Over $6.5 million raised on successful 1842 Day


Courtesy of Villanova University Twitter

Jack Judge

When 1842 Day commenced on Tuesday, Sept. 19, an ambitious and daunting task was posed to the Villanova community. Could 1,842 donors contribute to the University’s first day of giving in 1,842 minutes? The initiative required the support of the fervent Villanova community to coalesce and further contribute to the greater great. Needless to say, Villanovans far and wide heeded the call, as 1842 Day was not only a tremendous success but also a demonstration of ‘Nova Nation’s capacity to unite.

The entire “For The Greater Great” campaign has demonstrated a persistent effort to raise the upper limit for the University’s pursuit of growth. 1842 Day continued in the University’s streak to defy expectations. According to the official 1842 Day website, 4,690 donors raised $6,544,590 dispersed throughout more than 70 areas of the University. As donations began to grow exponentially, the initiative began to take on a quasi competitive form where the Villanova community was pushing itself and each individual to its maximum potential.  The breakdown of the 4,690 donors was: 2,640 undergraduate alumni, 609 parents, 277 Grad School Alumni, 268 Faculty/Staff, 206 current students and 63 friends. The Class of 1987 led all undergraduate alumni with 116 donors, followed by the Class of 1990 with 110 donors. Alumni participation was a major focal point of the day of giving and the initiative also attracted many new alumni donors.

The Villanova Annual Fund received the most donor participation with 839 individual contributions amounting to $177,000. Villanova School of Business had the next highest donor participation with 448 gifts reaching $224,000. The University’s College of Engineering received $996,000 and closely followed the Finneran Pavilion ($1.05 million) construction in terms of total dollars raised. These specific areas of the University received a large portion of the money raised, nonetheless, all donations will make a significant impact on the specific parts of the University and the community as a whole.

A noteworthy cause that 218 donors supported is The Disaster Relief Fund. The official page for the drive says that the money “supports students who have been impacted by natural disasters, including the recent hurricanes.” At the culmination of 1842 Day, University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. led a moment of silent reflection to offer thoughts and prayers for those affected—especially the numerous members of the Villanova community. $11,500 was raised for the Disaster Relief Fund and will be sent to assist in the recovery effort.

Other interesting aspects of 1842 Day were the various challenges that several alumni offered to inspire fellow Villanovans to participate in the day. There were five particular goals that were reached to help raise over a million dollars for the cause. First, the Demisemiseptcentennial Challenge required that the day of giving achieved its goal of 1,842 donors in 1,842 minutes. As a result, the Board of Trustees collectively contributed $1,842,000 for the successful outcome of the day. Second, the Greater Great Challenge was unlocked with the Chair of the Board of Trustees donating $842,000 for the 842 new undergraduate alumni donors. The Nova Nation Challenge urged for at least one gift from all 50 States and DC and Terry Delaney ’83, President of the VUAA Board, will now make a challenge gift as that prerequisite was met. Last, the  Once A Wildcat Challenge was met with the following alumni committing to make matching gifts in honor of each donor on 1842 Day: John Ermilio ‘67: $18.42, up to 1,000 donors; Ingrid Keag ‘88: $18.42, up to 1,086 donors and; Nance Dicciani, Ph.D., ’69: $18.42, up to 1,842 donors.

The next step is seeing how the money that was raised will be utilized in each specific area. When asked about the results of the initiative, Amanda Summers ’19 offered some of her thoughts on the success of the day. “To see the magnitude of success on the first ever 1842 Day was amazing,” she said. “I think that the day of giving added a meaningful element to the St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration week.” Like many other students, Summers is excited to see how the day will impact the Villanova community and what it will accomplish in the future.

Many universities have day-long events focused on fundraising and giving. However, 1842 Day was different in execution and in substance. From the leadership of Marci Paton, Director of Annual Giving, to the livestream coverage by NBC News Anchor Keith Jones, there were many essential people involved to not just implement a day of giving into the St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration Week. Rather, those who helped organize and carry out this day made it unique to the University by grounding it in  its tradition. 

Students gathered outside the Connelly Center to sign thank you cards to donors and many who participated throughout the 1,842 minutes submitted photos to show their support for a worthy cause. Besides the statistical weight that the results of the day have, one particular outcome from the day serves as a profound testament to the significance of the day: the 1842 Day mosaic. A portrait of the St. Thomas of Villanova Church is comprised of countless individual photos of participants with the fixation on the phrase “Together We Are Greater.” The mosaic captures the spirit of the entirety of the 1,842 minutes and reverberates the purpose of the initiative: unite to ignite. Certainly, a bold challenge such as the one posed to the Villanova community will invite the necessity to prove itself. However, there is only one striking question that is posed at this time: by how much will the University beat the goal for next year? The pressure is on.