Looking back on the top 10 stories of the year

This past school year has seen its share of action and controversy. The various news stories in the past nine months have been a sign of the progression the University has taken to a national entity.

The Villanovan staff has chosen the top 10 news-making stories of the year.

1. Donohue announced as new Univ. president

On Dec. 13, the Board of Trustees elected Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A as the 32nd president of the University. Donohue, who had previously served as chair of the theatre department, was a popular choice among students and faculty, and said that he hoped to make service a top priority for students.

Donohue takes over for Rev. Edmund Dobbin who served for 18 years, the longest University presidency ever.

2. Basketball season marked by Elite eight finish

In a historical year that featured the Wildcats defeating top-ranked UConn at the Wachovia Center and earning the first ever No. 1 NCAA tournament seed in the school’s history, the men’s basketball season was simply remarkable.

When news of Curtis Sumpter’s torn ACL circulated within the ‘Nova Nation on the eve of Hoops Mania, Coach Jay Wright’s ‘Cats blocked out the critics who doubted their size and four-guard line-up.

They played harder.

They played more together.

They played with pride.

An Elite Eight appearance, a Big East Co-Champions title, two All-Americans, countless Coach of the Year awards and three NBA draft entries later, the 2005-2006 men’s basketball family had propelled Villanova back into the national spotlight, and into the hearts of fans forever.

3. Pro-life statue presents controversy

What began as a sophomore year brainstorm evolved into a controversy extending onto the cover of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Spearheaded by the Villanovans for Life president Lauren Homan, plans for the creation of a statue to memorialize the victims of abortion became finalized this year. The bronze memorial statue, entitled “Maternal Bond,” was one of several efforts to eradicate the negative reputation of the trail leading to South Campus.

However, as an increasing number of people both inside and outside of the Villanova community caught word of the statue, opponents and proponents of the statue’s construction responded strongly. While the original goal was to have the statue built by the end of the 2005-2006 academic year, as of May 2006, the statue had still yet to be placed on Villanova’s campus.

4. Housing issue presents problems for Res. Life

Due to the large size of the undergraduate class, the University faced the unprecedented problem of trying to accommodate the large number of students. With a rising junior class of 1,575 students, residence life was forced to be creative in assigning housing to students.

The housing pinch forced Res Life to place juniors in rooms in Corr and Austin Halls on main campus. This resulted in a trickle down effect, as these dorms, usually reserved for sophomores, were now unavailable.

As such, rising sophomores were presented with the option of living either in Pennswood Hall at Harcum College, or in triples in Good Counsel with certain incentives. They could also take their chances with a room in the Quad.

5. Applications soar for 2010 class

For the class of 2010, the University received a record 12,892 applications (up 24 percent from last year) of which 5,350 were accepted, an acceptance rate of 41.5 percent. Of these, the University hopes to enroll 1,615 students as the class of 2010.

The application boom saw an increase in the number of minority students applying to the University, specifically African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans, as well as a sizable number of applications from Puerto Rico.

In addition, the world was also represented in the applicant pool, as the University received applications from over 70 countries.

6. University unveils new blueprint for diversity

The University gathered for the second time in two years to discuss how to increase the diversity on campus. This new outreach would cost approximately $7 million and would focus on the areas of environment, community members, education and training, supportive services and reassessment/renewal. Money has been specifically allotted to accomplish the goal of boosting diversity, and departments may request these funds in order to individually achieve this goal.

In the past year, the number of students from traditionally underrepresented races rose from 17 percent to 19 percent. There was an increase of 30 percent in applications from that category. On the faculty side, the number of underrepresented improved by 27 percent.

7. University to build new law, nursing facilities

The University announced plans to construct a new school of Law and a new College of Nursing. Although several off-site options were initially considered, both buildings will be on campus. The new law school building will be located in the parking lot adjacent to the current law school building, Garey Hall. The new nursing building will be located above the St. Augustine Center parking deck on Main campus.

The decision to put both buildings on campus followed the Radnor Township’s Planning Commission’s tabling of the original plan the University submitted to them, according to The Suburban and Wayne Times. That proposal called for the construction of 170,000 square-foot law school building and parking areas near the Villanova Conference Center on Matsonford Road. The nursing school would have moved into Garey Hall.

But the board was less than enthusiastic. “They had a difficult site – steep slopes, highly wooded – when in fact on campus they have an abundance of available land,” Planning Commission chair Al Murphy told the Times.

8. Increase in the use of multimedia technology on campus

In the past year, the University has taken strides to increase the availability of technology for students, especially with the demand for campus-wide downloading programs (such as Napster or iTunes) so high.

The University has been approved for iTunesU, a program that would allow students to download class lectures and campus news. This program will hopefully be available by June.

Villanova has also contracted with Ruckus to provide students with a free (and legal) music downloading service. Despite complaints that it has not lived up to its promise, Villanova remains among 50 universities nationwide to provide such a service.

9. Villanova accepts students displaced by Hurricane Katrina

Joining with colleges around the country, Villanova accepted 29 students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Twenty-two students came from Tulane University, six from Loyola and one from College of the Holy Cross. Tuition and fees for these students were waived in order to allow the students’ original universities to keep the money in order to rebuild what has been damaged.

Many students returned to their universities when they opened for the spring semester. Several students, however, chose to remain at Villanova and have applied for regular admission.

The University also contributed to the rebuilding effort in New Orleans by raising $10,000 to send there. Campus Ministry also arranged Habitat for Humanity break trips to the area.

10. Potential unionization of Dining Services employees

While this is an on-going story and one without a definitive ending, if Dining Services employees do indeed unionize, it could greatly affect the entire University.

At the end of March, a roundtable discussion about the topic was held in the Connelly Center. There, several workers emphasized, that Villanova “is not a bad place to work … but it’s the wages. If we get paid for the job we do, most everyone will be happy.”

Many workers love the people they work with and the students they serve, but struggle to make ends meet and feel that tuition reimbursement is not enough incentive to work for the wages they receive.

-Compiled by The Villanovan

editorial board