1935 – 2015 (March 8)
Edmund Joseph Dobbin was born on November 20, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York, one of four sons and a daughter of Edmund H. Dobbin and Anne V. Kelly, and was baptized on December 8, 1935 at Saint Anselm Church, Brooklyn. Later the family moved to Staten Island, where Edmund attended Saint Clare Parish School, from 1941 to 1949, and Augustinian Academy as a day student, from 1949 to 1953. Following graduation, he was received into the Order as a novice on September 9, 1953, and after a year at Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York, he professed simple vows on September 10, 1954. He attended Villanova University, from 1954 until 1958, received his BA in Philosophy, and professed solemn vows on September 10, 1957. From 1958 until 1962 he continued studies at Augustinian College, Washington DC, and received an MA in Theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on February 10, 1962, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, by Bishop Phillip Hannan.
Father Dobbin was assigned to Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania, where, from 1962 to 1967, he served as teacher, disciplinarian, and Chairman of the Mathematics Department. During this time he completed an MA in Mathematics and Physics at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. In 1967 he received an STL from the Catholic University of America, and attended the University of Louvain, Belgium, where he received an STD in 1971. He returned to the United States that same year and was assigned to Augustinian College, Washington, where he taught Systematic Theology until 1987. Father Dobbin served various terms as a member of the Board of Trustees at Villanova University, and Merrimack College, and was a member of the Provincial Council. In the summer of 1987, he was assigned to Saint Thomas Monastery, where he served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Villanova. He was elected President of Villanova University in 1988 and held that position until 2006, becoming the longest serving President in the university’s history. During his tenure he heightened awareness of the Augustinian character of the University, significantly increased the school's endowment, and embarked on an expansion of the campus, its facilities and its programs.
After stepping down as President of Villanova, Father remained a member of the Villanova Monastery community and returned to his chosen field as a professor of theology until failing health made it necessary for him to retire from the classroom, which he did with great reluctance. "Teaching was always my first love," he said. "Nothing is more gratifying than being in a classroom and connecting with a student."
Father Dobbin died on March 8, 2015 at the Villanova Monastery at the age of 79, after an illness of several months. The Mass of Christian burial was celebrated on Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the Church of St. Thomas of Villanova, by Prior Provincial Michael F. Di Gregorio, O.S.A. Father Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., President of Villanova University, was the homilist. Following the funeral Mass Father Dobbin was interred in the Community Cemetery on campus.