Skip to main content

Villa Maria College Welcomes Students to Renovated Commons Made Possible by Russell J. Salvatore

By September 8, 2022Press Release

Opening for the Fall 2022 semester, Villa Maria College welcomes students to the completely redeveloped and enhanced dining hall and commons area. The redevelopment was made possible by a major donation from local restauranteur, civic leader and philanthropist, Russell J. Salvatore. The $1 million capital improvement project is called The Russell J. Salvatore Commons.

“When the first students entered the redeveloped Commons, I realized we did more than renovate the dining hall, we created a centerpiece for our campus,” said Dr. Matthew Giordano, president, Villa Maria College. “We join together to thank Mr. Salvatore for turning our 61-year-old dining hall into what is now the heart of our campus. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish together for our students.”

“Seeing tangible impact in people’s lives is why I love giving. When I saw students enjoying the space for the first time, I knew we did something right. I’m thrilled to have made possible a space for the students to learn and gather,” said Russell J. Salvatore. “I’ve always said that when I die, I hope to have nothing left, to have given it all away. This community is my home and making it better is my passion. I’m proud to support Villa Maria.”

The former iteration of the dining hall was designed and built in 1961 and is original to the College. The impact of Mr. Salvatore’s contribution is felt beyond physical updates, it provides a modern and innovative space for students. The Russell J. Salvatore Commons was designed to be warm and welcoming for all students, faculty, and staff. It offers over 10,000 square feet of space to eat, study, and gather socially. Highlights of the Commons include:

  • Study booths that allow students to focus on their coursework in a shared space
  • Video game area where students can unwind by plugging in console gaming, laptops, or watch TV
  • Recreational area with ping pong and pool that allows students to bond and encourages camaraderie
  • A variety of seating styles and options for small and large groups, including couches, lounge chairs, ottomans, and more
  • Special attention was given to the room’s acoustics to accommodate all types of student projects and events
  • Foliage that creates a calm, serene, and beautiful environment and helps people to stay focused, productive, and energized
  • Large, state-of-the art message board to share important campus information and publicize upcoming events
  • The addition of the Spirit Shop, where College apparel and basic supplies can be purchased conveniently

For more information about Villa Maria College’s dining hall renovation, please visit