October 6, 2017

Elms College inaugurates its 11th president with liturgy, special events

Story and photos by Sharon Roulier

Newly inaugurated Elms College president Harry E. Dumay is pictured with Cynthia Lyons, chair of the Elms College Board of Directors.


CHICOPEE – Harry E. Dumay officially became the 11th president of College of Our Lady of the Elms in a formal inauguration ceremony held on Friday, Oct. 6.

In his inaugural address, Dumay spoke about the significant contributions of Catholic colleges, and their responsibility to the students and communities they serve.

President Harry Dumay is pictured after receiving the medallion at the investiture ceremony Oct. 6 at Our Lady of the Ems College in Chicopee.

“The Catholic intellectual tradition stems in great part from John Henry Newman’s exhortation to Catholics in England in his time: ‘to cultivate (their) reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other,’” Dumay said.

During his inaugural address the new president made a promise to Elms students to provide a “strong and active Catholic higher education.”

“We have chosen you because you have met the requirements to be part of our community of teachers and learners,” said Dumay. “You have chosen us to help you achieve your dreams and aspirations.”

“Genius awaits you in the classroom, in any conversation with a faculty member, in any study group session when the proverbial light bulb goes on and your understanding and creativity are unbound. Our promise to you is to help you discover, not only your intellectual genius, but also your genius for making the world a better place,” he said.

Among the attendees were delegates from 45 sister colleges and associations across New England and around the country, including former colleagues of Dumay from St. Anselm College, Harvard University, Boston College, and Boston University; representatives of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the college’s founding congregation; and honored guests who traveled from multiple countries, including the president of the Haitian Senate, Hon. Youri Latortue.

Dumay was chosen to lead Elms College following a nationwide search and took the helm in July 2017. He has served in higher education finance and administration at senior and executive levels for 19 years. He holds a doctoral degree in higher education administration from Boston College, an MBA from Boston University, and a master of arts degree in public administration from Framingham State University.

“True to the college’s mission, as envisioned by the Sisters of St. Joseph, all our presidents have held Catholic higher education in high regard, demonstrated a commitment to service, and always believed in the potential of every student and the difference that they can make in our world. Dr. Dumay promises to be a worthy steward of this legacy,” said Cynthia A. Lyons, chair of the board of trustees, during the ceremony.

“We’re thrilled with the new president, as I think is the student body, the diocese, everybody who meets Dr. Dumay is excited. It’s just a great new beginning,” said Sister of St. Joseph Joan Ryzewicz, president of the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield, in an interview with Catholic Communications.

Elms College president Harry Dumay poses with his wife, Maggie, and some of the Sisters of St. Joseph who attended the inauguration events on Oct. 6.

“When I think of the sisters that taught here, I think that they did so much more than teach. They really not only built this place, they really lived it, loved it. It was their whole life,” said Sister Ryzewicz. “I have no doubt the mission will continue here as it has been for almost 90 years.”

Dumay, who hails from Ouanaminthe, Haiti, most recently resided with his family in Framingham, Mass., and worked as the senior vice president and chief financial officer at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Before that, he served as chief financial officer and associate dean at Harvard University’s Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, associate dean at Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work, and director of finance for Boston University’s School of Engineering. Dumay also served as an adjunct faculty member at Boston College for nine years.

Events held on Inauguration Day included a special Mass, a campus-wide picnic, a post-inauguration reception, a dedication ceremony for the new chapel in Berchmans Hall, and the annual President’s Evening of Appreciation dinner.