Tribute for Financial Aid Director

05/16/2008
By From the Lowell Sun

By Michael Lafleur

LOWELL -- UMass Lowell officials, with the help of university donors, have created a $25,000 scholarship endowment fund in honor of Richard Barrett, the school's former financial-aid director.

Barrett, the father of five children, retired after four decades at the university, shortly before losing his battle with pancreatic cancer last April. He was 67.

He is remembered for his open-door policy and his willingness to meet with students whenever they needed his help, particularly those facing financial difficulties. Many former students remember him fondly as a mentor.

Barrett's youngest child, Lowell attorney Martha Barrett, said her father loved his job and loved helping students achieve their dream of a college education. She said his family can think of no better tribute than a scholarship fund in his name that will help undergraduate students.

"No matter how he felt, he wanted to go to work, and he always talked about the students and he always had stories about it," she said. "Education was very important to my father. He thought everyone should have an opportunity to go to school and get that right financial-aid package."

Joyce McLaughlin, who succeeded Barrett as UML's financial-aid director, started out as one of his collegiate charges. He helped her get financial aid at the university and assisted her in getting a work-study job.

"I first met him when I was 18," said McLaughlin, who is now 34. "I got an opportunity to get close with him and know him. He was amazing how he helped the students. He really took the time to get to know the students and not only do his job, which is to find a way to financially obtain your degree, but he also gave them self-confidence and courage to be good young adults and responsible adults.
"He definitely was a mentor to them," she added. "Many of the students, including myself, looked up to him and kept a good relationship with him after graduation."

McLaughlin joined many of Barrett's other former university colleagues, his friends and family for a reception in his honor last night at UMass Lowell's Allen House, located on UMass Lowell's South Campus.

During his career, Barrett worked in several capacities, including business management, institutional research and financial aid. He also served as president of the management union for many years.

Born, raised and educated in Lowell, Barrett graduated from Lowell High School in 1957. He earned his undergraduate degree from St. Anselm's College in 1961 and served as an Army medic from 1961 until 1963.

After his discharge from the military, he spent five years as a teacher at St. Joseph's High School in Lowell before getting a job at the Lowell Technological Institute, one of the predecessor institutions for UMass Lowell.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Joan; his son, Richard; daughter, Mary Margaret; daughter, Catherine; son, Daniel; and daughter, Martha.