in Philadelphia,” Chris Kovolski, director of Development Communications, said.

The program for the evening included a musical tribute to Donohue involving six graduates of the Villanova Theatre Program, where he served as director for the past 13 years. Father David Cregan, Julie Czarnecki, Cheryl Mazzarini, Gregg Pica, Barby Hobyak-Roche and Michael Roche sang a medley of songs from the musicals he has directed. John Drosdick (’65), president of the Board of Trustees, also spoke and introduced Donohue, who briefly thanked the guests. Senior Will Sheridan and junior Tricia Elms acted as emcees for the evening.

“It showed me a different aspect of the University; I got to meet everyone from big donors to regular Villanova people who love the school just as much as I do,” senior Danica Feustel, a member of the Student Inauguration Committee, said. “Father Peter is so accessible; some students never even get to meet their president, and he is so willing to involve students.”

Guests could also enjoy two European art galleries within the museum that were left open during the entire evening.

Indeed, this visible presence of the arts was a major reason for hosting the celebration at the Art Museum.

“Father Donohue has said he wants a stronger presence in Philadelphia and a stronger partnership with Philadelphia organizations,” Kovolski said. “He wants to emphasize the arts in Philadelphia, and this was a way to reinvigorate that relationship.”

Donohue also emphasized his relationship with students, past and present, as alumni made up a significant part of the guests. According to Gary Olsen of the Alumni Affairs Office, there were alumni present from all over the country, representing all classes and colleges.

“[Donohue] has been such a visible campus presence for so long here, he has created a lot of friendships, so he was delighted to see many of them come back,” Kovolski said.

At the end of the night, the Supernovas a cappella group led the guests in singing the alma mater. As guests left, the celebration continued with the lighting of the Villanova-themed buildings around Philadelphia.