Dr. Kopecky received the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 1999 for his work in economic monetary policy. He earned a Ph.D. from Brown University in 1970. He is the W.D. Fuller Professor of Economics & Chair of Finance at Temple University. He was an assistant professor at Ohio State University before joining the Federal Reserve Board in Washington D.C. as a senior economist. While at the Board, Ken worked on the Monetary Control Act of 1980 and the re-evaluation of the Federal Open Market Committee’s operating procedures. Dr. Kopecky’s areas of expertise include monetary economics and financial markets. He has published more than 30 refereed articles in the leading journals of the field including the Journal of Finance, Journal of Monetary Economics, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Journal of Banking and Finance, Journal of International Economics, and Journal of International Money and Finance. Since joining Temple in 1988, Ken has taught courses in both economics and finance, and has served as assistant dean for graduate programs, chairperson of the department of finance, and executive editor of the Journal of Economics and Business.
Frances became the first female to receive the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 1998 in recognition of her work as the executive director of a family health center in Worcester that provides health care to the poor. In November 2009, she was one of six honored with a Women in Business award by Worcester Business Journal.
From the summer 2007 issue of Assumption Magazine:
By Elizabeth Walker
In a showdown between health and education, health triumphs. Children must be healthy —and in class— to succeed in school. Daily attendance is challenging for students from families who lack access to primary health care, especially if children or family members have chronic health issues that go untreated, said Ruthann Melancon ’74, G’76, principal of Elm Park Community School in Worcester.
Healthy children from healthy families are more likely to stay in school, to lead more productive lives, to live longer, and to give back to their communities. Keeping children healthy andin school, and providing access to primary health care for their families are overarching goals that Melancon has long shared with another Assumption alumna, Frances Anthes ’73. Both women are fully invested,professionally and personally, in the educational and health care issues that affect children and families. The principal and the family health administrator agree that identifying and removing obstacles to high-quality health care for families are critical first steps toward success in school—and in life.
Anthes and Melancon have been leading change since they arrived at Assumption in the late 1960s. Anthes joined the first class of women admitted to the previously all-male school; Melancon arrived a year later, the first in her family to attend college. Each of the women assumed she would live in Worcester for four years, graduate, and then leave the city before the ink dried on her diploma.
Nearly 35 years later, the two alumnae are still in Worcester, and leveraging their positions of leadership to improve access to education and health care for children and families at risk. In 1997, Anthes was named president and chief executive officer of Family Health Center of Worcester (FHC), incorporated in 1972 to improve the health and well-being of traditionally underserved and culturally diverse Worcester area residents. She oversees a staff of more than 250 employees who deliver high-quality primary health care and social services in Worcester’s innercity neighborhoods, home to minority and refugee populations, college students, low-income families, homeowners, and homeless persons living in temporary shelters. Like most of her employees, Anthes lives in one of the neighborhoods FHC serves. Her three children attended Elm Park Community School.
Melancon, who earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education at Assumption, is in her twelfth year as principal of Elm Park Community School and her final year in a Ph.D. program at Lesley University. She and Anthes have interacted over the years as they built coalitions and advocated on behalf of their respective stakeholders—health care clients and public school students. More recently Melancon and Anthes joined forces to establish the state’s first school-based health care center that offers health services to the community it serves during after-school hours.
The opening of the Helen A. Bowditch Health Center at Elm Park Community School in June was a dream come true for Melancon. In addition to offering primary care to her students, the center extends health care services two evenings a week to school families and other residents in the Elm Park neighborhood. Named for the late Helen A. Bowditch, a civic leader and former school committee member, the school-based health center is a model for preventive and wellness-oriented health care. It enables patients to manage chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, and cardiovascular disease, without leaving the neighborhood. Easy access to the center’s services should result in fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits for the school’s families. The school-based health center’s proximity and extended hours promise healthier children, who stay in school, as well as healthier families and neighbors in the Elm Park community.
Anthes and Melancon’s paths did not cross often on the Assumption campus, where Anthes majored in English with an interest in teaching, and Melancon concentrated on psychology with an eye toward pre-med studies. Within the Worcester community, the women have been on parallel trajectories throughout their professional lives, often meeting at the intersection of education and health care.
