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Nancy Lawson Donahue ’49, H’98

Nancy Lawson Donahue, known as "Straw", was a fashion merchandising major at Lasell University. She has made Lasell a priority throughout her lifetime; many future generations of students and alumni will benefit from her generosity. In addition to her philanthropic and volunteer work at Lasell, she is a founding member of both the Merrimack Repertory Theater and the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA.

Donahue has been instrumental in every initiative Lasell University has undertaken and served on the Board of Trustees and as Vice Chairman of the Board for many years. Today, she holds the distinguished title of "Trustee Emerita" and is a valued member of the President's Advisory Council. Following Lasell's decision to become coeducational, Nancy and her husband Dick made a generous gift to establish the Donahue Institute for Values and Public Life (now known as the Donahue Institute for Equity and Social Justice) - one objective of which was to make sure that women's voices continue to be heard in the classroom. This center has been responsible for many rich academic programs and events on campus, highlighting the excellent work of those striving to improve the lives of others.

In 2011, the brand new Nancy Lawson Donahue '49 Center for Creative and Applied Arts was opened. This project was close to Donahue's heart as she was a fashion major at Lasell and is a major supporter of the arts. The center provides state-of-the-art academic facilities for students, as well as additional classroom space for faculty in the fashion and arts programs. It also serves as the repository for the college's collection of historic and modern fashion pieces.

Donahue has received numerous awards for her philanthropic and community volunteer efforts, including an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Lasell and most recently, was a 2013 Honorary Degree Recipient at UMass Lowell.