Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
MacJannet, Donald Ross, 1894-1986
Donald Ross MacJannet (1894-1986), A1916, H1933, H1979, was a benefactor of Tufts University and an educator who established his own international schools and camps. His greatest gift to the institution was the property in Talloires, France, which the university uses as the European Center.
A descendent of Peregrine White, the baby born on the Mayflower, MacJannet was orphaned at an early age and raised, along with his sister, in the home of a Medford, Massachusetts, widow. In 1912, he graduated as valedictorian of Medford High School and entered Tufts College on a partial scholarship. He earned a B.A. in French literature in 1916. He then attended the Sorbonne in France.
In 1923, MacJannet founded a school just outside of Paris in St. Cloud, known as the MacJannet School for Young Americans. He opened a second school in Paris and acquired some land in Taillores the following year. There he started two camps, one for girls and the other for boys, which attracted an international clientele, spreading his reputation as an educator throughout the world. Some of his notable campers and students include Prince Phillip of Great Britain, Indira Ghandi, the late Prime Minister of India, and Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. In 1932, MacJannet was elected to the Legion of Honor. His schools operated for seventeen years, closing in the early 1940s. The camps continued until 1964, with a brief hiatus during World War II.During the war, the MacJannets returned to the United States, operating a school and camp in Sun Valley, Idaho and helping with the war effort in Washington, D.C.
In 1944, Tufts president Leonard Carmichael called on the MacJannets to help consolidate the college's dental and medical schools in the new Harrison Avenue, Boston campus. As soon as they were able, the MacJannets returned to France to resume their camps' normal operations.
The MacJannets purchased an eleventh century Benedictine priory in Talloires France in 1958. MacJannnet restored the building for use as an educational facility, using it for twenty years as a center to house educational and cultural events. In 1979, the MacJannets turned the property over to Tufts University, which established its European campus and conference center on the premises.
MacJannet died on April 4, 1986 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Source: TC, Spring 1986
The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.