LOWELL -- As graduates at the University of Massachusetts Lowell commencement ceremony yesterday looked forward to new beginnings, retiring Lowell Chancellor William Hogan was honored for what was ending.
This was Hogan's final graduation ceremony as chancellor.
UMass Lowell board of trustees Chairman James Karam told the 2,000 graduates, family and friends who gathered at the Tsongas Arena yesterday that graduation is a time to celebrate accomplishments.
Hogan "invented and reinvented the modern-day UMass Lowell,'' Karam told the crowd.
Hogan, 73, announced on May 1 that he is retiring after more than four decades at the Lowell campus, including 25 years as its chancellor.
Although Hogan asked that nothing special be done in his honor, Karam told the capacity crowd that it was Hogan's "vision and determination'' that turned UMass Lowell into an institution for higher learning that "pushed the envelope'' and "raised the bar.''
State Sen. Steven Panagiotakos told the graduates that Hogan guided the Lowell university into the UMass system and oversaw an "unspoken merger,'' uniting the university with the city of Lowell.
"The future of this university and this city is bright because of you,'' Panagiotakos told Hogan.
Panagiotakos told the graduates that they have had the opportunity to learn at UMass Lowell, and it is up to them to strengthen the state's higher-education system.
"You are the future UMass,'' he said. "You represent the best in all of us.''
Senior class representative Matthew MacDonald got the crowd revved up by asking his fellow graduates if they remembered being asked at orientation, "How do you feel?''
The crowd responded, "Fired up!''
"We are anxious to see what's coming and where we are going,'' MacDonald said. "The world should be, and is, fired up to see us coming.''
Hogan told the graduates that he is confident the graduates will make "valued and lasting contributions ... as we experience global transforming forces.''
Keynote speaker Nobel Prize winner Dr. Amartya Sen, an expert in economics and philosophy, told the graduates not to be "boxed in'' by a singular identity.
Terrorism and global violence fester and grow when the "foot soldiers'' consider themselves only part of one group.
But Sen, the former honorary president of OXFAM and a professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University, told the graduates that "in our normal life,'' people don't see themselves as part of one group.
We see ourselves as U.S. citizens with perhaps an Asian background, with a liberal bent, a vegetarian, heterosexual who believes in gay rights or a person "who might believe that aliens are widely present on Earth," Sen joked.
Education, he told the graduates, is something that offers a way to bring people together and eliminate disenchantment.
"Resist being put in little boxes that terrorists want to confine us (in)," he told the graduates. "Today is a reason to celebrate.''