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2020 Yearly News Roundup

By January 13, 2021May 19th, 2022Campus Blog, Press Release, Student Life

It was a busy year here at Villa. As COVID-19 swept through the nation, things became a little different at Villa for the Spring and Fall Semesters. Campus closed for a short period of time, and classes switched from in-person to virtual. But our Faculty and Staff stepped up to the plate and continued to put our students first. As we ring in this new year, we’re taking a look back at some of the positive things the Villa Maria community accomplished in 2020. We look towards 2021 with pride for all that we’ve accomplished and excitement for everything that is to come. Go to for a full list of stories from the past year, and enjoy some of the highlights below.

Interior Design Program Celebrates 15th Anniversary, Student Awards
March 5, 2020: The Villa Maria College Interior Design program hosted a reception in honor of its annual Student Exhibition, which opened on February 28th. This event marked a special milestone in the Interior Design program’s history, it’s 15th anniversary as a baccalaureate program, Villa Maria’s first such program. A VIP reception with President Matthew Giordano, was held prior to the start of the gallery opening. Read the full article here:

Changes to the Admissions Process at Villa Maria Eases the Burden of Applying to College Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
March 25, 2020: As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation, students nearing the end of their high school careers may feel confused and anxious about the best way to continue applying to colleges. In response to these feelings of uncertainty, Villa Maria has made changes to its admissions process. Read the full article here:

No Changes to Amount of Support Villa Maria Students Receive as Classes Shift From In Person to Online
March 27, 2020: It’s no secret that students choose Villa Maria for the unmatched support they receive and the genuine sense of community they experience during their time at the College. Especially during the spring semester, the small campus is bursting with excitement, passion and activity. The unexpected and indefinite temporary closure of the Villa Maria campus due to Covid-19 has been upsetting, to say the least. Read the full article here:

2020 ADDYS: Graphic Design Professor Julie Zack Wins Levy Osborn Award for Excellence in Communications; Students Earn 8 Awards
April 16, 2020: Before social distancing became a way of life, team Villa had the chance to celebrate the hard work of local advertising professionals at the 2020 ADDY Awards. As always, several of Villa Maria’s graphic design students submitted their work to be critiqued alongside the work of students from other local institutions. Twenty awards were given to students; 11 students from Villa walked away with a total of 8 awards. Read the full article here:

Outstanding Students and Honors Society Inductees Named, Faculty Awards and Promotions Announced for 2020
May 12, 2020: In the words of Dr. Ryan Hartnett, Vice President for Academic Affairs:
“This year we were unable to gather for our annual Honors Convocation. Under ordinary circumstances, we would come together in-person as a community to celebrate significant academic achievements of our students and our faculty members. This year, though we cannot meet face-to-face, we still wish to recognize and present awards to our students and colleagues.” Read the full article here:

Graduation Award Winners Named From Villa Maria’s Class of 2020
June 18, 2020: Each year, Villa Maria College recognizes two members of its graduating class: one as the winner of the Blessed Mary Angela Student Award and the other as the winner of the Martin Wanamaker Spirit Award. Named after the foundress of the Felician Sisters, the Blessed Mary Angela Student Award is given annually at Commencement to the most outstanding graduate of Villa Maria College. The award is selected by the President of the College and their Cabinet, based on nominations from faculty and staff. Read the full article here:

Villa Student Takes Top Spot in AAF Buffalo’s Don Nichols Scholarship Competition for the 6th Consecutive Year
June 25, 2020: Kelsey Sikora, a sophomore graphic design student at Villa Maria College, was named the first-place winner of the 2020 Don Nichols Scholarship Competition. Her win marks the sixth consecutive year in which a Villa student has claimed the top spot. Read the full article here:

Strongest Animation Projects Receive Faculty Awards
July 1, 2020: Earlier this summer, Villa Maria’s Animation Department hosted its annual screening. In past years, animation students, faculty and staff, parents and friends and members of the community have gathered at a local theatre to view the work animation students created throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. This year, the event was live streamed on YouTube. While the setting was obviously different, the quality of work and excitement for the event was not. Read the full article here:

Junior Graphic Design Major Lindsay Neilson Wins AAF Buffalo’s Annual Portfolio Review
July 2, 2020: Earlier this summer, AAF Buffalo held its annual student portfolio review. The event, which was held online this year, gives current college students the opportunity to spend 20 minutes chatting with an advertising professional, asking questions and sharing their work. Read the full article here:

U.S News’ Top 2021 Best College Rankings Released; Villa Maria College Included Twice
September 21, 2020: U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in education rankings, today unveiled the 2021 U.S. News Best Colleges. For the first time in the College’s 40-year history, Villa Maria was included on two lists: Social Mobility and Best Regional College North. Read the full article here:

Photography Professors Laura Snyder and Michael Bosworth Display Work in Invitational Exhibit; Selected to Give Artist Talk at Exhibit Reception
October 15, 2020: The work of two of Villa Maria’s photography professors is on display in an Upstate New York invitational photography exhibition entitled “Continuing the Dialog: The State of Photography II.” Michael Bosworth and Laura Snyder are among 29 photography artists and educators whose work was selected for the exhibit, which is currently on display in the Arts Center Gallery at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. Read the full article here:

DJ Schier Wins Distinguished Service to the Profession Award by CPSA-NYS
October 29, 2020: Earlier this month, the College Student Personnel Association of New York State presented its Distinguished Service to the Profession Award. The award was presented to a professional with more than 10 years of experience who has contributed considerably to the higher education profession. Nominees must have made extensive efforts to impact change in student affairs practices in the State of New York through their work, mentorship, scholarship, research, consultation, presentations, and/or other involvements. Nominee or nominator must be a member of CSPA-NYS. The 2020 recipient was Villa Maria College’s Director of Student Affairs, DJ Schier. Read the full article here:

Fifth Annual #FallAtVilla Photo Contest Winners Announced
December 4, 2020: Throughout the month of November, Villa students snapped fall-themed photos and submitted them to the College’s annual photography contest. We received 75 submissions. All entries were reviewed by members of Parkway, one of the College’s digital partners: Project Manager Jenna Hutzler, Designer Dana Kochems, and Creative Lead Chris Reilley. Read the full article here:

Surviving the Pandemic One Photoshoot at a Time – An Interview with Alumna Heather Bellini, ’00
December 10, 2020: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced business owners across the nation to reimagine the ways in which their businesses operate, creatively considering how they can best accommodate their customers while following the stringent safety requirements that have been imposed upon them. One of those business owners is Heather Bellini White, an alumna of Villa Maria College’s photography program. Since her graduation in the year 2000, White has been busy building her business from a self-proclaimed “side hustle” to a well-established, full-service photography enterprise that provides a full suite of custom services for weddings and corporate events, professional headshots, families and more. Read the full article here: