Students, alumni, priests, faculty, administration and members of the greater Villanova community packed the Finneran Pavilion on Thursday, September 5th for a grand unveiling of the new Strategic Plan for the University.
A screen reading “Welcome to the Strategic Plan Celebration” greeted Villanovans as they took their seats to hear the future direction of the University. “Echoing St. Augustine,” President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. announced the new plan for the school, named “Rooted. Restless.” “Rooted” alludes to Augustinian values and traditions in which Villanova is entrenched, and “Restless” realtes to St. Augustine’s call to move forward and ignite change. “We must never lose sight of our distinctive identity,” Donohue said.
He addressed the room after a video displayed the history of the University, the campus, and members of the school community. Upon taking the stage, Donohue exclaimed, “Welcome to September 5th, 2030.” He proceeded to speak about the monumental changes coming to campus and the school community over the next decade.
Over the next ten years, students can expect to see significant upgrades to buildings on campus, some of which include Falvey Memorial Library, White Hall, the Center for Engineering Education and Research, Tolentine Hall, the St. Augustine Center for the Liberal Arts and the Career Center in Garey Hall. Along with these physical upgrades to campus, students can expect a greater commitment to sustainability from the University, a plan for graduate student housing on campus, new opportunities for student and faculty research, increased networking with alumni and a continuous development fostering a diverse and inclusive community for all Villanovans.
Donohue asked the crowd, “How do we get to 2030? How do we remain rooted?” He answered his own question by touching on the school’s everlasting commitment to the values of the Augustinian tradition and a proclamation of the school’s continuous embracement of diversity in all ways possible. In order to emphasize the University’s responsibility to its students, Donohue announced that Villanova will meet 100% of all demonstrated undergraduate financial need by 2030.
“We work to live our Augustinian values,” Donohue stressed. Hand in hand with a commitment to these values will come new opportunities for professors as well. The University will add 60 new faculty positions over the next ten years in order to aid the personal and scholarly development of all teachers and researchers. Donohue emphasized the strategy for these improvements to the community to be “visible,” further echoing the need for “everyone to succeed.”
Donohue announced the plans for new interdisciplinary centers at Villanova, in addition to the current 20 Centers of Excellence and two interdisciplinary institutes. The new Center for the Common Good will expand service-learning opportunities to all Villanovans, enhance the quality and reach of service initiatives and create a clearinghouse to better connect service projects across the University. Highlighting an international service project in which Villanova students partner with Catholic Relief Services to bring sustainable access to water in communities in Madagascar, Donohue noted the exceptional work by Villanovans in the past that can continue to grow in the future with a consolidated University-wide service office.
At this point in the presentation, Donohue shifted his attention to classrooms and learning environments at the University. Sixty new faculty positions will be created over the next ten years in order to reduce teaching loads for research-active professors. There will be an emphasis on mentoring opportunities within the community, affirming personalized academic attention as a hallmark of the school. The campus will see improved classrooms and lab spaces, with specific attention to STEM. Science, research and engineering spaces will see major renovations in the shape of new buildings and new work spaces for students and faculty.
“Rooted. Restless.” will have a focus on the life and learning of graduate students as well. Donohue mentioned “improving [graduates students’] experience to become more connected” with the Villanova community as a goal. The campus will see graduate housing offered in the next decade in order to integrate more students into daily life on campus, as graduate students make up nearly 35% of the student population. As acknowledged throughout the “Rooted. Restless.” unveiling, “We can and must do better,” Donohue said.
Villanova hopes to be a resource for all students and alumni long past graduation. The new plan will place direct efforts on improving the Career Center, with increased mentoring and facilitation between students, employees, and alumni. Donohue hopes these resolutions will further “increase the power of the ‘Nova Nation.” In a path of lifelong, holistic success for all students, “We are restless,” Donohue reiterated, hoping that increased attention to a transformative Career Center will help students in future endeavors.
All of these improvements to the University over the next decade do not come without a cost. Calling on the “financial stewardship” of the Villanova community, Donohue examined how these transformations will take place by 2030. In addition to approximately $70 million of additional investment added to the University’s annual budget by 2030, these future plans will require an investment of approximately $400 million in capital improvements. Implementing a strategic plan as bold as “Rooted. Restless.” to elevate the school’s academic facilities strives to reflect the University’s stature as a national research university. Donohue calls all Villanovans to play an active role in this “thoughtful, measured approach” to improving the community that has shaped active scholars and citizens since 1842.
Donohue reiterated the “Rooted. Restless.” Strategic Plan’s focus on six core aspirations for the University: maximizing the impact of the Augustinian Tradition, fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, building a connected community, advancing innovative teaching and learning, creating dynamic opportunities for research and scholarship and propelling all Villanovans on a path of wholistic success.
After announcing the strategic plan to the audience, explaining it in depth, and asking all Villanovans to participate, Donohue presented the crowd with a call to action “fueled by common goals and shared belief in our Augustinian values and traditions.” With the same promise he presented to the Class of 2023 during their Orientation, Donohue asked the crowd to pledge themselves to the advancement of Villanova.
This Strategic Plan sets forth an exciting path for the next chapter in the University’s history. It honors our past and Augustinian values, embraces the present and Villanova’s distinctive experience and exceptional value; and charts the future of the University.