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LOWELL ߝ Fifty years after the publication of Jack Kerouac’s most famous book, “On the Road,” the University in his hometown will honor him posthumously with an honorary doctorate of letters degree.
The award will be accepted by the executor of Kerouac’s literary estate, brother-in-law John Sampas, at the June 2, 2007 commencement ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Two weeks after that, the 120-foot “On the Road” scroll, upon which Kerouac’s manuscript was drafted in 1951, will be on display at the Boott Mills Cotton Museum in Lowell. The book was published in 1957.
“Jack Kerouac is synonymous with Lowell,” said John Wooding, UMass Lowell provost. “His books made Lowell a literary location known to the world, like Thoreau’s ‘Walden’ did for Concord. It is fitting for UMass Lowell to be the university that recognizes his achievement as one of the most important authors of the 20th century.”
This will be the only college degree awarded thus far to the famous writer, who is studied by English literature majors world-wide. Kerouac dropped out of Columbia University in his second year.
UML has a Kerouac Center for American Studies and offers a biennial Kerouac Conference on Beat Literature, directed by English Prof. Hilary Holladay, which draws Kerouac scholars and fans from the region and the world. Kerouac died in 1969 and is buried in Lowell.
Kerouac was nominated for an honorary degree by UMass Lowell’s Community Relations Director Paul Marion, who is an author and Kerouac scholar. Marion edited “Atop an Underwood,” a collection of Kerouac’s early work. UMass Lowell then recommended the honorary doctorate recipient to the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, which voted to accept it.
“Kerouac’s books are read and studied in colleges and universities around the world,” said Marion. “Kerouac has always been popular in the community of readers. With this honor, UMass Lowell welcomes him into the community of scholars.”
UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.