Assumption President Announces Retirement
Board Chair Celebrates President Cesareo’s 15 Years of Leadership Including Transformation of the Campus, Academic Programs and Enrichment of University’s Catholic Identity
The Chair of Assumption University’s Board of Trustees, Francis J. Bedard, Esq., CPA '81, today announced that the institution’s 16th president, Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., has informed the Board that he will retire on June 30 of this year. Atty. Bedard cited several notable accomplishments realized under President Cesareo’s leadership, including the opening of an international campus in Rome, Italy; Assumption’s transition from college to university; successful fundraising; the introduction of several new academic programs; and strengthening the importance of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition within the curriculum.
President Cesareo announces his decision after successfully guiding the University through the pandemic and ensuring the health and safety of the Assumption community. He is also looking forward to moving closer to his family in the Philadelphia area and welcoming his first grandchild this summer. The Trustees will soon announce an interim leadership plan and commence a national search for the next president.
In the coming months, the University will recognize the many contributions President Cesareo made to the success and growth of Assumption.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we thank President Cesareo for his unwavering support and leadership of Assumption University for the past 15 years,” said Chairman Bedard. “Under President Cesareo’s leadership, Assumption’s academic profile has been strengthened, our mission has been enhanced and new academic programs have been launched. In addition, the Tsotsis Family Academic Center and the Richard J. and Sophia Catrambone Health Sciences Center were built to support the education of our students, enhancements were made to the Chapel, the Tinsley Campus Center was constructed, and an international campus in Rome, Italy opened which differentiates Assumption from other colleges and universities. The Board is grateful to Francesco and his family for the many sacrifices they made in service to the University. I would also like to recognize the faculty and staff of the University who have worked tirelessly to implement President Cesareo’s vision to strengthen Assumption.”
“For 15 years, Assumption University, its students, faculty, staff, alumni, and benefactors and their success have been a priority for me,” shared President Cesareo. “The last two years have been particularly demanding, but by leveraging the collective efforts of the University community, we successfully – and safely - led the community through the pandemic. I am especially proud of the energy placed in enhancing the rich, Catholic identity of Assumption and raising the academic profile of the institution, priorities of the Trustees when I assumed this position in July 2007. I look forward to assisting in the succession planning and transitioning to retirement as my family anticipates the arrival of our first grandchild.”
Since he was elected by the Board in February 2007, President Cesareo has demonstrated innovative leadership resulting in new academic programs such as cybersecurity, nursing, sport management, and more. He has established articulation agreements with national universities such as the University of Notre Dame, Washington University in St. Louis, Duke University, and the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
Among President Cesareo’s notable accomplishments are establishing a campus in Rome, Italy; raising nearly $77 million for the University since July 2007, including the highly successful Light the Way Capital Campaign that exceeded its goal; and transitioning the institution from a college to a university which included the creation of five separate schools: the D’Amour College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Froelich School of Nursing, Grenon School of Business, School of Graduate Studies, School of Health Professions.
Through his membership and leadership on several local and national boards, President Cesareo increased awareness and recognition of the University. He serves as a Commissioner for the New England Commission of Higher Education, is the Board President of the Sr. Thea Bowman Black Catholic Educational Foundation, and is the former Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' National Review Board. The recipient of the prestigious Fr. d’Alzon Medal, President Cesareo has been recognized as an individual whose faith and energy give witness to the validity and priority of spiritual values in an increasingly secular world and who courageously brings to bear in his daily life the life-giving message of Christ.
President Cesareo graduated summa cum laude from Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception and earned a master’s degree and doctorate from Fordham University in New York. A Fulbright Scholar who studied at the University of Rome and the Pontifical Gregorian University, he was appointed to the John J. and Mary Jane Breen Chair in Catholic Studies at John Carroll University where he was the founding director of the Institute of Catholic Studies (1997-2004) while serving as professor of history (1989-2004). Following John Carroll, President Cesareo served as Dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University (2004-2007).
“President Cesareo’s 15-year presidential term well exceeded the national average of college and university presidents,” added Chairman Bedard “The Trustees and I look forward to celebrating President Cesareo’s accomplishments in the coming months.”
Accomplishments of President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D.
- Second-longest serving president in the history of Assumption.
- Opening of a campus in Rome, Italy and teaching the Sophomore Initiative at Assumption (SOPHIA) students in the spring semester and leading them on a trip to Rome each May
- Creation of the first Strategic Plan in the history of the institution, followed by two more.
- New academic programs in highly relevant fields (e.g., nursing, neuroscience, cybersecurity, etc.)
- Innovative articulation agreements
- Washington University of St. Louis, University of Notre Dame
- Law Schools
- Duquesne University, University of St. Thomas School of Law, Vermont Law School, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
- Environmental Science
- Duke University
- Rapid growth of the University’s physical plant
- Securing Assumption’s Founding Partner status with the Worcester Red Sox
- Raising for the University a total of $76,788,195 since July 1, 2007
- Exceeding the goal of the $35 million Light the Way Capital Campaign by a significant amount
- Endowment growth from $68,857,283 in 2007 to $101,791,191 in May 2021
- Endowed Chairs: Cote, Distinguished Augustine Scholar, and D’Amour.
- Transitioning the institution from a college to a university
- Beginning phases of the development of a Pre-College and Early College program to recruit prospective students to Assumption