John M. Driscoll, O.S.A. records
Scope and Contents note
The John M. Driscoll papers consist of administrative files, correspondence, legal files, minutes, news media, printed material, personal papers, and reports. Administrative records include information on investment policies and endowment funds, Board of Trustees resolutions and membership information, policy statements, financial and salary information, and insurance information. Correspondence makes up the largest portion of the collection and dates from 1974 to 1988. Copies of outgoing correspondence are arranged chronologically, but the bulk of the correspondence is arranged by topic. The subjects cover a wide range of University matters, including academic policies, athletics, Board of Trustees matters, commencements and honorary degrees, public relations, development and capital campaigns, student matters, and faculty matters, including collective bargaining with faculty. The legal series includes records on estates, academic appeals, faculty and student legal matters, and information regarding St. Mary’s Hall and the separate incorporation of St. Thomas Monastery. Minutes, agendas, and related memoranda are present for the Board of Trustees meetings (1975-1988), Vice President’s meetings (1977-1988), as well as for several faculty and administrative committees. News media includes newspaper clippings about Father Driscoll and Villanova activities (1978-1988) and clippings and programs related to the Contemporary Shakespeare Company (1979-1982). Personal papers include addresses given by Father Driscoll (1971-1988); an agenda log (1975-1988); daily calendars (1964-1988); and various invitations and programs. Finally, the collection includes reports from a variety of University offices and committees as well as other associations, on topics such as athletics, academics, student life, development, strategic planning, accreditation, and self-studies and assessments.
- Creation: 1964-1988
Conditions Governing Access note
This collection is partially open for research. Please contact to Distinctive Collections for more information.
Rev. John M. Driscoll, O.S.A., graduated Villanova in 1948. He earned both his master’s degree and his doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University. He was ordained in 1951, and began a teaching career at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. In 1956 Father Driscoll was transferred to Merrimack College, where he served as a philosophy teacher and later as vice president and dean. He remained at Merrimack until his assignment to Villanova in the mid-1960s. As vice president, Father Driscoll played a major role in student-university relations. His work eventually resulted in the creation of the University Senate at Villanova. He became the University’s 30th president in 1975, serving in that role until 1988. In 1978 he was elected president of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities and became a recognized educational leader in the state. During the 12 years of his presidency, the Connelly Center and the Pavilion were completed, and numerous buildings were renovated. Father Driscoll also instituted the university’s first national fund-raising campaign, the Covenant Campaign, raising more than $34 million over a 10-year period.
“President since 1975, Father Driscoll notified the board of trustees at its December 8 meeting that he will be stepping down as the university’s chief administrative officer in August 1988.
Father Driscoll, 64, has served longer than any president in Villanova’s history. He succeeded the Rev. Edward J. McCarthy, O.S.A., in July 1975. At the time of his election, Father Driscoll was serving as vice president for Academic Affairs At Villanova. He came here in 1965 from Merrimack College in New England, where he was religious superior of the Augustinian community and a member of that school’s board of trustees.
A 1948 graduate of Villanova, Father Driscoll earned both his mater’s degree and his doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University. He was ordained in 1951, and began a teaching career at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., shortly thereafter.
In 1956 he was transferred to Merrimack, where he served as a philosophy teacher and later as vice president and dean. He remained there until his assignment to Villanova in the mid-1960s. It was a time of national turmoil involving campus protests and students demanding a stronger voice in university governance. As vice president, Father Driscoll played a major role in student-university relations that eventually broght about the university senate at Villanova.
He became the university’s 30th president in July 1975, beginning tenure of distinguished service. In 1978 he was elected president of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities and became a recognized educational leader in the state.
During the 12 years of his presidency, those qualities of leadership were reflected in the growth, advancement and reputation of the university. The purchase of land extended the borders of campus. New dormitories were constructed. Both the Connelly Center and the Pavilion were completed, and numerous buildings were renovated. A comprehensive internal evaluation nears completion.
To help offset the costs of expansion, Father Driscoll instituted the university’s first national fund-raising campaign. The Covenant Campaign, in two phases, raised more than $34 million over a 10-year period.
But most important, Villanova has grown academically, from a good university to one that U.S. News and World Report called one of America’s best. Under Father Driscoll’s direction, Villanova joined the academic elite. Its student body is increasingly more select and geographically diverse and its academic curriculum more innovative and challenging. It faculty ranks among the best in the nation, providing a values-centered education that earned plaudits in a recent national poll of college presidents.
