Stephen Knott, Ph.D. ’79
Stephen received the College's Outstanding Achievement Award in 2009. He is an associate professor of National Security Studies at the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI. He published his fourth book, At Reagan's Side: Insiders' Recollections from Sacramento to the White House, in 2009, which he co-authored with Jeffrey Chidester.
From the spring 2006 issue of Assumption Magazine:
By Troy Watkins
In May 1979, Stephen Knott ’79 sat with his classmates and listened intently to Senator Edward Kennedy’s Assumption College commencement address. Steve undoubtedly wondered where his life would lead him. Who knew that it would converge with the life of his commencement speaker?
Today, Dr. Stephen Knott is associate professor and research fellow for the Miller Center of Public Affairs’ Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia. He oversees the Ronald Reagan Oral History Project (which was released to the public in February) and is team leader of the Edward M. Kennedy Project. He also participates in the George H.W. Bush and William J. Clinton Projects. Safe to say that he’s come full circle, or maybe, in a sense, back to where he started—listening intently to Senator Kennedy.
A native of Paxton, MA, Steve attended Assumption based on a recommendation about its Politics Department. Interested in politics and history at an early age, he decided to major in Politics and was not disappointed. “I was the beneficiary of a life-altering liberal arts education whose legacy resonates with me to this day,” he said about his time at Assumption.
Steve admitted being challenged from the start by former Politics Professors Chris Wolfe, Patrick Powers ’64, and the late Jack Crutcher. He also appreciated other professors. “Angela Dorenkamp HD’95 taught me how to write; Ken Moynihan AP’62 nurtured my love of history; Fr. Richard Richards, A.A. ’46 taught me to appreciate the Fine Arts; John Burke HD’97 and George Doyle HD’92 exposed me to new areas of interest; and the Politics professors challenged a number of preconceived notions I held about the best way one should live their life,” he said.
“I learned how to write, how to think ‘critically,’ and not in the way that term is bandied about by today’s education schools. My Assumption professors challenged me to step back from, to step outside of, the world I lived in, in Central Massachusetts, which is what a liberal arts education is all about. I learned that ideas were important, that ideas have consequences for our everyday lives, although we may not always notice. And finally, I learned that there were certain truths that were not defined by time or place, or popular opinion.”
Steve also spent a one-semester internship in Washington, DC, working for a small interest group. This was in the days long before 9-11, so the city was highly accessible. “I remember seeing Anwar Sadat on Capitol Hill—he was in Washington for the signing of the Camp David Accords,” he recalled. “My experience in DC served to whet my appetite about American politics.”
Overall, Steve cherishes his Assumption education and experience. “I have nothing but fond memories of Assumption,” he explained. “I’ve maintained friendships with several classmates, and we often get together and reminisce about our time together.”
Steve’s career included a six-year stint at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, where he met many of the people who are now being interviewed by the Miller Center for the Edward Kennedy Project. Steve taught American Politics at the University of New Hampshire, Boston College, and Quinnipiac University, before a seven-year tenure as associate professor of political science at the United States Air Force Academy.
In 2001, he jumped at the opportunity to join the Miller Center. “I love studying the presidency, and this position allows me to interview some fascinating people, and help preserve their recollections for history,” he stated. “Our interview sessions, many of which last for a day and a half, are designed to capture for the historical record a picture of each presidency seen through the eyes of those on the ‘inside.’ We have often discovered that the press accounts of an administration, while they may provide a ‘first draft’ of history, are incomplete. So in addition to filling in the gaps in the documentary record we also try to fill in the gaps left by the media.”
The Miller Center is the only institution in the country doing this work, as the National Archives and the various Presidential Libraries no longer conduct oral histories. The histories on the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton presidencies are funded in part by the respective presidential library foundations. The Miller Center maintains its scholarly independence from them, but the interview transcripts are ultimately housed both at the Miller Center and at the respective presidential library.
