Villanova Chosen As 2023 Opus Prize Host


Brian Luppy/ Villanovan Photography

Villanova has appointed a new Vice President of University Advancement.

Katie Lewis, Staff Writer

A familiar phrase within Villanova vernacular is “restless hearts”, a reference to the St. Augustine quote regarding the human quest for fulfillment. As the University strives to embody this idea through acts of service, Villanova will be the host of the 2023 Opus Prize. The campus-wide event will take place throughout the coming months as the process of selecting and evaluating nominees commences, centered on the prize theme, “Awakening Restless Hearts.”

Every year, the Opus Foundation partners with a Catholic university to honor individuals and organizations inspired by faith to advocate for positive change in the face of daunting humanitarian challenges. On Nov. 9, Villanova will ultimately present finalists with a $1 million award and two $100,000 prizes.

As host, the University will take part in the process of identifying nominees, selecting finalists, participating in due-diligence site visits and planning the awards week on campus. A committee consisting of students, faculty, staff and alumni will oversee this process while embodying Villanova’s Augustinian mission, values and unique traditions. The committee is co-chaired by Nick Tumolo, Director of University Events and Initiatives, and Alicia Dunphy-Culp, Senior Director of First-Year Experience and Special Assistant to the Vice President for Student Life.

The three finalists will be evaluated and chosen by a jury made up of 11 members from the Greater Philadelphia area, representing a variety of fields from the arts to business to medicine and more. Some of the jurors include University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D.; Michael Nutter, Former Mayor of Philadelphia; and Crystal Lucky, PhD, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in CLAS and Professor of English. 

According to the Opus Foundation website, a primary object of the award is to recognize “unsung heroes” championing positive social change, especially related to poverty and injustice, as well as inspire communities by the finalists’ powerful acts of service. The finalists of the 2022 Opus Prize, hosted by The Catholic University of America, were organizations working to reduce crime in vulnerable neighborhoods, provide care to leprosy patients in Ecuador and promote tolerance between Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria.

The 2023 nominees and finalists for the Opus Prize are not yet revealed, but will be chosen based on criteria such as their commitment to social entrepreneurship, alignment with the Opus Foundation mission and values and ability to benefit from the publicity and monetary award. In his official message, Fr. Peter assures that more updates will arrive as the committee makes progress on upcoming events.

“On behalf of the entire Villanova community, we are honored to partner with the Opus Prize Foundation to host the 2023 award,” said Fr. Peter. “As Villanovans, our University mission calls us to ignite change, and the Opus Prize Foundation embodies this mission by supporting organizations addressing the world’s most pressing social problems. We look forward to infusing our Villanova values and traditions to this year’s event, and to helping identify the finalists deserving of this prestigious honor.”