Commencement Eve benefit breaks record for 6th year in a row, surpasses $3M mark
Contacts: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or Christine_Gillette@uml.edu
LOWELL, Mass. – For the sixth year in a row, UMass Lowell has broken a record for the funds raised for student scholarships – $725,000 – through its annual Commencement Eve Celebration.
With this year’s donations, the event has now raised a total of $3 million for scholarships since it was first held in 2008.
The sixth annual gala provided the public and university community the opportunity to hear from Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, who will serve as Commencement speaker at the University's 9 a.m. undergraduate ceremony. Harish Hande ’98, ’00 – a UMass Lowell alumnus and social entrepreneur devoted to providing India’s poor with solar energy, who will speak at the 3 p.m. Commencement ceremony for master’s and doctoral degree recipients – was also featured at the gala. Joining them were fellow honorary degree recipients Nancy Donahue, local philanthropist and arts advocate, Elisia and Mark Saab ’81, successful medical-device entrepreneurs and supporters of UMass Lowell and the region’s Portuguese community, and Distinguished Alumni Award winner Bernard Shapiro ’56.
The event was held at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center with a question-and-answer session with the honorary degree recipients moderated by Andre Dubus III, bestselling author and UMass Lowell English professor. Davis spoke later in the evening.
The celebration honored outstanding members of the Class of 2013 who have excelled in academics and service to the campus and community. Of the 11 top academic achievers in UMass Lowell’s schools and colleges, 10 have perfect 4.0 grade point averages.
“Our annual Commencement Eve Celebration recognizes and honors the accomplishments of our outstanding graduates, alumni and community leaders,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “Each year, the celebration raises crucial scholarship funds for our students. With the generous support of alumni and friends of the university, again we have achieved a record-breaking year in fundraising through this signature event.”
UMass Lowell Commencement ceremonies will take place on Saturday, May 18 at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Lowell. At ceremonies for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree recipients, 3,169 students will graduate, up from 2,900 last year. The honorary degrees and Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented during the 9 a.m. undergraduate ceremony.
UMass Lowell has graduated record numbers of students at each of the last five Commencement ceremonies and this year has its first graduating class of more than 3,000. The university has seen enrollment grow by 40 percent in the last five years. This year, the student body numbers more than 16,000 for the first time UMass Lowell’s history and represents more than 53 countries.
Davis, whose leadership in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings has personified the spirit of “Boston Strong,” heads the Boston Police Department, the 20th-largest law enforcement agency in the U.S. and the third-largest in New England, with more than 2,000 officers and 800 civilian employees. Commissioner since 2006, he has stressed community and predictive policing while implementing new initiatives, resulting in an annual decrease in serious crime in Boston. Previously, he served as superintendent of police in Lowell for 12 years, during which time the city saw a 60-percent reduction in crime. Davis began his career in the Lowell Police Department in 1978 as a patrol officer, rising through the ranks before becoming superintendent. A founding member of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association, he received the National Leadership Award from the Police Executive Research Forum and is in the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame. He has brought his expertise to UMass Lowell’s Department of Criminal Justice, helping students integrate what they have learned in the classroom with his real-world experience.
Hande, who earned a master’s degree in renewable energy engineering and a doctorate in mechanical engineering with a concentration in energy at UMass Lowell, co-founded Solar Electric Light Co. India in 1995. As SELCO’s managing director, he has pioneered access to solar electricity for more than half a million people in India, where more than half the population does not have electricity, through customized home-lighting systems and innovative financing. Hande received the 2011 Magsaysay Award, widely considered Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and was named One of 21 Young Leaders for India’s 21st Century by Business Today and Social Entrepreneur of the Year for 2007 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Nand and Jeep Khemkha Foundation.
Donahue is a philanthropist and community volunteer in the Merrimack Valley who co-founded the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. She established the Nancy L. Donahue Endowed Professorship in the Arts to strengthen UMass Lowell music, arts and theater programs, and has supported several university scholarship funds, including for the Mary Jo Leahey Summer Band Camp. She has served on UMass Lowell’s Commencement Host Committee, the Chancellor's External Advisory Board and as executive director of the University of Lowell Foundation. Her community involvement includes serving as a trustee of Whistler House Museum of Art, Ayer Home Trust, Lasell College, Adolescent Consultative Services, Canalwater Cleaners and the New England Quilt Museum, which she helped establish in Lowell. She also serves on the board of the American Textile History Museum and the local United Way chapter, where she was the first woman to chair the board. She was the National Philanthropy Day Honoree in 2005 and Girls Incorporated Celebration of Today’s Women Honoree in 1999.
