By Robert Mills
LOWELL -- The UMass Lowell Chancellor's Speaker Series is going to get off to a scary start.
Best-selling horror author Stephen King will be on campus Dec. 7 to speak at the Tsongas Center in the first installment of a speaker series that will aim to take advantage of the forum the center provides.
King will also lead a special master class for creative-writing majors during his visit, giving students a chance to learn from one of the leading authors of our time.
The university has drawn famous speakers before, including Billy Joel, who visited the campus last year, but Chancellor Marty Meehan said the new series will take advantage of the larger forum the Tsongas Center provides.
"We're always bringing speakers to campus, but we'd like, since we now have the Tsongas Center, to bring in speakers where we can draw 5,000 or 6,000 people," Meehan said.
Meehan said the series will bring notable figures to both the university and the community.
"It's an honor to have a writer the caliber of Stephen King here in the city," Meehan said. "We want to bring people at the top of their fields to campus to speak with our students, but also to speak to the community."
"A Conversation with Stephen King" is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m., with Andre Dubus III, a UMass Lowell professor and best-selling author, moderating the discussion between King and guests.
Meehan said Dubus, who as a best-selling author already knew King, took the lead on drawing the famous author to campus.
The university announced Tuesday that King and his wife Tabitha plan to donate King's speaking fee back to the university to endow a new scholarship fund in their names. Stephen and Tabitha King will also donate $5 from every ticket sold.
"Writing requires not just a creative mind and some good ideas, but also dedication to the craft. I look forward to sharing my experiences as a writer and the lessons I have learned with UMass Lowell students and the public," King said in a prepared statement released by the university.
Meehan said he is proud of how all programs at the university have developed in recent years, but he singled out the English Department, which is co-sponsoring this event.
"To bring in someone like Stephen King and to have him speak to our English students is just a great, great opportunity," Meehan said. "We want creative-writing majors at UMass Lowell to get these kinds of opportunities."
Tickets will be available through the Tsongas Center box office starting June 1. Admission will be free for all UMass Lowell students with valid student identification. Tickets for the public are $32 for general admission, or $52 for reserved floor seating.
The Tsongas Center box office can be reached at 866-722-8780 or tsongascenter.com.