“Greater Great” Campaign to ignite change already surpasses goal



Jack Judge

October 2013, the University launched “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign To Ignite Change” an unprecedented campaign to raise $600 million. Rooted in Augustinian values and the greatness already achieved in the University’s history, the endeavor is focused on securing resources pivotal to enable the Villanova community to ignite change to its maximum potential. 

“This campaign represents the last missing component in the arsenal of a great national university” Michael J. O’Neill, Senior Vice President for University Advancement, said. “Each of us should be rightly proud of the national greatness we have achieved within our means. But just imagine what we could achieve . . . the capacity to ignite change on a grander scale . . . if we had more resources.”

As of Jan. 10, 2017, 620.7 million dollars has been raised with 17 months still left in the campaign. While the task may have seemed daunting in its initial progressive vision, the leaders behind the campaign were confident in the global and passionate Villanova community. The University has secured the largest gifts in its history from James Davis ’81 VSB and his wife Kim ($50 million), Charles Widger Esq. ’71 VLS ($25 million) and William B. Finneran ’63 ($22.6 million). 

“Villanova does more than just educate,” Davis ’81 VSB, said. “When you come through Villanova, you have an education but you also have far more than that. There’s a depth to the experience that you get here and it is an honor to be able to give back in recognition of that.” 

Davis ’81 VSB serves as the Co-Chair to the campaign along with former editor of The Villanovan, Terence O’Toole ’80 VSB. Both will continue to lead and oversee the comprehensive capital campaign as the fundraising continues.

Along with the impressive and generous individual donations, the many other contributions have resulted in raising $287 million toward The University’s endowment and the establishment of 227 new endowed scholarships.

 “[The campaign] is testament to your extreme generosity, loyalty and passion,” University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. said. “You are a special and powerful group of Villanovans, and we couldn’t have gotten to this point without all of you. Every single gift to this campaign—large or small—matters and will ensure that Villanovans for generations to come have the opportunity to experience the academic excellence and Augustinian tradition at the heart of our community.” 

St. Augustine once stated that “the higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.” Projects such as the Performing Arts Center and the Finneran Pavilion are exciting developments not only to the visual beauty of the University, but also to the exponential growth that is happening every day. This campaign has gathered momentum paralleled only to that of the 2016 men’s basketball national championship run. We all know how that storyline played out.