All of the objective indicators of institutional excellence have been met during Father Driscoll’s presidency, and as a result, Villanova’s course has never been brighter as it prepares for the future.”
Works Consulted: Reflections, vol. 8, No. 4 (December 1987), p. 1-2
The Rev. Peter Donohue, OSA, President of Villanova University made the following announcement on June 4, 2008 to the campus community regarding the naming of the new College of Nursing building which opens summer 2008: “At its meeting yesterday, The Villanova University Board of Trustees approved the naming of the new College of Nursing building in honor of the Rev. John M. Driscoll, O.S.A. ’48 A&S. I am pleased to report that when it moves to its new home this summer, the College of Nursing will be located in Driscoll Hall.
Father Driscoll served from 1975 to 1988 as the 30th president of Villanova. During his presidency, Father Driscoll led a period of tremendous growth and advancement at the University. The purchase of land extended the borders of campus, new dormitories were constructed, and both the Connelly Center and the Pavilion were completed. That same period saw an increase in the University’s academic reputation as the student body grew more select and geographically diverse, the academic curriculum more innovating and challenging, and the faculty more distinguished – characteristics that continue to distinguish Villanova today as one of the nation’s leading Catholic universities.
Father Driscoll had a significant impact on, and special connection to, the College of Nursing. As vice president for Academic Affairs at Villanova, a role he served from 1965 until assuming the presidency, he facilitated the College’s move to St. Mary’s Hall. As President, he appointed M. Louise Fitzpatrick the third Dean of the College and presided over the approval and accreditation of the Masters Program in Nursing, the founding of The Nursing Alumni Society, the awarding of Villanova’s first Presidential Scholarship to a nursing student, and the awarding of the first College of Nursing Medallion.
Prior to coming to Villanova in 1965, Father Driscoll served in many capacities at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, including philosophy teacher, vice president and dean, religious superior of Our Mother of Good Counsel Monastery, and as member of the college’s board of trustees. After stepping down as president of Villanova in 1988, Father Driscoll went back to Merrimack College where he was assigned as Prior of its Augustinian community. In 1995, Father Driscoll returned to the Saint Thomas Monastery here on campus where he continues to reside. Driscoll Hall will provide the College with a first-class educational facility in the heart of campus that will serve as an inspirational setting for our nursing students, faculty, and staff. Please join me in congratulating Father Driscoll and the College of Nursing on this worthy tribute. Father Driscoll’s accomplishments as an alumnus, as a president, and as an Augustinian are worthy of this honor and I am pleased that Villanova is able to recognize him in this way.”
The $32 million, 75,500 sq. ft., state-of-the-art facility will open in support of the education of the next generation of nurses, demonstrating the University’s commitment to nursing education as part of its institutional and social mission. The College, a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence in Nursing Education, enjoys a reputation across the country and the globe for its superior programs and graduates. This new building will support its initiatives including student learning in technology-driven clinical simulation labs and enhance an environment for teaching and scholarship. It will provide an atmosphere that stimulates advancing the future of nursing. Additionally, this environmentally-friendly building will provide space for University events.
The groundbreaking ceremony, to which the University community--including its alumni--was invited, was held at the construction site on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 12:15 p.m. Its dedication is scheduled for October 6, 2008.
As Villanova University’s College of Nursing embarks on its 55th year of educating the next generation of nurses, the College celebrates a new home in Driscoll Hall. On Monday, October 6, 2008, students, faculty, alumni and guests gathered to dedicate Driscoll Hall and mark Villanova’s commitment to nursing education as part of its institutional and social mission.
“At Villanova, rigorous academic programs are enhanced by a focus on community and a commitment to service – qualities that are exemplified by our College of Nursing,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A.., Villanova University President. “With the opening of Driscoll Hal, our nursing faculty will now be able to educate the next generation of nurses in a facility that matches the level of leadership they develop for the nursing profession.”
Works Consulted: News Release, 2008
28.5 Linear feet (57 manuscript boxes)
Language of Materials
The John M. Driscoll papers consist of administrative files, correspondence, legal files, minutes, news media, printed material, personal papers, and reports regarding his period as president of Villanova University.
- Guide to John M. Driscoll, O.S.A., records, 1964-1988
- Father Dennis Gallagher O.S.A and Beaudry Allen
- April 2020
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Part of the Villanova University Archives Repository
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