Nursing Alumna and President of CHOP to make Commencement Address

Nicole O'Donnell

Madeline Bell, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Villanova alumna, will deliver the University’s 2015 commencement address.

“I’m very excited about Madeline saying yes to us,” says Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., University President. “It’s wonderful that students can actually hear from someone who was where they are right now. She is a successful alum…and a reflection of the preparation for success that Villanova provides.” 

Bell leads more than 12,000 employees and manages the clinical operations and corporate services for CHOP, the top ranked children’s hospital in the nation. “During her tenure as CHOP’s senior executive, Bell has led significant growth while maintaining the financial strength and clinical excellence of the organization” according to a University-issued press release. 

Bell has maintained close ties with the University since her 1983 graduation. In 2007, she was awarded the College of Nursing’s Nursing Medallion for Distinguished Leadership in Administration of Health Care Services, and is also an active member of the Villanova Nursing Alumni Association. Most recently, she was selected as the recipient of the 2013 Women of Distinction Award conferred by The Philadelphia Business Journal and The Forum of Executive Women. 

She is also responsible for the development of the ambulatory network, including home care, physician practice acquisition and community hospital partnerships, as well as the implementation of the electronic health record and numerous nationally recognized clinical and family-centered care programs. 

The process of selecting a commencement speaker is a long and arduous one. The search begins in August when the University begins conducting a widespread search seeking suggestions and recommendations for speakers. “We get a long list of names, and there’s a committee that looks at them all,” describes Donohue. The University seeks individuals who are distinguished in their respective fields or have promoted the University in some way. 

“Everybody wants someone famous,” Rev. Donohue explains. “But it’s hard to get them. I looked at it as this is a moment to celebrate the seniors, their accomplishments here, and to wish them well into the future. This is an alum who has moved very well into the future.” 

In addition to serving as commencement speaker, Bell will also be awarded an honorary degree alongside M. Louise Fitzpatrick, EdD, RN, FAAN, Connelly Endowed Dean of the College of Nursing at the University, and Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and executive secretary to the Vatican Media Commission. 

Dr. Fitzpatrick will receive the degree of Doctor of Medical Science, honoris causa. 

She was chosen as a recipient for her vast contribution to the College of Nursing at the University, of which she has served as dean since 1978. Fitzpatrick developed the College into a premier nursing program, recognized by the National League for Nursing as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. 

Under her leadership, academic programs have undergone enormous expansion and transformation to include masters and doctoral programs, and three centers have been established: the Center for Nursing Research, the Center for Global and Public Health and the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education. 

Monsignor Paul Tighe will receive the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa. He was selected as a recipient for his instrumental role in the creation and sustainment of the University’s world-renowned Vatican internship program. Additionally, Tighe has greatly contributed to the Vatican’s digital transformation and lead efforts to expand social media presence. He is dedicated to using the power of social communication to address social issues and spread the Gospel, and is responsible for the social media presence of many Vatican media outlets.