Villanova University is in many ways the flagship of the Augustinians in the United States.
It was founded in 1842 on its present site in what is now Radnor Township just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
By 1846 it had twenty four students (who today would be regarded more as high school students than as university students) and a staff of eight.
Villanova awarded its first Baccalaureate (B.A.) degrees (just two of them) in 1855. It closed in 1857 and, with the national turmoil of the Civil War, did not re-open until 1865.
Villanova is located in a suburban community 12 miles (or 20 kilometres) west of Philadelphia.
Its campus covers 254 acres (1 square kilometre). It has more than sixty buildings, including a library with more than 800,000 volumes, an 11,800 seat stadium, state of the art academic facilities, and 26 student residence halls for on-campus living.
Today Villanova is the largest Catholic college or university in Pennsylvania. It is one of 262 institutions -- and one of 18 Catholic colleges or universities-in the nation - to have a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa, the prestigious liberal arts honor society.
It now has an enrolment of 9,800 full-time students, and an annual intake of 1,627 first year students. Ninety six percent of the first-year students ranked in the top 30 percent of their high school classes.
Of the total student body, more than 6,800 are undergraduates. They come from forty nine U.S. states plus Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands, and from 29 foreign countries.
In the publication, America's Best Colleges 2006, by the magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Villanova University was ranked number one for universities and colleges giving a Master's degree. Click here for details.
Villanova has topped the rankings in this category for fifteen consecutive years.
Villanova University is also home to a NROTC (U.S. Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps) unit which has commissioned more U.S. Navy admirals and Marine Corps generals than any institution besides the U.S. Naval Academy.
The list includes former Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Paul X. Kelley, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Adm. Walter Doran, Adm. William J. Fallon, Rear Adm. Joseph Hare, and Brig Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin.
In 2004, the commander of both U.S. Naval Forces Atlantic and U.S. Naval Forces Pacific were Villanova NROTC, meaning Villanova graduates controlled virtually the entire U.S. fleet.
Photos (at right):
Picture 1: Staircase at Villanova University.
Picture 2: The official crest of the University.
Picture 3: Martin Luther King at Villanova in 1965.