VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University will officially dedicate its new state-of-the-art soccer facility, the Higgins Soccer Complex, in a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 4. This $3 million project, completed in August 2014, was made possible through the leadership and generosity of several individuals – with the single largest gift of $1 million contributed by Patrick T. Higgins ’79 CLAS and Julianne Bigelli-Higgins ’80 CLAS. The gift was part of the University’s $600 million Comprehensive Capital Campaign, “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change.”
“Pat and Julie have been instrumental in making this project a reality,” said Mike O’Neill, Vice President for University Advancement. “In addition to their generous support, they have been true leaders in cultivating and inspiring others to give to this project so that all Villanova students – current and future – can utilize this great facility. We are grateful for their efforts in this campaign.”
Villanova launched the public phase of its Campaign in Oct. 2013, and to date has raised more than $350 million towards its $600 million goal. The most ambitious in the University’s 170-year history, Villanova’s Campaign is aimed at cultivating academic innovation across its schools and colleges, investing in recruiting and retaining the finest teacher-scholars, dramatically enhancing financial aid and student opportunities, and continuing to build a premier living-learning environment on the University’s 260-acre campus.
Located on the University’s picturesque West Campus, the Higgins Soccer Complex provides Villanova with robust and versatile new fields for its varsity men’s and women’s soccer programs, as well as greater field availability year-round for other varsity programs, intramural and club sports and other events such as Special Olympics.
"It was a very easy decision for Pat and me to give back to Villanova,” Julianne Bigelli-Higgins said. “In the spirit of helping to ignite change, we felt that our gift to the University would be a catalyst to inspire others."
The renovated complex replaced the natural grass with two FIFA approved artificial turf playing surfaces. The game field, Campolo Field, was made possible by the generosity of Joseph P. Campolo ’90 VSB. The adjacent practice field, Zimmermann Field, was named in memory of William F. Zimmermann ’15 by the Higgins’ family. The new complex also includes a soccer scoreboard donated by Peter M. Harding ’91 VSB, team shelters, a media perch and ball blocking system. The facility is surrounded by a stone retaining wall and decorative aluminum fencing.
“The Higgins Soccer Complex is truly a transformative facility which will be a critical piece for our men’s and women’s soccer programs as they continue on their path to national prominence,” said Vince Nicastro, Villanova University Director of Athletics. “This beautiful new venue will also serve literally thousands of Villanova students as they pursue recreational and club sport activities for many years to come. We can’t express our gratitude to the many loyal Villanovans who have made this a reality, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible leadership and generosity demonstrated by Pat and Julianne.”
Patrick T. Higgins and Julianne Bigelli-Higgins met on Villanova’s campus, married, and each went on to impressive professional careers. Higgins is CEO and co-founder of OnCore Biopharma, Inc., in Doylestown, Pa., an emerging biotechnology company focused on research, development and commercialization of therapies for hepatology and infectious diseases. Previously, he was Executive Vice President at Pharmasset, Inc., a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing, and commercializing novel drugs to treat viral infections. Bigelli-Higgins was Senior Vice President of Government Banking at Fleet Bank for 25 years, and presently consults in the areas of marketing and small business development. Higgins and Bigelli-Higgins graduated from Villanova in 1979 and 1980, respectively, with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. They reside in Far Hills, N.J.
Through the years their affinity for their alma mater has grown, and so too has their love of sports. Higgins’ father was an accomplished soccer player, an All-American at Seton Hall, while Higgins played intramural soccer at Villanova. This project took on special meaning since Higgins and Bigelli-Higgins’ son, Colin ’15, is now a student at the University and involved in the intramurals program. They felt strongly about Villanova’s intramural and club sports, and the importance of those programs having first-class fields on which to play.
Other major donors to the soccer complex include Joseph P. Campolo ’90, and Peter M. Harding ’91. A 1990 graduate of the Villanova School of Business (VSB) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Campolo is a Partner and President at Arbor Private Investment Company, a boutique investment firm based in Chicago specializing in developing and growing companies in the food and beverage industry. Harding, a 1991 graduate of the Villanova School of Business (VSB) with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy, serves as President and CEO of A.T. Clayton, Inc., a division of Central National-Gottesman, Inc. – one of the largest privately-held pulp, paper and packaging companies in the world.
The most ambitious Campaign in the University’s 170-year history, Villanova’s Comprehensive Capital Campaign, “For the Greater Great: The Villanova Campaign to Ignite Change,” is focused on the following priority areas: Endowment ($250 million); Academic and Programmatic Priorities ($125 million); Facilities ($150 million); and Annual Fund ($75 million). For more information on the Campaign, visit www.forthegreatergreat.com
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 School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.