Without these recollections from key people in each administration, the information might be forever lost. “Official documents have never told the entire story, and that is truer today,” Steve said. “A former White House chief of staff recently told us that in light of increasing demands for information from Congress and from special prosecutors, he ‘stopped writing anything down’ and ‘didn’t keep any written notes.’ This, coupled with the advent of e-mail and the cell phone means that future generations of historians and political scientists would have a difficult time piecing the story together without these oral recollections.”
Steve has interviewed many cabinet members and officers, as well as congressional and foreign leaders during his tenure. “For many of our interviewees, giving their oral history can be an emotional experience. On more than one occasion I’ve had to stop an interviewee to regain their composure-for many of them their time in the White House was the best years of their lives,” he said. “My experience with both Democratic and Republican interviewees has reaffirmed my faith in the American system, as naïve as that sounds these days. Most of our interviewees have impressed me with their intelligence and their devotion to the public good. They are not caricatured public servants that one hears repeatedly portrayed on talk radio.”
The Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project is a new venture for the Miller Center, which is now engaging in comprehensive oral histories of major American legislative figures. The Kennedy Project is scheduled to last another 5 years, and 38 individuals have been interviewed to date, including the Senator on 8 separate occasions. “It’s a fascinating project, and for me it is all the more so because of my attachment to and affection for Massachusetts,” Steve said.
In his “spare” time, Steve teaches politics courses at the University of Virginia and he has written three books: The Reagan Years; Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth; and Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency. Steve joked, “The only downside is that this has really done a number on my tennis game. Since I travel for so many of these oral history interviews, I can never find the time to play on the road. That’s my only ‘complaint.’ But, overall, my position at the Miller Center has exceeded my wildest expectations, and I couldn’t be happier.”
To find out more about the Kennedy Family legacy at Assumption, please visit www.assumption.edu/kennedy.
Tom received the College's Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008, shortly after serving as chair of the prestigious NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Committee. He was honored as the Southeast Division Athletic Director of the Year in 2007, one of just 29 athletic directors to be honored in North America. He and wife Barbara have four children and eight grandchildren and reside in Fairfax, VA.
From the winter 2008 issue of Assumption Magazine:
Have you ever filled out an NCAA bracket, for fun of course, in an effort to predict which team will win the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament? If you do so this year, some of the colleges you pick will appear on the bracket due to Tom O’Connor ’68. Assistant vice president/director of athletics at George Mason University (Fairfax, VA), this year Tom will chair the 10-member Men’s Basketball Championship Committee, deciding which colleges to invite to participate. Tom will manage and run Committee meetings and serve as a media representative. Last year, he served as vice-chair of the Committee. He is the first chair of the committee from a non-football member institution.
For 12 years he has served as AD at GMU, after similar positions at three other colleges, preceded by two stints of coaching men’s basketball. In June, Tom received the Southeast Division AD of the Year award from the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors for his commitment and positive contributions to his campus and its surrounding community. Only 29 athletic directors were honored from more than 1,600 institutions in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Under his guidance, GMU was one of the nation’s first 15 schools to complete the NCAA certification process. As a result, GMU perennially ranks among the nation’s best in the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act survey.
A four-time Associated Press all-New England selection on some of Assumption’s most successful basketball teams, Tom scored 1,121 points to finish his career as the third-leading scorer in the College’s history (currently 25th). He was inducted into AC’s Alumni/Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. Tom served on Assumption’s Athletics Capital Campaign Committee for the Multi-Sport Stadium and is a member of the Washington, DC Area Regional Alumni Club. He and wife Barbara have four children and eight grandchildren, and reside in Fairfax, VA.
Tex received the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2007. Born in Laconia, NH and raised in Lewiston, ME, this Assumption Prep and College alumnus received his J.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1965. Tex passed the Maine Bar in 1965 and practiced law in the Honors Program of the U.S. Department of Justice (1965-66). He taught law at the Catholic University of America from (1966-71) and has been a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame since 1971. Tex most recently served as chair of the Faculty Board on Athletics and as Notre Dame’s NCAA faculty athletics representative – both since 2000, and received the President’s Award from president Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C. as a “superb teacher, scholar and administrator in the law school.” During his tenure at UND, Tex has also served in administrative positions, including assistant dean, association dean, and acting dean. Tex and wife Brigid have two children and reside in South Bend, Indiana.
