Assumption College was founded in 1904 by the Augustinians of the Assumption (Assumptionists), a religious congregation founded in France in 1850. Initially, the students were sons of immigrants from French Canada who had settled in New England. The College was originally located in the Greendale section of the city.
Through the years of the Great Depression and World War II, Assumption remained a small school dedicated to producing a Catholic elite to serve the “Franco-American” population of New England. The school was decimated by World War II, when virtually the entire college-level student body left for military service. Fortunately, the numbers in the prep school increased as dramatically as those in the college declined.
After the war, the Assumptionists observed the gradual assimilation of French-speaking families into the English-speaking mainstream. In the early 1950s they began admitting Franco-American students who knew no French, and all classes were now taught in English. A graduate studies program was instituted in 1952. Just as this new era was getting under way, a tornado struck the Greendale campus on June 9, 1953, taking three lives and causing extensive damage to buildings and grounds..
The Assumptionists decided to turn this disaster into the long-awaited opportunity to separate the Prep school from the College. The Greendale campus was restored as the home of Assumption Preparatory School, while the College carried on in temporary quarters and eventually took up residence on the current Salisbury Street campus in 1956. The purchase of the property on Salisbury Street was made possible by way of a generous grant from the Kennedy Foundation.
During its half-century on Worcester’s West Side, the college has lived through many changes and challenges. By the end of the 1950s, lay professors outnumbered Assumptionists on the faculty, a process that has accelerated over the decades. In 1968, the Assumptionists turned the school over to a new board of trustees made up of both religious and lay people. In 1969, women matriculated as undergraduates for the first time. In 1972, the College welcomed its first lay president. The College has since experienced significant facilities and enrollment growth, with a current undergraduate population of 2,100 and more than 700 graduate and Continuing Education students..
The physical plant portfolio has been greatly enhanced since 2000 with the completion of new buildings such as the Testa Science Center, Information Technology Center, dormered art studios, new residence halls, and the Multi-Sport Stadium, as well as major renovations to academic buildings, dining facilities and residence halls.