Meet Our Donors Archive
Marianne and Charles ’70 CLAS Connolly
For many families, the Villanova connection runs deep. Siblings hear stories from campus, children are raised on University traditions, and they often follow those footsteps to Villanova. In fact, 12 percent of the Class of 2018 has at least one parent who is an alumnus/alumna, and an additional 17 percent of students has a grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or other relative who attended Villanova.
The Connolly family exemplifies this Villanova tradition. Marianne and Charles ’70 CLAS Connolly Jr. have 17 direct and extended family members who hold Villanova diplomas spanning from the 1930s to today. The Connolly’s three children—Marianne ’01 CLAS, ’07 MS, Charles III ’05 VSB, ’14 MBA and Katherine ’07 CLAS—and son-in-law Pat Smith ’07 VSB (married to Katherine) are Villanova alumni, and their love of campus inspired each sibling to hold their wedding ceremonies at St. Thomas of Villanova Church.
“We all have a great appreciation for what Villanova has done for us and the relationships we built there,” Charles said. “Even after graduation, I stayed connected with two of my favorite economic professors, Dr. Ed Mathis and Dr. Keisher Thanawala. They truly cared for their students, and I saw that same passion in the faculty when my children attended.”
Marianne and Charles have been loyal supporters of Villanova for many years through annual giving and volunteer efforts, as well as holding season tickets for Villanova Basketball. But, as their multigenerational Villanova family expanded over the years, they were inspired to start making a bigger impact in honor of their unique alumni legacy.
The Connollys’ first major gift in 1997 established The Charles P. Connolly and Joseph J. Toland III ’38 Endowed University Scholarship in memory of their fathers, who were both passionate about education. Their second brought the family’s love of theatre to the forefront. Made through the Connolly Family Foundation in 2003, the gift provided an endowment for the University’s Theatre program to enhance resources for classroom education and on-stage productions.
When considering their most recent gift, Charles and Marianne wanted to give back in a way that would complement the priorities of the University’s current capital campaign, For The Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change. They consulted with their children on how the entire family could join in philanthropy to best make a difference now and into the future.
Ultimately, they decided to make a bequest with an additional cash gift to support the new Performing Arts Center, part of Villanova’s campus transformation along Lancaster Avenue. Charles recalls the impressive theatre performances he attended as a student, but the couple also recognizes the important need for a modern, dedicated space where student performers can thrive.
“Vasey Hall is the same theatre my father used. Villanova has a spectacular Theatre program but the facilities seat less than 200 people and the location is not convenient to those outside of campus,” said Marianne, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and actively volunteers with Villanova’s program.
The new Performing Arts Center will feature multiple performance spaces, classrooms and rehearsal space, dance and art studios, a scenery shop and offices for faculty and staff.
In recognition of their extraordinary generosity, the Connollys will be inducted into The Matthew Carr Society.
They are especially proud to continue to engage in philanthropy with their family of Villanovans. “It’s a statement of our love and loyalty to the University—and a dividend provided back for future generations,” Charles said.
Mary and Stephen '73 VLS Ford
"Steve Ford exemplifies what it means to be a Villanova lawyer—a successful corporate leader who remains dedicated to serving the greater good," said John Y. Gotanda, dean of the Villanova University School of Law. Stephen D. Ford '73 VLS and his wife, Mary, have committed a $1 million planned gift to the law school, through a life insurance policy. The gift further endows The Stephen D. and Mary C. Ford Scholarship, established by the couple in 2010 to support an incoming first-year student from New England who is deserving of assistance because of academic merit and/or financial need and who demonstrates an interest in public interest legal work. "Through the further support of this scholarship, Steve and Mary are helping to ensure that future Villanova lawyers have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps, continuing the Villanova tradition of leadership through service," said Dean Gotanda.
"My experiences at Villanova Law School—especially with Deans Reuschlein and O'Brien, the faculty, and my classmates—impressed upon me that hard work would pay dividends. As a recipient of financial support as a law student, it was only fitting that I give back in a way that enables others to pursue their dreams," said Ford.
A dedicated alumnus, Ford has been a master in the Villanova Law J. Willard O'Brien American Inn of Court, served as co-chair of the Leadership Gifts Committee for the Campaign for Villanova Law and volunteered in many other capacities. He and Mary are also members of the 1842 Heritage Society.
Helene and Terry Delaney CLAS '83
An avid marathoner, Terry Delaney has learned the value of pace, balance and long-term results, and he now applies those principles to his philanthropy. Through the use of a life insurance policy, Terry is extending the impact of his contributions so tomorrow's Villanovans can benefit from a gift that wouldn't be possible today. A former member of the track and cross-country teams, Terry reflects on his time at Villanova with great pride and gratitude. "Villanova had a massive impact on my life, and it especially influenced the trajectory that I took in my career," he says.
He credits his teammates, friends, professors and the overall Villanova community with helping to shape him into a confident and assured professional. But most importantly, he is mindful of those who supported Villanova while he was on campus. Those individuals inspire him to give back today.
"There are people before me who gave up their time and money for me to have a great experience at Villanova, and now I'm that guy," he says.
Terry was making annual contributions to Villanova, but he decided to step up his support in honor of his 30th Reunion. After some discussion with his reunion gift officer and the Office of Planned Giving, Terry took a clever approach to giving that provides both immediate and long-term support.
Terry made a 5-year pledge and divides the support between the Annual Fund, which would address the University's most pressing needs, and a life insurance policy that will provide what Terry calls an "impact gift" in the future.
A life insurance gift was something Terry had never previously considered, but once he learned about the benefits and how he could fund a policy that would pay out six times the amount he put in, he knew it was the right move. "I hope the University perpetuates itself," he says. "If my annual giving can get us to 200 years, then I hope my legacy gift will bring us another 250 years."
Mary-Helen '08 LAS, '12 VLS and Tim '14 VSB McCulloch
As a young married couple, Mary-Helen and Tim McCulloch have done a lot of thinking about their future, including their decision to make a planned gift to Villanova. The couple is leading the way for those in their generation to take advantage of this approachable form of giving.
It's fitting that a couple so committed to Villanova met at a Villanova basketball game. Tim was there selling Villanova corporate sponsorships; Mary-Helen was there to cheer on the Wildcats, and they sat just a few rows apart. A fateful blizzard kept other fans at home, so the two began chatting. Two years later, the couple wed at St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the University's campus.
As the couple began their life together, they looked for ways to give back to the University that held such an important role in their lives. A dedicated member of the Young Alumni Circle, Mary-Helen gives back to Villanova each year. Her annual contributions provide consistent support for Villanova's most pressing needs, but when she married Tim, the couple decided to build upon that foundation with additional forms of giving. After considering their options, they decided to make a gift of retirement funds, designating a portion of their savings to go to Villanova upon their death. "Many people, especially young alumni, are not aware of how easy it is to make this kind of gift," Tim said.
The planned gift will extend the life of Mary-Helen and Tim's philanthropy, yet it costs nothing upfront. At the same time, the couple enjoys immediate benefits like networking opportunities and special events that are exclusive to members of the 1842 Heritage Society."Villanova has given us some of the most positive academic and social experiences of our lives," Mary-Helen says. "A gift from our retirement account was the easiest and most impactful way to give back to the school that continues to be such an important place to us."