The Honorable Jay Garcia-Gregory received the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2006. He is a federal judge in the U.S. District Court, District of Puerto Rico and is believed to be the first Assumption alumnus to be appointed and confirmed by the Senate as a federal judge. He was confirmed in 2000 upon President Clinton’s nomination. Prior to his judicial appointment, Jay worked at the Puerto Rico-based law firm Fiddler, Gonzalez & Rodriguez for 27 years, with the last 11 years spent as partner.
Roselly received the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2005. She was elected to the College’s Board of Trustees in 2006. A native of Puerto Rico who earned an MBA from Harvard University, she has been called one of the most powerful women in global investment banking. She has worked in Asia, Europe, the United States, and Latin America for Merrill Lynch, Bankers Trust, and Dresdner Bank, where she managed global businesses. Most recently, Roselly was a managing director at Dresdner’s London office, where she managed over $1 billion in assets and 2,000 employees. She credits Assumption with helping her develop as a person. Currently serving on the bank’s Board of Directors, Roselly resides in Switzerland with her husband and young daughter.
Don received the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2004. He is the CEO of the southern New England grocery store chain Big Y Foods. The privately owned chain has 44 stores and employs more than 7,500 people. He believes that the teachers at Assumption College invest highly in their students. Don started at Big Y as a young boy and eventually held a number of positions within the company after graduating from Assumption. He was appointed chairman of the Big Y Foods’ Board in 1997.
In May 2008, Don and wife Michele made an historic gift of $4.2 million to the College to establish the Donald and Michele D'Amour Chair in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, endowed an annual lecture in the Catholic Intellectual Life; increased the endowment they had established for the Fortin and Gonthier Foundations of Western Civilization Program and established a new faculty development grant fund. It is the largest gift in the College's history.
In October 2008, the D'Amours were presented with a President's Medal from Assumption President Francesco Cesareo, in recognition of their commitment to Assumption and its Catholic liberal arts education.
In May 2010, the D'Amours were awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the annual Commencement exercises.
The D'Amours were featured in the winter 2007 issue of Assumption College Magazine:
While some College grads are able to say that they had one professor who really had an impact on their life,” said Donald D’Amour AP’60, ’64 , “in my case there were several! Fr. Denys Gonthier, A.A. ’44 and Fr. Ernest Fortin, A.A. ’46 , in particular, were dedicated teachers that had a great deal of influence on me and numerous other students.” In October, Don and his wife, Michele, pledged $1.5 million to Assumption College to rename and expand the Fortin/Gonthier Foundations of Western Civilization Program It allowed the College to surpass its $30 million goal for The Centennial Campaign and it is the largest gift from an individual in College history.
A former member of Assumption’s Board of Trustees, Don is the chairman of the board and CEO of Big Y Foods, Inc., a family-owned and operated grocery chain with 9,000 employees and 54 stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 2004, Don received the Fr. Louis Dion, A.A. ’35 Outstanding Achievement Award from Assumption’s Alumni Association.
Michele, who holds a Master of Education from American International College, is Big Y’s educational partnership administrator. She oversees the Company’s Homework Hotline and works on its Education Express and Scholarship programs (see details below). Together, the D’Amours, along with many members of their family, run one of the largest independent grocery store chains in New England.
Don grew up in western MA and went to school locally at French- Canadian parishes. He earned a small scholarship toward tuition at Assumption Prep through a scholarship exam he took in eighth grade. “I had never been away from home for a weekend, but I ended up at Assumption Prep,” he recalled. “Sputnik came along when I was at the Prep, and the School received funding from the National Science Foundation. I got excited about the new courses in math and science, so I was taking college-level courses at Holy Cross College through the Prep School and I decided to attend Holy Cross.”
