LOWELL -- An office on the second floor of Cumnock Hall will never be the same, as Dr. William Hogan, the "father of UMass Lowell," ends his 43-year run at the university.
Friends, family, colleagues and students gathered in the Alumni Library on UMass Lowell's North Campus yesterday afternoon to say goodbye to the university's longtime chancellor.
"He kind of invented this place, and then he re-invented it, and then he re-invented it again and, most recently, he has re-invented it again," said UMass President Jack Wilson, to the 200 people standing around the podium.
Hogan started as a professor of mechanical engineering at the Lowell Technological Institute. Over the next 10 years, he moved up the ranks to become head of the Mechanical Engineering Department, acting dean of engineering, and dean of the newly formed College of Engineering in 1973.
In 1975, Lowell Tech merged with Lowell State College to create the University of Lowell. Hogan was appointed the first vice president of academic affairs and served as president of the school for a decade. He became chancellor when the school became part of the UMass system in 1991.
Hogan is credited with making the school competitive on a national level. In 2003, he initiated a 10-year plan to improve the way the faculty teaches and the students learn.
Most recently, he helped to develop plans for a $266 million renovation of the school's three campuses. The renovation aims to transform it into a bio- and nano-tech research and development center.
"Bill Hogan is leaving a big void here," said David MacKenzie, acting interim chancellor and executive director of the UMass Building Authority. "He built an excellent university out of the merger of two schools."
MacKenzie said he will serve as interim chancellor for nine to 12 months, during which time a search committee made up of faculty, trustees and community members will select a new chancellor.
Speakers applauded Hogan's clear vision, creativity and levelheadedness.
"Education is not about filling a pail, but lighting a fire," said Jean MacCormack, the chancellor at UMass Dartmouth, quoting William Butler Yeats.
Hogan was able to tend the fire for 43 years, she said.
"You have made a tremendous, tremendous difference in the lives of thousands and thousands of families who are connected with this university and those who live in this community," said state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos.
Hogan, a Chelmsford resident, has never hesitated to give back to the community, said Mayor Bill Martin. He was involved in the creation of LeLacheur Park, helped support the city's American League hockey team and developed a partnership between the university and the Lowell school system.
"Your work here will live on for generations," Martin said.
John Cox, who is resigning as Lowell's city manager next month, told Hogan they "should just change jobs," adding that he would win out on the exchange.
"I know the university will survive, but it will survive a little sadder without Bill Hogan here," Cox said.
Joyce Sullivan, assistant to the chancellor, has worked beside Hogan since he became chancellor. She will retire alongside him after 50 years at UMass Lowell.
"I don't even know what to say," she said solemnly. "It's just a big change. I can't even imagine this university without him."
Hogan stood in front of the podium quietly as his friends and colleagues praised him. He never wanted to be the center of attention, said Provost John Wooding, vice chancellor for academic affairs.
At the end of the ceremony, Hogan accepted a mantel clock from his staff, and his portrait was unveiled. In the painting, he stands behind a red chair with a soft smile, looking like the caring and compassionate leader that those close to him said he was.
Hogan ended the ceremony with brief words of wisdom.
"I have one request," he said to the faculty and administration who have helped him build the university. "Continue to do it."