Villanova University President, the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, today announced a transformative $25 million leadership gift to its School of Law from alumnus Charles Widger, Esq., ’73 VLS, founder and executive chairman of Brinker Capital.
This investment is the largest ever to the Law School and the second largest in the University’s history. In recognition, the School will be named the “Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.” With this designation, the Law School becomes the first named school or college at Villanova University.
“Charles Widger’s historic gift recognizes the strength of Villanova’s Law School—our faculty, students and our alumni—and the unwavering belief in its future,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President. “The gift will propel our Law School forward to new heights, and I am pleased and honored that the School will now and forever be connected to the Widger name.”
This commitment will further strengthen the School of Law’s forward momentum and its position as a leader in legal education. In 2011, the School of Law embarked upon a bold new Strategic Plan that directly responded to recent changes in the legal industry. The School transformed its curriculum, focusing on the academic, practical and professional skills needed to succeed in 21st century legal practice.
Villanova is revitalizing legal education by pushing the boundaries of traditional instruction and infusing business coursework, professional development skills and real-world learning opportunities into every student’s education. Such attributes as the Law School’s new Centers of Excellence, law clinics, externship program and extensive network of alumni make the Charles Widger School of Law one of the premier law schools in Philadelphia, in this region and in the nation.
“My investment in Villanova Law is an investment in the preservation of the two institutions that are vital to a free society, the rule of law and a market economy, both of which will enable us to flourish as a people for generations to come,” said Charles Widger, Esq. ’73 VLS. “Our graduates enter the profession better trained than any others to take on this awesome responsibility as lawyers in private practice, business, government or the nonprofit sector. Applying their legal skills, business acumen and foundation in Villanova’s Augustinian Catholic mission, Villanova lawyers make a tremendous difference in society.”
Mr. Widger’s $25 million investment will support the growth of the endowment and enhance academic innovation at the Law School through the following programs to be named in his honor, including an:
Endowed Scholars Program to provide financial support to incoming Law School students who have shown a significant interest in both law and business and have demonstrated leadership qualities.
Endowed University Professorship to create a new interdisciplinary University faculty member position based in the Law School that will help foster cross-campus research, academic programming and collaboration among Villanova’s colleges.
Dean’s Innovation Fund to support new strategic and academic programs that enable the law school to stay on the cutting-edge of ever-shifting market conditions. The fund will launch new programs, such as efforts focusing on student formation, and will help us gain sustainable advantage in the legal education market.
“Chuck is the embodiment of our Law School’s ‘Where Law Meets Business’ philosophy,” said Dean Gotanda, JD, The Arthur J. Kania Dean and Professor of Law. “His legal and business expertise have led to a highly successful career and his steadfast support of our Strategic Plan and its academic innovations will enhance our educational experience for future Villanovans. We are grateful for Chuck’s extraordinary generosity and shared vision of what a legal education can and should be.”
This gift is part of the University’s $600 million Comprehensive Capital Campaign—“For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change”—the most ambitious in the University’s 174-year history. Villanova launched the public phase of its Campaign in October 2013, and to date has raised over $500 million towards its $600 million goal, including $55 million for the Law School.
“Charles Widger’s leadership gift exemplifies the goals of Villanova’s comprehensive capital campaign,” said Michael J. O’Neill, Senior Vice President for University Advancement. “A member of the Campaign’s Executive Committee and the Chair of the School of Law Campaign Committee, Chuck understands the goals of this campaign at Villanova—to cultivate academic innovation, enhance financial aid and student opportunities, and secure our future through growing the endowment. We are grateful for Chuck’s steadfast commitment to Villanova University in general and the Law School in particular.”
About Charles Widger, Esq., ’73 VLS: Founder and Executive Chairman of Brinker Capital, Charles Widger has over 30 years of experience working with investors in strategic investment planning, and manager search and monitoring. He co-authored the 2014 New York Times behavioral finance bestseller Personal Benchmark, and is chair-emeritus of the Money Management Institute, the $4 trillion managed account industry’s association. Mr. Widger is a member and past chair of the Villanova University School of Law Board of Consultors, a past chairman of the Board of Trustees of Gettysburg College, and a board member of One Thousand and One Voices, an Africa-focused private equity fund. Earlier in his career, Mr. Widger practiced law in Pennsylvania and served as an assistant attorney general for the Pennsylvania Department of Justice. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College and Villanova University School of Law, and holds an LLM in Taxation from Boston University’s School of Law. Mr. Widger also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.
About Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law: Founded in 1953, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law provides broad-based legal education that is grounded in academic rigor, practical hands-on training and a foundation in business that prepares graduates for diverse and rewarding legal careers. The Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association, offers seven in-house clinics and more than 150 externship opportunities that immerse students in the real-world application of their legal skills. Villanova is home to Centers of Excellence—the Center for Law and Religion; the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance; the John F. Scarpa Center for Law and Entrepreneurship; and the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law—which provide students the opportunity to pursue innovative, interdisciplinary legal fields through study, practical experience and mentorship.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.