So how did Don end up at Assumption College? “By force,” he quipped. Don hadn’t applied to Assumption by the early summer, when his father took him to visit a cousin, Ernest D’Amours AP’23 , who was the attorney general for the state of New Hampshire. ‘Where are you going to college?’ Ernest asked. ‘Holy Cross,’ said Don. ‘No you’re not,’ Ernest replied. “I was told that for a variety of reasons that I was going to Assumption. So I made a pact that I would go to Assumption and take math courses at Holy Cross (Assumption didn’t have a math major).” The pact lasted into just one summer school session. “Calculus did me in and I decided to pursue other areas,” Don said.
Don is grateful for his Assumption Prep and College education and experience. “It was a fun place,” he said. “I was involved in a lot of activities, including the Drama Club, where I did a lot of acting.” Fr. Ernest and Fr. Denys had a lasting impact on him. “Someone joked with me recently that Fr. Denys taught you how to write and Fr. Ernest taught you how to think,” he explained. “There is probably some truth to that. Fr. Denys taught us French, in French. He had the benefit of having several students there that were bilingual so that we weren’t learning our ABCs, we were studying French literature. He was an extremely challenging professor who would get us thinking to get us to fully appreciate what an author was trying to say. “Fr. Ernest picked up from there. He was, perhaps, more of a scholar who taught several philosophy courses. Fr. Ernest was a highly respected scholar in the Christian tradition and went on to teach at Boston College (1971–98). He had a stroke and passed away in 2003. Both professors had an intense interest in their students, had a tremendous depth of knowledge and were passionate about what they did. They got us to decide which direction we wanted our lives to take and really guided us along that path very carefully.”
Michele has been involved over the years with the Springfield Diocesan school system to take part in various studies to see how the schools can survive and grow. “We are not only corporately and personally dedicated to education,” said Michele, “but to Catholic education. Assumption students have a wonderful sense of community. They can communicate. They can have a relaxed relationship with the faculty and staff, and our focus on the Foundations Program aligns with our wish for and our work toward getting Catholic colleges to strengthen their core mission of being Catholic colleges. So, to be able to do this in the names of Frs. Fortin and Gonthier is special for both of us, but especially for Don who was greatly affected by both of those men.”
When asked how they met Michele explained, “I was in high school and planned to work my way through college. I needed a job to do that, so I bothered a local Big Y manager until he hired me and worked my way through mid-high school and college at Big Y. Don was busy at Notre Dame working on his doctoral thesis and would come in and do a small job here and there around the holidays. He asked me out on a date, we went out once, and we didn’t have another one for three months. Don’s father came into the store where I was working one day and told me how terrific Don is and went on and on … and I guess I listened to him. We were married on my semester break during my senior year in college (1973) and quickly had five children—Michael, Nicole, Mathieu, Philip, and Danielle—and then I went back to school for my master’s degree.”
Don earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame, which has helped him along the way. “There’s a mental training and a discipline that is involved in that exposure, especially an awareness of human nature and the frailty,” Don said. “I think those are the two most important areas that help on the business end, and many business grads don’t benefit from that kind of liberal arts background. When you are dealing with some of the weighty issues in philosophy—such as ‘who we are’ and ‘why we’re here’—the smaller, business challenges that arise don’t seem so difficult in comparison.”
The D’Amours believe that this is an important time in Assumption’s history. Don explained, “Dr. Plough came to us and explained that the College needs to provide distinctive offerings, such as the Foundations Program. He has also done a wonderful job in bringing Assumption to a solid footing, both financially and in terms of infrastructure.” According to Don, with the College’s solid footing, its commitment to re-emphasize the Foundations Program and its search for a new president who can articulate the Catholic, liberal arts way of thinking, it creates a unique opportunity. “In addition,” he said, “the new president will also be challenged to hire a provost, which Assumption has not had for some time. It’s a very exciting time for the College.” Don is proud to be a member of the search committee for Assumption’s next president.
