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UMass Dartmouth, Ora M. DeJesus Gerontology Center records

Identifier: URC-029

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence, meeting minutes of various boards and committees, correspondence of the center’s director, a large subject file, and transcripts of speeches given by Professor DeJesus throughout her tenure at SMU/UMD. The bulk of the collection spans the 1980s and 1990s and is divided in to 6 series:

Series I contains information about the center and meeting minutes of UFGC and the executive committee. Within these can be found correspondence and other papers relating to the work of the committees. This series also contains material relating to the precursor SMU Gerontology Committee circa 1983 and the Gerontology Grants Committee which consists of proposals, progress reports and correspondence relating to grants obtained through committee for faculty research on elderly care related subjects.

Series II contains correspondence of the center, mostly that of the executive director, Ora M. DeJesus.

Series III consists of material relating to Gerontology and Nursing courses, including course syllabi, lecture notes, correspondence, student papers and schedules.

Series IV is an alphabetical subject file relating to the Certified Nursing Assistant Program, circa 1996-2000. Includes correspondence, contracts, agreements, news clippings, speeches by Professor DeJesus and other related papers.

Series V contains transcripts of speeches and talks delivered by Ora M. DeJesus. Includes handwritten note cards and other notes, material used to prepare speeches, overheads, information on events and locations of speeches and related correspondence. Speeches are arranged in chronological order.

Series VI consists of subject files related to the center, arranged alphabetically.


  • 1978 - 2001


Conditions Governing Access

No known restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

The Ora M. DeJesus Gerontology Center is a multidisciplinary unit that develops and maintains programs in the field of Gerontology. The Gerontology Programs began as part of the Division of Continuing Education as a Minor in Gerontology and expanded to include a Gerontology Certificate and a Virtual Major with the Multi-disciplinary Studies Major as a foundation.

From 1980 to 1985 Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU) was part of the New England Long Term Care Gerontology Center (SENELTCGC) which also included Bristol Community College, Brown University, Rhode Island College and University of Rhode Island. SENELTCGC was based at Brown. In 1984 the Gerontology Certificate Program was proposed for SMU by SMU faculty involved with SENELTCGC and the Gerontology Center at Brown, which included Lynn Tondat-Carter, Ora DeJesus, Daniel Georgianna, Robert Piper and Ann Tischirch. In 1986 the SMU Board of Trustees approved the University Faculty Gerontology Committee (UFGC) to act as the multidisciplinary unit to oversee the implementation of credit and non credit programs at the University relating to topics on aging. Ann Tschirch served as committee chair for the first 5 years. Efforts by the committee resulted in the formation of the gerontology minor in 1986. As one of the last acts of the SMU Board of Trustees before SMU became University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 1991, the board approved the certificate program in gerontology. The UFCG later became the executive board of the Gerontology Center in 1996 when the center was officially established at UMD.

Through her leadership and commitment to the elderly, Associate Professor of Nursing Ora DeJesus founded the Gerontology Center at UMass Dartmouth in 1996. Ms. DeJesus became a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1958 at Taunton Vocational High School. She began her career as an administrator for the Meadow View Nursing Home in Lakeville, Massachusetts. She continued her education at Newton Junior College in Newtonville, Massachusetts, where she earned an Associate of Science in Nursing degree in 1966 and a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing in 1975 from Salve Regina College. A Master’s of Science in Nursing from Boston University School of Nursing followed in 1976 and a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner degree from the same institution a year later. In 1982 Ms. DeJesus obtained National Certification as a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner by the American Nurses Association.

One of the projects of the center was the establishment of the CNA Program offered through the Division of Continuing Education. The program consists of 75-84 hours of clinical and class room experience and prepares students to take the state certification examination. Areas of study include physiology of aging, body mechanics, infection control, anatomy and physiology, and managing chronic illness.

Biographical note on Ora M. DeJesus

From January to June 1978 Ms. DeJesus served as a Visiting Lecturer at SMU’s College of Nursing. In 1980 she was the liaison for SMU with the SENELTCGC and worked as a Gerontological Nurse Consultant for the Brown University Program in Nursing. By 1981 she had been appointed Associate Professor in the College of Nursing at SMU. In 1984 and 1988 she received the “Better Life Award” for her contributions in gerontological education and service on behalf of nursing home residents. In 1989 she received a citation from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for her leadership in organizing the Governor’s Conference on Aging and her commitment to educating future health care professionals. In 1992 Professor DeJesus was sworn in to serve on the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing by Governor William Weld. After Professor DeJesus passed away on July 1, 2000 the Gerontology Center at UMass Dartmouth was renamed the Ora M. DeJesus Gerontology Center and an endowment for the gerontology program was established in her name to provide funds to allow the center to continue and expand the work began by Professor DeJesus.

For more information on the life and career of Professor DeJesus see The Salmon Run: The Autobiography of Ora M. DeJesus by Joyce Y. Passos (2001). Additional information on gerontology and the College of Nursing can be found in University of Massachusetts Dartmouth College of Nursing. A History of the First 25 Years: 1970-1995 by Joyce Y. Passos (1996).


5.4 Linear Feet (13 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Road, North Dartmouth, MA 02747, 508-999-8686,

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Gerontology Center Office on October 17, 2002. Accession # 03-13.

Processing Information

Processed by Kyle DeCicco-Carey for a Simmons College GSLIS project in archives management, April 2005.

UMass Dartmouth, Ora M. DeJesus Gerontology Center records
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Repository

285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA