A $10 million gift from University alumnus Terence (Terry) O’Toole ‘80 and his wife Paula (Polly) has enabled the creation of a new “promise” scholarship that will identify academically talented students in their sophomore year of high school and offer them support through their graduation from the University.
The O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship Program will select at least two students every academic year from the Archdiocese of Newark who currently receive funding from the Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children for their Catholic high school education.
The students are guided during the college application process and, upon admission to Villanova, receive full funding for their tuition, room and board, study abroad and other expenses.
“The idea is to provide both scholastic aid and other ways to prepare students to attend Villanova – career services, multicultural affairs, enrollment and financial aid,” O’Toole explained.
“[The scholarship will] help the students to prepare themselves for what kind of classes they need to be taking and expose them to campus before they come.”
O’Toole, former chair of Villanova’s Board of Trustees and current co-chair of the Villanova Capital Campaign, attended the Villanova School of Business on a Presidential Scholarship.
“I grew up in Delaware, went to a public high school,” he said. “I was the beneficiary of somebody else’s foresight and gift and wanted to give back.”
The O’Toole Family Presidential Scholarship is designed to offer not only financial, but also other forms of support to its recipients. Candidates are chosen on the basis of nominations, academic promise and financial need.
After a series of interviews, two to three students are chosen to participate in the program.
The students receive guidance on their coursework and college application process through their remaining high school years.
Upon admission to the University, the recipients are incorporated into the already established Villanova Presidential Scholars program, which offers mentorship and financial support to academically gifted students.
“I commend the school for its innovation,” O’Toole said in reference to the University’s idea to identify the recipients early on. “This is certainly a small way to help, but it has a tangible result.”
The fund has already identified its first three recipients, future members of the Class of 2019.
O’Toole also spoke about the scholarship fund’s impact on the University.
“Villanova aspires to be one of the great national Catholic universities,” he said. “A gift focused on the endowment would be appropriate, but I wanted it to be meaningful – something I can watch grow over time.”
A scholarship benefitting students from the Archdiocese of Newark is certainly meaningful for the O’Toole family.
Both husband and wife have for several years supported high school students through the Scholarship Fund for Inner-City Children. Polly O’Toole is a member of the organization’s Board of Trustees, and the couple seeks to ensure that the program’s beneficiaries transition successfully from high school to college life.
“You can see a person whose life has been changed by going to Villanova when they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to,” O’Toole said, offering his perspective as both a donor and a resident of Newark. “It’s certainly a city that needs a lot of help.”
O’Toole also recognized the University’s impact on his own personal development. He met his wife, a graduate of Rosemont College, while attending Villanova. O’Toole credited his two-year stint as editor of the Villanovan with giving him valuable lessons in running a business.
“My four years at Villanova really changed my life educationally and helped me mature as a person,” O’Toole said. “I’ve been very fortunate in business. To me, giving back is necessary; it’s what you should do.”
The O’Toole Family Scholarship is the first of its kind to identify students early in their high school education and offer them the full benefits of a Villanova Presidential Scholarship.
The program could become the basis for similar “promise” scholarship funds in other locations.
“To me the dream would be to replicate this in five other cities,” O’Toole said. “We raise more money for the endowment and gain a stream of 10 to 15 students every year coming to Villanova.”