“I knew Ruthann from Worcester,” Anthes said. “My children attended Elm Park Community School, but they were gone when she became principal. When the school said it wanted a family health center, I thought, ‘What about the community?’ If you have the resources and the community has the need, then you need to work together.”
Elm Park Community School enrolls more than 400 students from one of the most financially disadvantaged, diverse, and densely populated neighborhoods in Worcester. Given its highly mobile population, the school suffers a high rate of student turnover and absenteeism. Anthes and Melancon saw the school as the ideal location for Worcester’s 14th school-based health center, and the state’s first school-based health center to remain open to the community after school hours.
“I knew Fran from Assumption, but we were in different classes and involved in different areas,” Melancon said. “Periodically, we saw each other through our connections to Worcester organizations. Then this opportunity came up for the community health center at the school. It has been fun to work with Fran and Family Health Center on this project that has grown from a seed of an idea. I’m not one to wait if there is a need and neither is Fran.”
Once they had the approval from the Worcester School committee, their tenacity and track records as advocates for the disadvantaged helped them to secure the nearly $300,000 needed to renovate, equip, and furnish space within the school for the new community health center. Support from local foundations and a $100,000 matching gift challenge from an anonymous donor helped them to jumpstart the fund-raising effort.
“Our school has constant activity,” Melancon said. “We’re always open—from breakfast for our students, to adult classes in the evening, to summer programs. A health center makes sense here. Health has always been an interest of mine. I believe we need something to help young people explore their health. What happens in their lives now, in terms of healthy living, affects what happens to them later.”
Prepared to teach when she graduated from Assumption, Anthes learned very quickly that there is a strong connection between the health of a person and that of his or her family and the community. That knowledge framed her career from the start as an interesting mix between teaching and health care. “My first job was in a mixed population parent cooperative school,” Anthes said. “It was a good first job for understanding how poverty affected families. Then I worked for Dynamy where I learned how experiential education really worked for kids. I also learned that girls who already got pregnant were on a different track. I worked with Access, a teen pregnancy program, at Health Awareness Services of Central Mass. The hook with Access was it was a medical model. Some of the girls may have already dropped out of school before they became pregnant.”
Anthes, a licensed social worker who earned a master’s degree in social work at the University of Connecticut (UConn), joined Family Health Center in 1991. In addition to her responsibilities as FHC president and CEO, she also lectures and serves as an advisor for graduate students in social work at UConn, and works with family practice residents at UMass Medical School. In addition, she is active on a variety of advisory boards, task forces, and committees in service to the local and statewide communities. Called a “woman of vision,” when she received the Katharine F. Erskine Award (Medicine & Science) in 1998, Anthes has been recognized frequently for her community service activities. Twice she has been Assumption’s Honors Convocation speaker. The College’s Alumni Association honored her with an Outstanding Achievement Award in 1998.
Melancon, also an Erskine Award holder, has been described as a “role model every day.” With her background in special education, she is ever-vigilant about identifying obstacles to inclusiveness within her school community. Personal health and family well-being surfaced as obvious barriers to school attendance at Elm Park Community School. “I always ask myself hat is keeping this child from fully participating in this school community?” Melancon said. “What does this child need from us? What has to change? My focus is on facilitating organizational change—that’s been my life.”
Growing up as a self-described “Coast Guard brat,” Melancon’s family moved often. She was “the new kid in school” in four states—and in Greece—before finally settling back in Connecticut. “Those experiences made a difference in who I am,” she said. “I came to Assumption because I was looking for a small school. I was interested in math and science with particular interest in pre-med and psychology. When I visited the Assumption campus, I felt comfortable there—felt at home. Even at Assumption, I was identifying needs, like a darkroom and a new way to get student IDs made without the long lines. I was bold enough to talk to the president about these needs and he agreed to provide them. I stayed in Worcester after graduation. It’s a small city, close enough to my family.”