Elisia and Mark Saab ’81 are the namesakes of UMass Lowell’s new $80 million, state-of-the-art academic and research facility, the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center. Mark Saab has nearly 25 years of experience in the plastics industry and holds more than 30 patents. In 1989, he and Elisia Saab co-founded Advanced Polymers Inc., a medical-device manufacturer. In 2010 the company merged with the MedTech Group of New Jersey. Mark Saab, who earned a degree in plastics engineering from the University of Lowell, serves as president of Advanced Polymers and on the MedTech board of directors. The Saabs’ support for current and future UMass Lowell students includes The Mark and Elisia Saab Endowed Professorship in environmentally friendly plastics; The Mark Saab Family Scholarship Endowment and the Saab Scholarship Fund for local students of Portuguese heritage and those studying plastics engineering; The Mark Saab Advanced Polymers Physical and Rheological Properties Testing Laboratory (sponsored by the Saabs’ company); and the new Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture. The couple lives in Lowell.
Along with Shapiro, a Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Gary M. Mucica ’71, who will be honored posthumously.
Shapiro graduated from Lowell Technological Institute, one of UMass Lowell’s predecessor institutions, and also studied at the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a master’s degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He began his academic career at Lowell Tech in 1962 as an instructor in the Department of Economics and Management and by 1973 was named a full professor. He coordinated math instruction for students in the College of Management (now the Manning School of Business) from 1968 to 1996 and, after retiring, he served as evening supervisor for what is now the Division of Online and Continuing Education. Leadership donors who have supported many programs and initiatives at the university for more than 25 years, Shapiro and his wife established the Bernard and Yana Shapiro Endowed Scholarship Fund. He has received many honors, including the College of Management Lifetime Service Award, Honors Fellow, the Francis Cabot Lowell Alumni Award and Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee. The Shapiros, who live in Lowell, have served on the Commencement Eve Host Committee.
Mucica was a visiting assistant professor in the Manning School of Business and director of its graduate programs, as well as coach of the university’s golf team before his death in July 2012. Prior to that, he and his wife established the Gary and Sally Mucica Endowment Fund for business programs and also supported the Athletics Department. Gary Mucica, who graduated from Lowell Technological Institute and Suffolk University with degrees in business administration, was a member of the Manning School of Business Advisory Board and Building Committee, the Commencement Eve Host Committee, College of Management 50th Anniversary Steering Committee and Chancellor Meehan’s Honorary Inaugural Committee. He spent nearly 30 years in sales and marketing management in the consumer products industry with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Andrew Jergens, Salada Foods and The Clorox Co. and previously received alumni honors including the Francis Cabot Lowell Award and the James T. Smith Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Top student award winners to be recognized at the Commencement Eve Celebration include co-valedictorians Owen Welsh of Nahant, a mathematics major, and James DiMento of Georgetown, a business administration major, who will both receive the Trustees Key for completing all four years of undergraduate study at the university with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Welsh will also receive the Chancellor’s Medal for Academic Achievement for the College of Sciences and DiMento has earned the medal for the Manning School of Business.
Chancellor’s Medals for Academic Achievement will also be awarded to Jenna Montgomery of Townsend, a psychology major; Heidrun Ryan of Littleton, history; and Ashley Anthony of Middleton, English (College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences); Karalyn Forte of Lowell, clinical lab sciences (School of Health and Environment); Eric Kehoe of Derry, N.H., mathematics (College of Sciences); Michael Shustack of Boston, civil engineering (Francis College of Engineering); Rebecca Mayer of Brattleboro, Vt., and William Froehlich of Marlton, N.J., both liberal arts majors, and Indira Persand Hooloomann of Acton, information technology (Division of Online and Continuing Studies).
The University Scholar-Athlete Award will be presented to Gia O’Connor of Dracut, an exercise physiology major and member of the women’s soccer team.
The Chancellor’s Medal for Student Service will be awarded to Jemima Abankwa of Worcester, a biology major, and Rudy Baez of Lawrence, Brian Dano of Merrimack, N.H., Gianni Falzone of Saugus, Vanessa Kent of Charlton and Eric Peary of Woburn, all business administration majors. The University Medal for Community Service winners are Justin Kopec of South Hadley, a psychology major; Geoffrey Korir of Lowell, biomedical engineering; Jessica Lynch of North Dighton, exercise physiology; and Erin Webster of Littleton, computer engineering.
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 16,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, engineering, education, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, liberal arts, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu