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“What is the next big thing for Villanova?” University President Rev. Peter Donohue, OS.A., addressed this question during his opening address to the Villanova community on Sept. 5 in the Villanova Room. Donohue began his speech by highlighting the University’s recent successes, including a 24 percent increase in undergraduate student diversity and strong rankings from US News & World Report magazine.

“Villanova has changed, is changing, and will continue to change,” Donohue said as he outlined changes to come at the University this year.

According to Donohue, on Oct. 26, the University will launch a $600 million comprehensive capital campaign dedicated to cultivating academic innovation, attracting and supporting world-class teacher scholars, expanding student opportunities and financial aid, and building a premier student-centered living and learning environment. The long-term goal of the campaign is for the University to gain recognition as one of the preeminent Catholic higher learning institutions and one of the best institutions in the nation.

“It is time to take the necessary steps to prepare for a move from a master’s comprehensive institution to a national research institution,” Donohue said. “This will take some time, but I firmly believe that we need to chart our destiny and not be controlled by it.”

Donohue said the University’s doctoral programs are one area that will see big changes. Currently, the University has three doctoral programs.

In order to be reclassified by the Carnegie Foundation as a national research institution in the next five to 10 years, the University has to graduate 20 students per year with doctoral degrees. Last year, 18 doctoral candidates graduated from the University.

This week, Donohue will attend a two-day retreat with the Strategic Planning Committee to evaluate key topics, including producing the prerequisite numbers for new, cutting-edge Ph.D. programs.

He hopes a new doctoral program will be ready to launch in the 2014-2015 academic year.

He also touched on the topic of intercollegiate athletics and the new Big East conference.

In his address, Donohue also discussed the issue of the University’s affordability, saying that Villanova has taken steps to grow its endowment and substantially increase financial aid.

“Villanova is an expensive education,” said Donohue. “We will need to find ways for students to gain access to this community. The question is, how? It is crucial to find ways to address the growing cost of higher education.”

Donohue stressed the importance of embracing change at the University, especially in light of the changing face of higher education throughout the nation.

Throughout his address, Donohue stressed the need for smart, aggressive, strategic change, by anticipating what is next and being poised to embrace it.

“As we move forward together, our focus is clear,” Donohue said. “I believe it is time for us to introduce the nation to Villanova University. That’s the next big thing.”

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