Villanova Held Focus Groups On Proposed Project
People who lived close to the school were asked for their feedback on Villanova.
Villanova University held two focus groups of people who lived near the school on Monday, June 11, and asked them questions on the university's proposed project for new dorms, retail and a parking structure.
According to a resident who was a participant in one of the groups, which were held in an office in Bala Cynwyd, the group of ten people was video taped and audio taped and sat in a room with a one-way glass mirror.
What was interesting, said Nelson Dayton, who lives very close to the campus, is that when he was called on the phone five days prior for prequalification, he was asked questions about Radnor.
"At that point I had no indication about Villanova... I thought it was going to be about Radnor Township," Dayton said.
As he and the others were gathered in waiting room chatting, it became apparent the one thing they had in common — they all live close to Villanova.
Dayton said he was paid $125 for his two hours in the focus group.
When asked about the focus groups, the university released a statement, saying that it "regularly engages internal and external constituencies, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, prospective students and local residents, to gauge opinions on any number of issues."
"Whether it’s through meetings, events, research surveys or informal discussions, Villanova values the feedback offered by its stakeholders," the statement continued.
When asked if the focus groups were in lieu of community meetings that the university said it would hold with neighbors over the controversial building proposal, the school said "Villanova is committed to holding additional community meetings."
Dayton said the focus group participants were asked "all kind of questions" like what they thought about the university, its students, their communication efforts and the particular project.
Neighbor Kevin Geary, who was not a member of a focus group, said "Villanova wants to sell us a package of goods instead of putting forth a responsible plan."
"When Radnor residents start seeing TV ads or glossy mailers saying how great they are remember that instead of Villanova conducting open community meetings like they said they were going to do, they held secretive high priced focus groups in Bala Cynwyd," he said.
One long-reaching thing that has Dayton worried about the proposal, he said, is that Radnor Township is not a college town.
"We don’t want it to be a college town," he said. "We want it to be a neighborhood community with good colleges.”