Alumna Nance Dicciani Helps Launch Campaign for New Innovation Center


WYNCOTE, Pa., April 2, 2019 – Ancillae-Assumpta Academy, based in Wyncote, Pa. and sponsored by the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has received a $1 million gift from Nance K. Dicciani, PhD, retired president and chief executive officer of the Specialty Materials Division, Honeywell International, Inc.  The gift – the largest in Ancillae-Assumpta Academy’s history – provides a foundation for the $5 million capital campaign, “Engineering Our Future”, including a complete renovation of the current Handmaid Center.  Ms. Dicciani is a 1965 graduate of Ancilla Domini Academy (ADA), the former girls’ high school also sponsored by The Handmaids.

The milestone gift contributes to the launch of “Engineering Our Future, The Campaign for Ancillae-Assumpta Academy.”  The capital campaign focuses on the Academy’s strategic priorities including advancement in engineering, the sciences, and its Resource Learning program.  The planned renovation will include an Innovation Lab, three science laboratories and adjacent prep spaces, a digital production studio, six new Resource Learning instructional areas and patio space to further enhance the Academy’s existing Outdoor Classroom facilities.

Dicciani presented the gift this afternoon at the Academy and was honored at a special school-wide assembly called in her name.  She spoke to the audience of gathered students, faculty, staff, Board members, and parents. 

“My Handmaid education was a significant factor in preparing me for the wonderful professional career I have had and continue to have,” said Dicciani.  “Apart from my parents, two of my high school teachers – Mother Jane Anderson and Mother Pilar Ymaz – encouraged me to continue my studies when most young girls my age were not attending college, much less pursuing the sciences.  I am so pleased to be able to support the future of Ancillae-Assumpta Academy in this way and, as a scientist, am excited by the potential that this new Handmaid Innovation Center has to provide students with new and important learning opportunities.”

The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Dicciani was named by Forbes as one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” in both 2004 and 2005, as well as being named one of the “Top 40 Most Important People in the Chemical Industry” by Chemical Business in 2006. She was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; is a Former Member, Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society; and Former Vice President and Executive Committee Member of the Society of Chemical Industry.

Dicciani retired from her position as president and chief executive officer of Honeywell International’s Specialty Materials Division in 2008 after serving in the position for seven years. Prior to joining Honeywell in 2001, Dicciani was Senior Vice President and Business Group Executive of Chemical Specialties, and the Director of the European Region for Rohm and Haas, where she also directed operations in the Middle East and Africa.  During her tenure at Rohm and Haas, she also served as Vice President of the Petroleum Chemicals Division and headed the company’s worldwide monomers business.  She also held positions in engineering, research, commercial development, and business management at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., where she worked for nearly 14 years.

Dicciani demonstrated the breadth and scope of her leadership skills and interests early on, participating in twelve different activities in her high school career, including four sports, dramatics, Glee Club, Youth Corp and serving as yearbook editor and Student Council president.  After graduating with honors, she went on as one of only a few women to enroll in Villanova University’s College of Engineering program.  After receiving her B.S. degree in 1969, Dicciani obtained her MS degree from the University of Virginia, before beginning her professional career.  Later, she earned her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an MBA from the university’s Wharton Business School as part of its two-year executive program.

She was awarded the 2019 St. Thomas of Villanova Medal, the highest recognition of the alumni association of Villanova University.  Dicciani also was given the 2018 Doing-a-World-of-Good Medal from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.  She was a recipient of the Henry F. Whalen, Jr. Award from the American Chemical Society; the J. Stanley Morehouse Memorial Award, as well as the Professional Achievement Award from Villanova University’s College of Engineering; and the Achievement Award from the Society of Women Engineers. Dicciani also was named the Warren K. Lewis Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003.

Dicciani has been a consistent and generous supporter of Ancillae-Assumpta Academy through the years.  She has established four commemorative scholarships at the school, including two in the names of the Handmaid sisters who taught her.

“We are so grateful to Nance Dicciani and her long-standing commitment to this school, but today, especially, to the example she sets for our students and in truly ‘engineering our future’,” said Amy Lintner, Director of Ancillae-Assumpta Academy.  “She paves the way for generations of students at the Academy to learn in flexible and inclusive environments that promote personalization, collaboration, and experimentation.  Ancillae’s curriculum, faculty, and instruction are unparalleled.  Thanks to Nance’s generous gift, we will now have an exceptional facility that likewise rises to those heights.”

The only Handmaid-sponsored school in the United States, Ancillae-Assumpta Academy is a private, co-educational, Catholic elementary school (grades preschool through eight). It is the only elementary school in Pennsylvania to be named a National Blue Ribbon School recipient four times, including in 2018.  The Academy has been named an Apple Distinguished School for a second term (2018-2021) for its integration of technology across the curriculum and for its broad application in daily school life.