‘Nova Nation: A Proud Family

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Happiness. Great expectations. Pride.

Welcome to the magical new world of ‘Nova Nation, which swells with pride over the major changes in Villanova’s image locally, regionally and now nationally.

It surfaces when over 500 Villanovans show up at Notre Dame’s Joyce Center Jan. 6 to shake down a little thunder of their own as the Wildcats men’s basketball team edges the favored Fighting Irish. (for the eighth straight time!)

You see it again at Wrigley Field as the ever-growing, 1,100-member Chicago chapter of the Villanova Alumni Association enjoys a night watching a rare Cubs victory. You can trace this all to an enlightened policy begun by current enrollment management director Steve Merritt as he took over Admissions in 1989. As we look around the midwest, Villanova’s name grows like wildflowers. “It’s a brand name school,” the Barrington (Ill.) High School guidance counsellor’s officer says.

“Villanova is one of the most popular out- of-area destinations here,” says a young alumnus of Benet Academy in the western suburb of Lisle, Ill.

Years ago, your faithful correspondent decried the University’s narrow-scoped geography, but under the leadership of Michael Gaynor, with the help of Steve Burnett (now a prep school administrator in California), Villanova has become almost as popular a destination out here as the Ivies, Boston College, Georgetown, Duke or Boston U.

I know many students will find opportunities to disagree with administrative decision-making but folks, let’s be honest. In the past 14 years, Villanova has become a truly national institution, one that now has at least a visible (and very rapidly growing) endowment, one that is now able to hire some of the brightest young academic talent anywhere.

It has the luxury of rejecting 56% of its talented applicants pool, and virtually one- quarter of the students come from outside the contiguous 13 northeastern/middle-Atlantic states now.

And it appears the “Vanillanova” imagery will soon be a not-too-fondly-remembered remnant of our past.

The University is flourishing throughout most of the South, the west and can proudly and seriously proclaim sons and daughters of all 50 states are seeking their academic pedigree on the Main Line.

There has been tireless effort on the part of many of you undergraduates, be you from New Jersey or New Trier High School, to spread the word.

Do we still have flaws? Doesn’t every school? But as I sit here on the south shore of Lake Michigan, I want to congratulate you one and all.

You make me proud to be a Villanovan. Keep up the good work and …


Paul Smith ’70 (Arts & Sciences) Porter, Indiana