Anthes, who came to Assumption from suburban New Jersey, said the College gave her an opportunity to explore the issues of the day, like civil rights and the Vietnam War. “It was a nurturing and stimulating environment,” she said. “I left Assumption with a desire to be in the rest of the world in a contributing way. When I was asked to speak to the Women’s Studies Department in March, it made me reflect on where I’ve come from. There’s real value to work—to good workwork that feels like you’re contributing. I left Assumption with that value. The College played an important role in where I am today.”
Today, Anthes is playing an important role in the health and well-being of the Worcester community and beyond. She believes that health care is about informed and empowered consumers. There are not enough hours in the day for her to accomplish all that needs to be done on their behalf. “My days are too full,” Anthes said. “The work is varied, interesting, energizing. The amazing thing about working in health care is that you’re making a difference in people’s lives. The self-perpetuating aspect of this work makes it feel like an important job to do. We have to change the way we provide people with access to health care.”
With the opening of the Helen A. Bowditch Health Center at Elm Park Community School, Anthes and Melancon are still identifying needs, and still leading change in the delivery of health care and education for those in the Worcester community most in need of the important work they continue to do on behalf of others.
Tim received the College's Outstanding Achievement Award in 1998. He was a former aid to both Hubert Humphrey and former Massachusetts Lt. Governor John Kerry. Tim also served as former Undersecretary of Labor to Robert Reich during the Clinton administration. He is a member of the College's Heritage Society, President's Council and Board of Trustees (1999-present). Tim has also been highly active in Assumption fundraising efforts in the Washington, DC area since the early 1990s and has also served on several committees, including those for his class reunions. He is co-director of the Workforce Development Strategies Group at the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, DC.
Jim received the College’s Outstanding Achievement award in 1998. He is considered to be one of the world’s experts on Iran. James was present in Iran during the time of the 1979 revolution. He has authored numerous books about Iran, the Middle East, foreign affairs and politics. He holds a MA from Penn State University and both a MA and Ph.D. from Princeton University. He taught comparative politics at the University of Texas-Austin (1968-86) for 18 years.
In 1987, he began working at the College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, VA), where he took over as director of the newly-founded Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies and joined the department of government. For over a decade, Jim helped build and run the Reves Center, making it one of the country's top undergraduate international studies programs. During that some period, he also published perhaps his most well-known and important book, and analysis of U.S.-Iranian relations entitled The Eagle and the Lion (Yale); he was also asked to write the authorized biography of a premier American diplomat, George Ball: Behind the Scenes in U.S. Foreign Policy (Yale).
Throughout this time, Jim’s courses on Middle East politics gave undergraduates a deeper understanding of that fascinating, volatile and critical region. In 1998, Jim retired from the Reves Center and took up residence at WM, where he remained an active scholar and teacher. His latest book, Roman Catholics and Shi'i Muslims: Prayers, Passion, and Politics, he wrote with John Alden Williams and published in 2002. He retired from William & Mary in 2005. James was awarded an honorary degree from the College in 1989. His brother, Richard ’62, is also an alumnus.
Dr. Denomme received the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 1997. He is an internationally recognized expert in 19th century French literature and the D.H. Gordon Professor Emeritus of French at the University of Virginia. A lifetime member of the College’s President Council, in 2000 he established the George E. and Sarah Denomme Memorial Scholarship at Assumption in honor of his parents. It is awarded annually to a student concentrating in French studies: language, literate, culture, philosophy or politics. He received an honorary degree from the College in 2001. Robert passed away in May 2011.
Lou received the College’s Outstanding Achevement Award in 1996 and was awarded an honorary degree from the College the same year.
He was featured in the spring 2011 issue of Assumption College Magazine (pages 18-19). Text from the article follows below.
Lou D’Abramo, Ph.D. ’71, Hon. ’96, demonstrates an unwavering passion for discovery and knowledge, which has fueled an exemplary life of research, teaching and service. The dean of the Graduate School and associate vice president for academic affairs at Mississippi State University (MSU), D’Abramo has received a litany of awards throughout his career, including being named a W. L. Giles Distinguished Professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. An MSU faculty member since 1984, his involvement in faculty governance sparked his interest in higher education administration and in 2008 he was named dean. “I felt that this position would be the perfect next step in my academic career,” said D’Abramo. “I am passionate about graduate education because I believe it is the foundation of scholarship for any university/college,” he said. “I enjoy advocating for the various disciplines, including the humanities, engineering, business and education. We are developing the future leaders of the world.”
