The family that founded the Big Y supermarket chain now has a college building named after them.
Assumption University, based in Worcester, Massachusetts, has named one of its five new schools as 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 family founded the food retailer in 1936. Donald is the retired chairman of the board and CEO, while Michele previously served as the company’s educational partnership administrator.
“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, president of Assumption University. “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.”
In 2008, the D’Amours made a $4.2 million gift to Assumption, the largest in the institution’s history. More than half of this 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, the two 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.”
One of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England, Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y operates 83 locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, including 71 supermarkets, Fresh Acres Market, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors, and 10 Big Y Express gas and convenience locations, with almost 12,000 employees. The company is No. 72 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.