Classroom Named in Honor of Migliaro '88 and Husband

In December of 2012 Joanne DiGeronimo Migliaro '88 and her husband Anthony, consistent supporters of Emmanuel College in the past, made a five-year, $150,000 pledge to support the College’s efforts to restore the Administration Building. In recognition of their generous support, Room 156, one of the building’s new high-tech classrooms, has now been renamed The Joanne DiGeronimo Migliaro ’88 and Anthony Migliaro Classroom.

The motivation for this generous gift is a profound belief in the mission of Emmanuel College and a deep understanding of the power of giving, instilled in them by someone very special.

Joanne is the daughter of Joseph J. DiGeronimo, the former senior vice president of Victory Supermarkets, from whom she learned of the value of giving back at a very young age.  Her family founded the supermarket chain in 1923 when they purchased a small home-delivery grocery market in Leominster, Mass. The second and third generations continued to own and manage the chain, which grew to 20 different locations. Philanthropy and community support long stood as the front-runners of her father’s priorities.

“My father has been instrumental in my understanding the importance of philanthropic giving—he gave back to the communities wherever he had a supermarket located,” Joanne said. “Schools, churches, hospitals…I’ve learned so much and continue to be encouraged by him.  Even to this day, at 85, he encourages us to give.”

Joanne always maintained a rigorous standard when it came to her education. She earned her RN from St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing in 1975, then a certificate from the Carney Hospital School of Nurse Anesthesia. With these qualifications, she landed a job in the Emmanuel neighborhood, working at the Deaconess Hospital, now Beth Israel Deaconess. With a goal of obtaining a college degree and a familiarity with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur through her time in grammar school (Julie Country Day), Emmanuel College was the perfect fit for pursuing her bachelor’s degree. Upon entering Emmanuel as an adult learner and enrolling in the political science program, Joanne felt right at home.  

“The undergraduates and on-campus students really accepted the adult learners into the programs,” she said. “You were just like one of them, even though you were older and not living on campus. To this day, that has always stuck in my mind about Emmanuel. There was always a wonderful sense of community.”

Today, Joanne and her husband Anthony have become valued members of that same community, giving generously to the Emmanuel College Annual Fund and Sister Janet Eisner’s 30th anniversary as president of the College, in 2010. When the proposal to support the restoration of the Administration Building was put before the Migliaros, they knew now was the time to step up and give back in a significant way.

“When the time came to make this gift to Emmanuel,” Anthony added, “we called [Joanne’s] father and she said ‘Dad, we made a decision, we are going to make this pledge to support Emmanuel and the Administration Building.’The first words out of his mouth were ‘Yes, absolutely, do it. It’s very, very important.’”

For the Migliaros, the importance of giving back to one’s alma mater is paramount.

“If you’re successful, you owe it, in part, to the college or university you graduated from,” said Anthony. “No matter how hard you worked, you still had to get into college and get your degree as a step to get where you are today. I am a firm believer in giving back to the institutions that made it all possible. Higher education needs to be laid out as a philanthropic priority and put on the front burner.”

The Joanne DiGeronimo Migliaro ’88 and Anthony Migliaro Classroom is a brand-new classroom that features 80-inch high definition LED displays, replacing the standard projectors and screens of the past. The displays are mounted on a unique “rolling track solution” that allows instructors to utilize the technology and whiteboards simultaneously, thus creating a versatile and immersive classroom experience.  The screens, which maintain high visibility throughout the room, allow faculty to highlight minute visual details in
anything from artwork to molecular structures that would otherwise be unseen. 

Emmanuel's Information Technology department has been partnering with individual faculty to develop innovative ways to incorporate the classroom’s new technology into
existing lesson plans to engage students on an entirely new level and make classroom time that much more efficient. The rooms also feature award-winning and student-focused Learn2 seating, adaptable for enhanced collaborative interaction.  

Such innovative technology and collaboration was a major draw to the Migliaros.

“Keeping the Administration Building up to date keeps Emmanuel students competitive in an ever-advancing world, and that is extremely important,” said Anthony. “ The Administration Building has been there since 1919.  All alumni have set foot in those halls, learned in those classrooms. The Administration Building has a lot of history to it, and by helping to support its restoration we have become a part of that history and hope that others will join us.” 

Honoring the cherished past and helping to secure a bright future, the Migliaros continue to play an integral part in Emmanuel’s growth and development. Emmanuel is forever grateful for their tremendous gift, which will enrich the lives of students for generations to come.