Univ. seeks campus unity with reading

Lindsey Shoff

All the requirements were in place. It just took the right group of people to pull it all together.

A university committee, headed by Terry Nance, director of Multicultural Affairs, Charisma Presley, Residence Life Learning Coordinator and Joe Lucia, University librarian, has been discussing plans to carry out a “Villanova Reads” program, which will commence in fall 2005.

While attending a conference this summer on implementing diversity at the University of Maryland, Nance was struck by a program that the state school carried out and with which it experienced much success.

“The whole campus read ‘The Laramie Project,’ which I thought was so cool,” said Nance.

At the same time, Joe Lucia, University librarian, expressed interest in involving the entire campus in a project that dealt with literacy.

Nance added, “We say we’re a community at Villanova, committed to education and ideas. What’s more natural than a book club?”

In the style of the “Philadelphia Reads” program, in which committee member Ellen Bonds of the English department participated, the University will have for its own “book club.” The community will choose a book to read collectively in time for the beginning of the academic year 2005-2006. A kick-off event will be held with a possible invitation to the author. Book club meetings will be held in Falvey’s Holy Grounds café throughout the academic year.

Nance noted, “We really want to pick a book that engages everyone.”

To this end, a committee of faculty members from all academic colleges and representatives from the office of Residence Life, Multicultural Affairs and Academic Affairs began to discuss preliminary processes.

After discussing the possibility of making the book a Core Humanities or English requirement, the committee decided upon making it an option to everyone at the University.

“We really wanted to have a community project that involved everyone,” said Nance.

Tentative plans also include distribution of the as-of-yet undecided novel before summer break to all interested faculty and University students and possible distribution to all incoming freshmen, depending on the cost.

Committee member Charisma Presley noted plans to contact the University of Chicago and book publishing companies for a deal on getting the amount of books to cover the University. Presley said, “We want it to be a page turner, a book that students are so intrigued [about] that they can’t put it down. We want to change the intellectual climate of the school.”

Nance expressed her hope for an intellectually stimulating book as well, saying “I’m hoping it will be a book that has a cultural dimension to it, one that has a good subject for constructing a critical study.”

Committee members are excited about the entire community reading the same book so incoming freshmen and seniors will have specific common ground to discuss together.

“We want to sponsor an event that is intellectually engaging, entertaining, and educational,” said Nance.

“What’s better than a book?”