In 1995, William and Katherine Devers of Winnetka, Illinois, established the Devers Program in Dante Studies through a generous $1 million gift to the University of Notre Dame. William Devers is president of the Devers Group, Inc., a consortium of computer companies providing application software to the publishing, utility and other industries. He is also a member of the advisory council for Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters. The Devers have four children, one of whom graduated from the Notre Dame Law School in 1990. The Devers have also endowed a library collection for the Kresge Law Library at Notre Dame.
Mimi Ravarino, and her late mother Helen, established an endowed directorship for the Italian Studies at Notre Dame Program in 2000. In 2008, Mimi established an endowment for excellence in honor of her parents Helen M. and Albert J. Ravarino, which funds key initiatives in support of Italian Studies, including extensive support for Notre Dame students and faculty to study in Italy.
Over the years, the Devers Program in Dante Studies has supported and promoted a wealth of relevant scholarship and academic initiatives. The first Devers Lecture Series and Travel & Research Grants were offered in 1996. Other program highlights include: the launch of the Distinguished Visiting Professor series; the Fall lecture series “Dante and Petrarch” and the publication of Devers Series in Dante Studies, vol. 8: Accounting for Dante by Justin Steinberg, winner of the MLA Scaglione Publication Award for a Manuscript in Italian Literary Studies, and vol. 12: Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy by Dennis Looney, winner of the 2011 Book Award, General Category, bestowed by the American Association of Italian Studies; the international seminar on “Dante and the Contemplative Tradition”; the international colloquium on “The Italian Duecento”; the 2013 Summer Seminar, Dante's Theology, which took place in Jerusalem.