"The new president and provost have to be strong leaders and will need to work with the entire faculty to work toward that intellectual tradition that has been their history and have the intestinal fortitude to buck secular trends that are surrounding them which tend to draw a certain number of students. But they need to stay the course,” said Michele. Don added, “There’s this moment where Assumption is poised to resist that separation, that the most recent popes have talked about, between faith and reason, that has been the bane of several institutions including the mission drift of a lot of Catholic institutions. I believe the tensions between faith and reason—faith supporting reason and reason defending faith—are really opportunities for Assumption. The enthusiasm of the student body and the faculty has been incredible, as they are looking to expand and improve the level of academic programs and leadership. With that said, our advice is ‘seize the moment.’” With their generous assistance and support, Assumption College is poised to do so.
BIG Y FOODS, INC. It all started in 1936. At 30 years old, Paul D’Amour (Don’s father) was a bread route salesman for the Wonder Bread Baking Company. Full of entrepreneurial spirit, Paul pooled family resources and purchased the small Y Cash Market in Chicopee, MA, at the intersection where two roads converge to form a “Y.” Believing in personal service, the business and its reputation expanded. Paul’s brother, Gerald, joined the business, assisted by their two sisters.
In 1947, the business was incorporated, and Big Y Foods, Inc. was born. Also in 1947, the brothers opened a second and larger Y Cash Market. In 1952, they opened the first supermarket and sold off the two corner stores. In 1959, they opened the second supermarket—the oldest one that still exists in Northampton today. Don joined the business in 1969, one year after Michele. Don’s cousins joined the business in the ’70s, including Charles D’Amour AP’70 , Big Y’s COO/executive vice president and secretary. In 1981, the Big Y Scholarship program was introduced; six scholarships were awarded. Today, more than 200 merit-based scholarships are awarded each year. The Education Express program began in 1993. An electronic point-based program, it allows area schools to earn much needed educational equipment. As of May 2002, $7 million worth of equipment had been awarded to the more than 1,800 participating schools.
Big Y's Homework Helpline also began in 1993. It is a toll-free, one-on-one tutoring service for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Staffed by a highly qualified team of 25 certified teachers, the Helpline guides nearly 10,000 students through homework problems each year. The Helpline is launching an online component this month. These programs are financed by the generous donations of numerous corporate sponsors. “This sort of goes full circle,” Michele explained, “from both a corporate and personal philosophy that our focus is on education because without well-educated future customers or future employees the economy won’t thrive as it should, so it’s important for us to make sure those constituencies are well-educated.” Don reasoned, “Part of the key to our success is encouraging every employee to develop, in their skills.” Both in-house opportunities are available as well as tuition assistance. “We basically have a career plan for each employee,” Don continued. “During the employee’s review, we discuss which opportunities they wish to pursue. We support a lot of families.” Michele said, “One of the things were most proud of is that people like working here. It’s a family feel.” Don added, “They legitimately care for each other in good times and in bad.”
Fr. Wilfrid receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1974 and its Outstanding Achievement Award in 2003. His devotion and service to Assumption College are unparalleled. Fr. Wilfrid joined the Assumptionist order in 1929 and was ordained a priest in 1934. He began his Assumption career as a philosophy professor in 1934. Upon completion of further studies at Laval University, he returned to the College to teach for another seven years and became president in 1946, before being named the first provincial superior of the North American Assumptionists (1947-52) and later became the first American born Superior General of the Assumptionist Order (1952-69) and a voting member of Vatican II. He also served the College as acting president on two occasions, a member of the Board of Trustees for some 30 years, and chancellor of the College for 24 years. In 2003 he was named chancellor emeritus and an honorary trustee. He was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including honorary degrees from Anna Maria, Assumption (1970) and Rivier colleges; the Assumption Prep School Hall of Fame; and the Assumption College President’s Medal. Fr. Wilfrid passed away in 2004. A College residence hall, Dufault Hall, bears his name.
