UMass Lowell Raises $700,000 for Scholarships

Record-Breaking Commencement Eve Gala Honors Excellence

Commencement Eve honorees

Chancellor Marty Meehanwith honorary degree recipients Rear Adm. Susan J. Blumenthal (ret.) and Robert Ward ’71, chairman of Emergence Venture Partners LLC; and Distinguished Alumni Award winner John Pulichino ’67, chief executive officer of Group III International, Ltd.


UMass Lowell raised nearly $700,000 for student scholarships through its annual Commencement Eve Celebration held on Friday, May 25, surpassing last year’s amount and marking another consecutive record-breaking year. Since 2008, more than $2.2 million has been raised.

The fifth annual gala gave the public and University community the opportunity to meet Commencement speaker U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and hear from the 2012 honorary degree recipients and the Distinguished Alumni Award winner in their only speaking engagement of the weekend. The event was held at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. 

Outstanding UMass Lowell students, including top academic achievers in each school and college, as well as students who have made outstanding contributions to the community and the University, were recognized during the program. Eight of this year’s award winners had perfect 4.0 grade point averages. 

“Commencement Eve has become a showcase of all we celebrate about the UMass Lowell community: scholarship, generosity and service. As we come together to honor exceptional graduates, alumni and public leaders, we are gratified so many friends support the University with scholarship dollars that help lower the cost of education for current and future students, allowing them to acquire the knowledge and skills to achieve their dreams,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan at the event.

Other speakers included UMass President Robert Caret; honorary degree recipients Rear Adm. Susan J. Blumenthal (ret.), a public health champion who has served in the administration of four presidents, and medical device innovator Robert Ward ’71; and Distinguished Alumni Award winner John Pulichino ’67. U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, who is married to Blumenthal, and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas also participated in the celebration as well as Commencement Day activities.

Blumenthal is a leading federal government medical expert at the forefront of advancing women’s health, addressing emerging health threats like bioterrorism and obesity, and in fighting AIDS and violence. She is a pioneer in raising awareness about women’s health-care issues and gender differences in disease. She has served as U.S. assistant surgeon general, senior global and e-health adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services and as White House health adviser. Today she serves as director of the Health and Medicine Program at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and as a senior policy and medical adviser at amFAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. 

Ward is the chairman of Emergence Venture Partners, LLC, a Berkeley, Calif.-based venture capital company focused on applying cutting-edge biomaterials technology to develop medical devices. An expert in polymer science and technology, he holds many patents and established the world’s first commercial manufacturing process for the artificial heart. Materials and components developed and manufactured under Ward’s direction have been used in hundreds of devices including vascular grafts, stents, pacemakers, orthopedic implants and contact lenses. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UMass Lowell. He and his wife, Gail, recently committed more than $1 million to UMass Lowell to establish a professorship in biomedical materials development; the Robert and Gail Ward Biomedical Materials Laboratory in UMass Lowell’s new Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center; and an endowed scholarship fund for engineering students.

Pulichino, of Boca Raton, Fla., is the chief executive officer of Group III International Ltd., a global company based in Florida and founded by his wife, Joy Tong, an industrial designer. The company designs, manufactures and markets travel gear products under the Wenger Swiss Army knife trademark and numerous private label brands. In the late 1970s, Pulichino worked for Polaroid Corp. as director of industrial engineering. He moved on to American Tourister in 1980, where he became president and CEO and grew company sales from $30 million to $150 million before it was sold to Samsonite in 1993. Pulichino, who also holds a master’s degree in engineering management, earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial management at UMass Lowell. He and Tong recently donated $4 million for student scholarships. UMass Lowell will name its new business school building in their honor.

Some of the best and brightest members of the Class of 2012 were recognized at both the Commencement Eve Celebration and Commencement exercises. 

The co-valedictorians were Christian Elwood of Groton, a business administration major, and Anthony Fill of Littleton, a mechanical engineering major. Both Elwood and Fill were presented with the Trustees Key by James Karam, chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, for completing four years of undergraduate study at UMass Lowell with a grade point average of 4.0. In addition, both are the recipients of Chancellor’s Medals for Academic Achievement; Fill for the Francis College of Engineering and Elwood for the Manning School of Business. 

Also receiving Chancellor’s Medals for Academic Achievement were Hollie Letendre of Dracut, exercise physiology (School of Health and Environment); Neha Bhatis of Westford, biology, and Mikhail Lomakin of Groton, atmospheric science (College of Sciences); Tyson Streich of Framingham, criminal justice (College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences); and Wendy Massey of Hawley, Texas, Demetrios Costoyiannis of N.Y. and Nicholas Grand Glazer of Ann Arbor, Mich., all information technology majors (Division of Online and Continuing Education). 

The Chancellor’s Medals for Student Service were presented to Marck-Arthur Clerveau of Billerica, electrical engineering; Amy Delgado of Bridgewater, community health and sustainability; Janelle Diaz of Woburn, psychology; Analissa Iverson of Acton, sociology; Cynthia Mitchell of Tyngsboro, mechanical engineering, and Ashley Tello of Dracut, psychology.

The University Medal for Community Service was awarded to Merrytime Ebhohon of Lowell, electrical engineering; Abhishek Kumar of Lowell, physics; Darryl Parker of Charlotte, N.C., information technology; Timothy Phamduy of Lowell, biology; Brendan Riley of Lowell, health informatics and management; and Reynaldo Santana of Methuen, business administration.

Hannah Merullo of Wakefield, a criminal justice major, was presented with the University Scholar-Athlete Award. 

See the photo gallery from the event.