Citing Innovative Leadership and Growth of Institution, Trustees Grant President Cesareo Five-Year Contract Extension

May 4, 2020
Office of Communications
President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D. speaking at Commencement.

As Assumption College begins the process of formally transitioning to university status, the institution’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to renew the contract of President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., citing his innovative leadership during a challenging period for higher education, the expansion of academic programs and facilities, and successful fundraising. 

This is President Cesareo’s third, five-year contract extension, which was granted by the Trustees at their meeting in February and announced now following a semester during which Assumption leadership was focused on responding to the pandemic.

“Recognizing this as a challenging period for higher education, Assumption has thrived under Francesco’s steadfast leadership as the institution continues to form individuals who use their knowledge and gifts to impact the world in a profound and meaningful way,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Francis J. Bedard, Esq., CPA '81. “The Trustees are impressed by the vision created and realized by Francesco such as the expansion of in-demand academic programs, the addition of new academic facilities and his commitment to, and embracing, Assumption’s Catholic identity and the importance of the liberal arts. We are also grateful to Francesco for leading a proactive and effective response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The Trustees and I look forward to our continued collaboration with Francesco as he leads the transition of Assumption College to Assumption University.”

President Cesareo began serving as President on July 1, 2007.  Since 2007, more than $68 million was raised through annual giving, a project-based campaign and the current capital campaign. The impressive fundraising for Assumption has provided funds for student scholarships; faculty chairs and research; and the construction of the Tinsley Campus Ministry Center, state-of-the-art Tsotsis Family Academic Center and the new Health Sciences Building

“Assumption is a special community dedicated to instilling in students both knowledge and a sense of purpose,” said President Cesareo. “I am thankful to the Board of Trustees for their continued confidence in our ambitious vision for the institution and to the faculty and staff who work tirelessly to educate and serve our students. It is an honor to lead this institution, a leading, Catholic institution of higher learning that integrates the liberal arts with professional education.”

Under President Cesareo, Assumption has introduced new majors in actuarial science, addiction counseling, applied behavioral analysis, criminology, cybersecurity, data analytics, education, health sciences, neuroscience, nursing, physician assistant studies (graduate program), sport management, and an MBA in healthcare management.

In September 2019, Assumption’s ever-growing number of exemplary academic programs were enhanced and reorganized under a new school structure.  This innovative proposal, spearheaded by President Cesareo, created five different schools, each led by a dean, so that the institution may continue to evolve to meet the academic needs of students. The new schools include the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Grenon School of Business; School of Graduate and Professional Studies; School of Health Professions; and the Froelich School of Nursing. The new school structure was implemented in anticipation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s approval of Assumption’s application to become a university. The transition to Assumption University will take place in June of this year.

Fulfilling Assumption’s commitment to make the pursuit of a college degree more affordable for students and families, President Cesareo encouraged faculty to forge academic partnerships. These partnerships provide students unique opportunities – and some with guaranteed scholarships - to achieve an undergraduate and advanced degrees with more convenience, at a lower cost, and in a shorter period of time. 

At President Cesareo’s direction, the institution signed articulation agreements with a number of prestigious academic institutions across the country including Duke University, Duquesne University, Northeastern University, University of Notre Dame, Washington University in St. Louis and more. These partnerships allow Assumption students to pursue advanced degrees in biotechnology, chiropractic, engineering, environmental science, health professions, history, law, marine science, medicine, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, podiatry, political science, and regulatory and clinical research. 

He also signed an agreement with the Worcester Red Sox to become one of the team’s 21 Founding Partners, a designation that will provide several experiential learning opportunities to students and provide Assumption a highly visible presence in downtown when the team relocates to Worcester next year. 

Under President Cesareo, the diversity of the student body has significantly improved. Since 2007, the number of African American, Latino American, Asian American and Native American Identities (ALANA) students has increased from eight to 20 percent. He also established a Presidential Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Diversity with an ardent belief that cultural and racial diversity contributes to a higher quality of campus life as “the intellectual enterprise is enhanced by the dialogue of varied and diverse viewpoints, providing the promise of new energy and new ways of thinking.” 

As the demographics of Assumption change, and the student population becomes more diverse, so must the services and opportunities provided to students to meet these evolving needs. 

In July 2019, President Cesareo established the Division for Student Success under a cabinet level Vice President to focus on student achievement in all of its dimensions across the institution's many departments and divisions to enhance academic success, retention, persistence to graduation and employability. Among the many initiatives housed in the Division is the Cross-Cultural Center, the new Director of ALANA and First Generation Student Success as well as the Center for Purpose and Vocation that supports students in building strong character and helping them to lead a meaningful and purposeful life.

In 2013, realizing President Cesareo’s vision to provide a unique study abroad experience, the institution opened a campus in Rome, Italy, where the city and country become a living classroom for Assumption students. The program is also a critical component of SOPHIA (SOPHomore Initiative at Assumption), a special initiative that encourages students to find a deeper connection between their spiritual and religious commitments and their personal and professional lives. 

Through his service on a number of high-profile and influential boards, President Cesareo has enhanced the reputation and awareness of Assumption throughout the country. Some of the many boards he serves on include New England Commission of Higher Education, Commissioner; St. John’s Seminary, Trustee; Adopt-a-Student Steering Committee, Diocese of Worcester; and Greater Worcester Community Foundation, Corporator. He serves as chair of a number of boards including the NE-10 Athletic Conference President’s Council; Higher Education Consortium of Central Massachusetts; Sr. Thea Bowman Black Catholic Educational Foundation Board; and The National Review Board, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

President Cesareo graduated from Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception and earned a master’s degree and doctorate from Fordham University. A Fulbright Scholar who studied at the University of Rome and the Pontifical Gregorian University, he has written two books and a number of scholarly articles on Catholic Reformation, 15th and 16th century Roman history and the Renaissance Papacy.