Meet Our Donors
Mary Anne Carlson Morgan ’70 MA
Since its creation in 1958, the Villanova University Department of Theatre has educated and inspired student-artists pursuing careers from acting and playwriting to dramaturgy and teaching. Through the generous support of donors, the department is fortunate to offer several awards for these budding talents—including the Brian G. ’67, ’70 and Mary Anne Carlson ‘70 Morgan Endowed Scholarship and Award.
Established in memory of Mary Anne’s late husband Brian, the award continues the Villanova story they began together.
Mary Anne first noticed Brian, a fellow graduate Theatre student at Villanova, in the late summer of 1966. She had just moved to the area from St. Charles, Illinois, when she saw him in the University’s production of, “Just a Local Revolution,” a play about the American Revolution written by the founder of the Theatre Department, Dr. Richard Duprey.
“I thought Brian was a gifted actor—I even wrote his name down,” Mary Anne says. “I was already thinking about my first directing project, and I knew that getting the chance to work with an actor like him on it would make a difference.”
The pair did, in fact, meet and bonded over their shared passions. They married at St. Thomas of Villanova Church in June 1970.
Both continued to act and direct after graduation, sometimes together. Mary Anne became the director of Theatre Arts at Radnor High School, while Brian served as a professor of theatre at Penn State and the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Brian eventually devoted himself fully to acting and was well-known in the Philadelphia theatre community and beyond.
After her husband’s passing in 1989, Mary Anne wanted to do something to honor his memory and benefit the theatre community they loved so dearly. Thinking back to their time at Villanova, she knew the perfect fit.
The Brian G. ’67, ’70 and Mary Anne Carlson ‘70 Morgan Endowed Scholarship and Award is presented annually to an outstanding second-year graduate student pursing a Master of Arts in Theatre.
“The recipient is selected by department faculty and staff, so being chosen validates and recognizes the student’s abilities,” she says. “It’s been a pleasure to connect with the awardees and see them grow in their careers.”
For the past 17 years, Mary Anne has devoted countless hours and resources to maintain the award. She hosts an annual fundraising dinner at her home and conducts personal outreach to raise awareness among fellow art lovers.
It was only natural that Mary Anne eventually decided to include a provision in her estate plan to continue her award’s legacy long into the future.
“Theatre changes you as a human being, and for me, that happened at Villanova,” she says. “I hope that through my bequest I will help generations of students have transformative experiences like I did.”
If you would like to learn how you can make a gift to Villanova, like Mary Anne did, please contact Steve Grourke, CAP®, CFRE at 610-519-3587 or email@example.com.
Nancy and Bernard ’74, ’81 MS Cavanaugh
Located at the heart of Main Campus, Falvey Memorial Library is an interdisciplinary academic hub for the Villanova University community. The library’s resources, programs and facilities continue to grow and adapt to the needs of modern, digitally-savvy students and faculty, thanks to generous donor contributions, including a recent bequest from Nancy and Bernard ’74, ’81 MS Cavanaugh.
Bernie’s education did not follow the typical path: He earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics over the course of seven years. Bernie worked full-time at Bell of Pennsylvania—now Verizon—and took one or two night classes per semester. Instead of driving home between class and work shifts, he made Falvey Library his home base, spending countless hours doing homework and research.
This intellectual atmosphere helped fuel his desire to learn, and he went on to earn his master’s degree in computer science from Villanova in 1981.
“I’m proud to call myself a Villanovan and be associated with this great University,” says Bernie. “My education has helped me a lot in the business world, not because of the equations I learned, but because my professors taught me how to think critically.”
Another perk from Bernie’s Villanova connection—catching the attention of his wife, Nancy. Nancy had taken some courses through the University. When she saw Bernie wearing his Villanova t-shirt at Bell of PA, she immediately struck up a conversation. They wed in 1976.
Beyond their educational ties to Villanova, the Cavanaughs, who now live in Virginia, chose to invest in the University because its Augustinian values are strongly aligned with their own.
“Villanova provides a wonderful environment for young people to become good citizens. I hope that our bequest to Falvey Library will help students develop a greater sense of intellectual curiosity—that they are excited to explore and understand beyond the easy answer,” says Nancy.
A portion of the Cavanaugh’s gift will also benefit student scholarships.
Make a Gift to Support What Matters Most to You
Your future gift to Villanova will help prepare the leaders of tomorrow. Contact Steve Grourke, CAP®, CFRE at firstname.lastname@example.org and 610-519-3587 to learn more.
Frank Falcone ’70 COE, ’73 MS and Robert Pizzano ’70 COE sat across from a group of Villanova students, all of them exhausted from another day of digging trenches and laying pipework to bring clean water to their host community in Panama. It was hot, humid and unforgettable.
“You talk about powerful impressions—we’re there with our students, carrying buckets of water to these houses with no water. Our students get it; it changes their lives,” Frank says.
For Bob, the experience was a turning point, shaping his philanthropic commitment to the University and ensuring a positive impact for Villanova students.
As 1842 Heritage Society members, longtime friends Frank and Bob have each made a planned gift to Villanova. Their gifts will have a significant payoff for future generations of Villanovans—in the meantime, the pair is actively involved in the areas they support.
After retiring in 2014, Bob sought a way to apply his talents and resources to a good cause. His son, a member of the Class of 2019, told him about Villanova Engineering service trips to Panama—part of a 25-year partnership between the University and a Catholic missionary.
Bob connected with Frank—whom he first met when they were civil engineering students and midshipmen in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at Villanova. An Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering, Frank has been involved in the Panama service project since 2010. The program was initiated in 1990 when a graduating student expressed an interest in devoting his engineering skills to those in need. The partnership works to provide approximately 16,000 rural and impoverished Panamanians with a consistent supply of fresh water—an accomplishment that’s the first of its kind anywhere in Central America.
Throughout the weeklong trek, Bob and Frank worked, participated in daily reflections and explored the local culture alongside students. On rides to the worksite, the group shared stories about their Villanova experiences—present and past.
“I’ve done volunteer work before, but this trip was more than that for me. I really felt like I was connected to Villanova again,” Bob said.
That feeling spurred another action. When Bob returned to the U.S., he contacted Villanova’s Office of Planned Giving to make an estate gift. He designated the funds to the College of Engineering, with the purpose of offsetting the cost of future service trips for students.
“When Bob told me about his gift, something in my mind clicked. I wanted to do something more for Villanova,” Frank said. “A planned gift is a very reachable way to make a difference.”
So, Frank made his own commitment to the Professional Development Track Program, a new initiative in the College of Engineering. Frank recognized the difference his support could make in propelling students and alumni to their dream careers.
The lesson Bob and Frank hope to share with others?
“Become a part of your gift,” Bob said. “Go on a service trip, or just come back to campus. It truly opens your eyes to the importance of supporting Villanova students.”
Read more about how the Villanova Engineering Service Learning project in Panama began, featured in the College of Engineering’s annual report (page 31).
For more information, contact Steve Grourke, CAP®, CFRE at 610-519-3587 or email@example.com.