The Handyman University Workshop at Villanova


Courtesy of Dr. Mike Ellis

Students in the HandymanU course pose with their logo.

Katie Formato, Staff Writer

Looking to get down and dirty? If you have an interest in construction schools, Handyman University is the course for you.

Villanova offers a variety of different courses designed for different majors. However, unknown to many, there is also an honors, one-credit enrichment program called Handyman University, open to all students. 

Handyman University is taught by Dr. Mike Ellis. The class has a size of 14 students and once six honors students have signed up, the remaining eight spots are open to all students. The class is a semester long and consists of five classes, each three hours long.

The Villanovan spoke with Ellis, who talked about how he got involved with teaching the class at Villanova. 

“I was offering free handyman classes in Phoenixville as a way to give back to the community and share,” Ellis said. “My friend saw my Facebook posts and shared it with her daughter, Jaime Haughton, who is the honors program coordinator here at Villanova. The rest is history. It’s the greatest job in the world.”

The class is composed of workstations, where students can choose how much time they want to spend at each station. 

“[So far,] we’ve learned carpentry, drywall, spackle, electrical, plumbing, door hardware, tiling and grouting,” Ellis said. “During breaks, we tried Bob Ross painting, vehicle maintenance and some team-building exercises with a game board I created.” 

“It’s great to see students step up and teach other students what I’ve shown them,” he said. “All part of the team building.” 

Besides the hands-on activities that students work on during class, outside of class there are tests that are open book, open note and open discussion based on what was learned in class. 

“I feel students retain information much better when it’s shared and discussed,” Ellis added. 

Ellis uses requests from the students to help create the curriculum of the course, since this class helps students learn about different aspects of their life where they can be “handy,” in and around their homes.

“The students really want to learn so I continue to offer them everything I can in my field,” Ellis said. “As a no-stress class, I demand a lot of smiles and questions. I am also big on creative solutions. I think students are much more creative than they give themselves credit for.”

Furthermore, Ellis spoke about changes that he hopes to see for the class in the future. 

“I’m happy with bigger classes,” he said “I’m [also] hopeful to share with other classes as a seminar or team-building experience.” 

This class is very unique and it offers students the opportunity to learn about the “handy” work that they can do in their lives. Students are able to work at different stations to learn many useful skills that they can utilize in their personal lives.

If you are interested in learning more about Handyman University, visit @vuhonors on Instagram to see pictures of projects that the students have worked on. You can also reach out to the honors program coordinator, Jamie Haughton, by emailing her at [email protected].