Assumption Announces Naming of D’Amour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Honor of Local Philanthropists Donald and Michele D’Amour 

Sep. 14, 2020
Photo of Don and Michele D'Amour for whom the Assumption University D'Amour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is named

In recognition of their generous gift to Assumption and history of steadfast support of the institution, the University has announced the official naming of one of its five new schools, the D’Amour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in honor of Assumption alumnus Donald and Michele D’Amour. Donald, a 1960 Assumption Prep grad and a 1964 graduate of Assumption College, and Michele, both of whom received honorary degrees from Assumption in 2010 and served on the Board of Trustees, are longtime supporters of the University. 

“The D’Amour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is our largest school and one through which all students take courses as part of the University’s comprehensive and influential core curriculum,” said Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., president of Assumption University. “Assumption’s Catholic liberal arts education provides students with a strong intellectual foundation and the skills needed to deepen and explore their sense of purpose and vocation. The D’Amours’ gift will enhance our mission to deliver a quality, personalized education to students in an environment that fosters an appreciation for timeless questions regarding the common good, the dignity of the human person, the pursuit of truth, and the cultivation of prudential judgment. We are grateful to Donald and Michele for their storied support of Assumption and belief in the value of a Catholic liberal education as embodied in the institution’s mission and transmitted to our students.”

In 2008, the D’Amours made a historic $4.2 million gift to Assumption—the largest in the institution’s history. More than half of this generous contribution was used to establish the Donald and Michele D'Amour Chair in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, while the rest endowed a distinguished speakers program, increased the endowment for the Fortin/Gonthier Foundations of Western Civilization Program (now Core Texts & Enduring Questions Program, with which the D’Amours are also heavily involved), and established a faculty development grant fund. Since then, Donald and Michele have continued to support the enhancement and expansion of Assumption’s unique liberal arts education in a variety of capacities, including through the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence, which was established to enhance the quality of teaching in higher education by supporting professors across all departments; the D’Amour Student Fellows program, which invites some of Assumption’s most advanced students to help inform the work and extend the reach of the DCTE; and through the Michele and Donald D'Amour Humanitas Award, which is presented to a student who is completing, and has excelled in, the Core Texts and Enduring Questions minor. The Donald and Michele D’Amour Plaza outside of the state-of-the-art Tsotsis Family Academic Center is also a recognition of their generous support of Assumption’s Capital Campaign, Light the Way. 

“Our support of Assumption reflects our belief, and the University’s, in the transcendent importance of the questions posed by Catholic liberal education,” said Donald and Michele D’Amour. “Fewer institutions of higher education are asking these questions. Assumption makes them the basis of its enduring effort to form students enlivened by the pursuit of truth, the harmony of faith and reason, and the dignity of the human person. The world around us changes. These questions persist. That is why an Assumption education remains permanently relevant, and it is why we are proud to support the D’Amour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.” 

Assumption’s D’Amour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides students with a strong foundation in Catholic liberal education. Regardless of major, all students take core courses within the College as part of a cross-disciplinary approach. The College is home to 26 majors, including the newest programs in cybersecurity and neuroscience, as well as majors in the traditional arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The College provides students the opportunity to explore fundamental questions of human existence while improving the skills of reading, writing, and thinking required to live lives of meaning and purpose. 

The D'Amour family is known for founding Big Y supermarkets; Donald is the retired chairman of the board and CEO while Michele previously served as the company’s educational partnership administrator. Though known for their business success, the D’Amours have also been recognized for their philanthropic support of many charitable organizations and their passionate dedication to supporting, developing, and providing educational programming. In 2012, the couple were named Outstanding Philanthropists by Western Massachusetts Association of Fundraising Professionals. In addition to their support of Assumption, the D’Amours’ philanthropy has extended to the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield; the Community Music School of Springfield; Springfield Rescue Mission; the D’Amour Cancer Center in Springfield; the Pope Francis Preparatory School in Springfield; and the California-based Parents Television Council.

Donald, who served as a member of the Assumption Board of Trustees from 1991-99, received his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. Michele received her B.A. from Westfield State College and her M.Ed. from American International College in Springfield. She served as Trustee from 2015-19 and currently serves on the Advisory Board for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Assumption’s D’Amour College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the second of Assumption’s five schools to be named, joining the Grenon School of Business.