His enthusiasm for education flourished at Assumption. “The core courses that were part of my liberal arts education had such a positive influence on my intellectual development,” said D’Abramo. “They laid a strong foundation for graduate study. Many colleges and universities offer highly specialized curricula with core courses that are more of a ritual walk-through rather than a stimulating foundation for future study. Assumption develops a multi-dimensional person.”
D’Abramo majored in natural science and mathematics, and had intended to enter the medical field. His interest in ecology and the marine environment blossomed after experiencing Assumption’s first Earth Day celebration in 1970. He learned more about ecology and geology through a class field trip – and he changed his career plans to ecology and environmental stewardship. After earning a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Yale University, he was a post graduate researcher at the University of California-Davis. He authored a doctoral dissertation on the presence of food and the role of dietary nutrients on the population dynamics of small shrimp-like organisms. That’s when he entered the discipline of aquaculture – the farming of aquatic plants and animals. His primary research interests are the aquaculture of freshwater and marine organisms and the development of sustainable commercial production practices based upon the wise use of natural resources and environmental stewardship.
He is highly active in professional associations and received the 2010 Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the United States Aquaculture Society. D’Abramo’s ardor for research has taken him around the world. His research has improved U.S. commercial farming practices for channel catfish and hybrid striped bass, and has been essential to the development of the U.S. freshwater prawn aquaculture industry. He also has edited or co-edited three books, served as editor of professional journals, written numerous articles and book chapters and provided insights as a guest speaker at various conferences and review panels for aquaculture research.
D’Abramo supervises a staff of 22 at MSU, which boasts a graduate enrollment of 4,000 and 28 percent distance education students. “We have entered a new phase in graduate education, and young faculty are much more versed in delivering distance education courses to a generation of students who have grown up with ever-changing and improving technology,” he explained. “While there are many wonderful developments, unfortunately I also see a lack of training in writing, ethics and critical thinking, which are essential for success in graduate school.”
He is dedicated to high standards of scholarship in the graduate programs. “I view my role as helping students and faculty broaden and enhance their research accomplishments and academic careers,” D’Abramo stated. While there are many professional and academic achievements to his name, D’Abramo views his two adult children, Jason and Erin, as his greatest legacy. D’Abramo sets the bar high – for himself and those around him.
Roger received the College’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 1995 for his development of software that provides diagnoses of diseases and medical conditions in 12 languages. Roger is a emeritas professor in medicine from the University of Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, where he was employed for 15 years and from which he was awarded an honorary degree in 2005. He retired from teaching in 2007.
Dr. Shen was the first recipient of the Assumption College Outstanding Achievement Award in 1979. He is an astrophysicist at the University of Pennsylvania and a former member of the Board of Trustees for the National Science Foundation. Benjamin was a former teacher at Assumption Prep School (1954-56), a former member of Assumption College Board of Trustees and received and honorary degree from the College in 1972.
From the winter 2003 issue of Assumption Magazine:
Cosmic Achiever : Interview with Benjamin S.P. Shen, Ph.D ’54
By Phyllis Hanlon '01
Former College trustee, Benjamin S. P. Shen ’54, H’72, recently discussed is memories of Assumption as well as life beyond the campus. A pioneer in applying particle accelerators to astrophysical research, he held for a quarter-century the Reese W. Flower chair in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also a former provost. Outside of academia, he has served as a presidentially appointed member of the National Science Board, chaired a federal task force on science literacy, and sat on various non-profit boards. Dr. Shen was born in China and received his D. Sc. in Physics from the Sorbonne. He and his wife, Lucia, have two children.
PH: What was your major at Assumption?