Moe received the College's Outstanding Achivement Award in 2001 for his tireless work as the president and chief executive officer of Youth Opportunities Upheld (YOU), Inc., a Worcester-based non-profit organization that provides a wide range of social, psychological, educational, vocational, and other preventive and rehabilitation programs for troubled and at-risk children, adolescents and families. Moe has led YOU, Inc. for 40 years. where he supervises a staff of more than 600 people and oversees the delivery of a broad range of therapeutic, educational, and residential services in Central Massachusetts. In 2009, YOU, Inc. served more than 21,000 children and families. He also provides legislative advocacy on behalf of youths. Moe was named Worcester Business Journal’s 2006 Business Leader of the Year–Non-profit and received the Greater Worcester Community Foundation's 2008 Renaissance Award.
One of the few individuals in College history with degrees from Assumption Prep, the College, and the Graduate School, he has also been an active alumnus, celebrating reunions from the Assumption Prep and the College and serving as an emcee at some of the events.
Moe was featured in the summer 2010 issue of Assumption College Magazine.
Judge Andre A. Gelinas '60 was one of two recipients of the College's Outstanding Achievement Award in 2000. He joined the family law practice in 1963 after earning his law degree at the University of Michigan Law School. He began his own judicial career as a special justice to the Fitchburg District Court in 1973 and served until 1979, when he was appointed justice. He served there until he was appointed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court in 1999 and retired in 2008. He serves as special advisor to the chief justice for administration and management for information technology. Assumption awarded him an honorary degree in 1983, becoming the first father and son to be so honored by the College.
In June 2009, the Fitchburg District Court was designated as the Gelinas Courthouse, in honor of the late Honorable A. André Gelinas’20, HD ’55 and Hon. André A. “Andy” Gelinas ’60, HD’83 for their many contributions to the judiciary, the bar and the city of Fitchburg for more than 85 years. The elder gelinas graduated from Harvard law School and founded the law firm gelinas & Ward in 1924, the oldest continuously operating firm in northern Worcester County. He was appointed in 1931 as a special justice of the Fitchburg district Court and later served as assistant district attorney and district attorney in Worcester County. He was awarded an honorary degree from Assumption in 1955 and practiced law until his death in 1978.
Dr. Quaglia was one of two recipients of the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2000 for his work in education. He was also the 2002 Assumption College commencement speaker and received an honorary degree. In 2004, his research helped create the foundation for the establishment of the National Catholic Center for Student Aspirations at Assumption. Dedicated to the significance and growth of Catholic education, the NCCSA focuses on improving Catholic teaching and learning environments to help students build skills to reach their dreams and lifelong aspirations.
The president/founder of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations in Portland, ME, Dr. Quaglia has been described by NBC-TV Today Show as America’s foremost authority on the development and achievement of student aspirations. As a dynamic speaker, he travels extensively presenting research-based information on student aspirations and motivation to audiences throughout the United States and around the world. His opinions and comments on aspirations and controversial educational topics have been sought after and published in national media such as the Washington Post, Boston Globe, New York Times, USA Today, Chronicle of Higher Education and Education Week. He has also appeared on national and international television radio including CNN, NPR, BBC, CSPAN, and was a guest on NBC’s Today Show.
He received a M.A. in economics from Boston College, and a M.Ed. and Ed.D. from Columbia University, specializing in the area of organizational theory and behavior. He has also been awarded numerous honorary doctorates in humanitarian services for his work with students around the world. Quaglia’s research has been published in numerous professional journals, such as Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of Instructional Psychology, American School Board Journal, Adolescence and the Journal of Psychological and Educational Measurement. His thoughts and opinions have also appeared in popular magazines such as: Reader’s Digest, Better Homes and Garden, Parent and Family Magazine and Ladies Home Journal. He is also the author of numerous books including; Believing in Achieving; Student Aspirations: Eight Conditions that Make a Difference; Raising Student Aspirations: Classroom Activities for Grades K-5, 6-8, 9-12; Changing Lives Through the Principalship; Don’t Lose Sight of the Target; and Sam’s Adventures in School.