DiJulia Reflects on the First Year of His Second Act
Monday, June 24, 2019
by Jeffrey Martin '04, '05 (M.A.)
After spending 50 years in the same industry, including more than three decades in a singular job, it would be perfectly reasonable to expect someone to grab a stack of books, move to a tropical climate, and enjoy some well-earned rest.
But retirement doesn’t suit Don DiJulia ’67.
When he announced his intention to step away from his longtime role as vice president and director of athletics at the end of the 2018 academic year, DiJulia was not sure what his next step was going to be. But he knew there was going to be one.
“I wasn't ready to shut down completely,” he recalls. “I had to do something.”
DiJulia found his next project when University President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D., approached him with an opportunity to become a special assistant to the president. The position is one that many university presidents have on staff, and Reed knew that DiJulia was the right person to do that job for Saint Joseph’s.
“There are so many events that happen on a college campus on a daily basis that one person can’t possibly attend them all, no matter how much one wants to,” DiJulia explains. “My role is to help by being a representative to show support from the office.”
The position is far from ceremonial. DiJulia, who throughout his career in athletics was known for being a presence at many live games and matches, is relishing the opportunity to attend different types of events on campus and reporting the work back to University leadership.
“I’ve learned so much over the last year by going to research presentations and student-sponsored events,” he says. “I’m continually amazed at our faculty and staff’s commitment to making the student experience as rich, challenging and rewarding as it can be. It’s also gratifying to watch these young students develop into leaders and be everyday champions.”
Another benefit of DiJulia’s role is connecting the University’s tradition to its future.
“A lot has changed on campus since I was a student, and that’s something that all of our alumni experience,” he says. “But as eras shift and new faces join us, one thing remains constant, and that’s our mission as a collective group to take students in and help them learn and grow and to prepare them for a future where they are contributing to something larger than themselves.”
DiJulia’s goal for the next year of his new role is to spread the message as wide as he can.
“I want to be more intentional in my approach to reaching out to people and reconnecting them to Saint Joseph’s,” he shares. “I want to talk to people whose relationship to this place has lapsed and get them to be actively excited about all the great things that are going on here.”