SHEN: In the 1950s, all students received pretty much the same classical education with a European flavor. Specialization came with the senior thesis. In mine, I tried to show, with sophomoric brashness, that the so-called mathematical induction actually relied upon a hidden rule of inference that was on a par with the Aristotelian laws of thought. Fr. Polyeucte Guissard, my favorite and incredibly erudite advisor, was unconvinced. So you might say that I “majored” in the philosophy of mathematics. Even today, I think this kind of independent study and research is unmatched as a way to sharpen an already solid liberal arts curriculum.
PH: Would you relate some memorable experiences from your days at Assumption?
SHEN: The most tragic had to be the tornado that devastated the old campus a few days after the 1953 Commencement and took 94 lives, including several at the College. I remember in the eerie silence immediately following, the normally jovial Brother Armand Goffard, the College’s infirmarian and chef, came toward me holding a bottle of vintage French wine from his pantry, but offering only to pour it over my wounds, which fortunately were relatively minor. Richard Dion AP’55, brother of Fr. Louis Dion, A.A. ’35 then found some gauze and bandaged me up. A truck later took me to a hospital in Holden, itself without electric power, where an exhausted doctor carefully sewed me up by candlelight, as in the movies.
PH: After graduation, where did life lead you?
SHEN: I wanted to teach math, but got only offers to teach French. Then, Assumption Prep asked me to teach math, geography, and mechanical drawing at $700 a year plus room and board. I accepted without another thought. Feeling rich, I bought a beaten-up Chevy coupe to tool around campus in, to the great amusement of my prep students, who soon took to putting pebbles in the hubcaps. In retrospect, my two years at the Prep were among the most rewarding of my teaching career. After the Prep, I taught at SUNY-Albany and NYU. I joined the University of Pennsylvania in 1966 and have taught there ever since, except for stints in Penn’s administration and in government service.
PH: How does your accumulated scientific knowledge connect to your hobbies?
SHEN: One nice thing about being a professor is that your work is often indistinguishable from your hobby, and this goes for teaching as well as for research. Teaching is still the one thing that I miss now that I’m retired. On the other hand, my reallife hobbies usually have nothing to do with science. Right now, I’m having fun restoring vintage bicycles. But I am in a jam because now every person in my family wants one.
PH: Where did you pursue additional schooling?
SHEN: I earned a D. Sc.d’Etat in Physics from the University of Paris in 1964 under Pierre Auger, discoverer of the Auger electron. My dissertation research was mainly guided by Serge Korff of NYU and by Raymond Davis Jr., now on the Penn faculty, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics.
PH: Would you discuss some of the research in which you have engaged?
SHEN: As an astronomer and astrophysicist, my research has centered around cosmic rays—those invisible subatomic particles that constantly bombard the Earth, probably from distant supernovas. Over the years, I’ve used data from high-energy accelerators, giant telescopes, space probes, and supercomputers to study puzzles ranging from rare chemical elements in the universe to exploding cores of active galaxies and quasars. But, despite all the technological paraphernalia, science is still sometimes best done with pencil and paper on a quiet evening.
PH: What do you do professionally now?
SHEN: I occasionally dabble in problems between science and philosophy. Here’s one in a nutshell: When an engineer uses mathematics to design, say, an airplane, the resulting product, lo and behold, actually flies. This is something quite amazing if you think about it. How can the mathematical rules of inference, which originate in our minds and apparently have no contact with the natural world around us, help us predict so accurately what would happen in that natural world? This uncanny ability of math and logic to never make mistakes about nature is puzzling and is, I think, what makes science and technology possible for humans. This is a seldom explored issue in cognitive science, and it’s something to think about.
PH: You were class valedictorian at your graduation. What advice would you give graduating seniors today?
SHEN: I understand that many Assumption students take part in the College’s programs in community service, both here and abroad. Such programs teach, among other things, the virtue of helping others with humility and, in some cases, the value of manual labor. There was a time when students everywhere in America took pride in working in manual jobs over the summer almost as part of the ritual of growing up. It’s a loss that we don’t do that so much anymore. There is more to college than single-minded intellectual and career pursuits. I would encourage students to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities to serve others, and take the Assumptionist spirit with them after they graduate.