Last fall, CNBC’s Ron Insana stepped into Moloney Hall for the Annual DifferenceMaker Celebration. Insana was the main attraction for the sold-out event, which raised funds for the popular program that fosters student entrepreneurship. Then, a surprise: Dean Kamen, the New Hampshire-based engineer and Segway inventor, strolled in.
The Room Buzzed
On the heels of both men was a smiling Ed Gallagher ’84, recently retired senior vice president and general manager of sales for Comcast Corp.’s Northeast Division. Comcast sponsored the evening, and Gallagher is friends with Insana and Kamen, the latter of whom announced he was “here to recruit” UML students for his company.
Having both experts made for a memorable night, but it was also emblematic of the connection between the university and Comcast. None of it would have happened without Gallagher’s connections, nor Comcast’s support.
The students loved it.
“The next day, my e-mail inbox was flooded with thank-yous from students,” says Holly Butler ’11, ’13, the university’s entrepreneurial initiatives project director, who oversees DifferenceMaker. “There aren’t many times the likes of Ron Insana and Dean Kamen are in the same room, and Ed and Comcast made that possible for our students.”
Comcast is a Fortune 50 company, the largest broadband provider in the country. It is also the provider on campus offering more than 100 live channels through Comcast Xfinity as well as other TV services and on-demand and DVR capability. The service is included in students’ room and board fees.
“At Comcast, we consider the university a partner, not a customer,” says Gallagher, who retired in March.
A month after Insana spoke, Comcast was among the sponsors of Oprah Winfrey’s appearance at the UMass Lowell Chancellor’s Speaker Series, a windfall fundraiser for student scholarships.
“I’m so appreciative for what UMass Lowell did in helping me launch a career. … Being involved as an alum has made me realize how blessed I was to be there.” -Edward Gallagher ’84, retired senior vice president at Comcast Corp.
“It was just surreal,” says Gallagher. “It was a proud day. Getting her to the city, to be here for it, was something. I just love to see Lowell shine like that.”
Comcast is also a visible sponsor of athletic events across campus, and every time students and other Lowellians pack the Tsongas Center for a hockey game, Senate debate, graduation or pop concert, they’re entering a building managed by Spectra, a Comcast company. Spectra (formerly Spectacor) has been running the arena since July 2010.
“We are absolutely happy with our partnership with Spectra,” says UML’s Director of Athletics Peter Casey, who just finalized another long-term deal with the management company. “Partnering with them definitely gives us some advantages, especially in terms of booking events. They use their relationships and leverage. This is what they do, after all.”
Comcast also works to help the greater Lowell community, with an annual Comcast Cares day of community service.
A Shared Work Ethic
Dozens of UMass Lowell graduates work in Comcast’s Greater Boston regional office, according to the company, from entry-level positions to management.
Gallagher, a business management graduate who minored in computer science and math, is emblematic of one consistent trait over time for UML grads, and one Kamen emphasized that he sees in UML students: they’re hard-working.
Gallagher was a first-generation college student, holding the job he began in high school, working nights at Raytheon.
“I started college at Northern Essex, and at that point I still didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “I needed to go to a school where I could work at night, and being from Methuen, this was one of the few choices I had. But something clicked when I transferred to UMass Lowell. I don’t know if I realized it until much later. But I had some amazing teachers.”
After graduation, Gallagher began a series of jobs in telecom and tech, landing with Comcast 12 years ago.
He feels strongly about his alma mater. A member of the Manning School of Business Deans Advisory Board, he was also involved in securing Comcast sponsorship of athletic events and the Center for Irish Partnerships.
“Giving back is always important, but giving back to the community at UMass Lowell is especially important to me,” says Gallagher. “I’m so appreciative for what they did in helping me launch a career. As a student, I didn’t always recognize the community. I was so busy with everything at the time, but being involved as an alum has made me realize how blessed I was to be there.
“If I had gone to Boston College or somewhere, I don’t think it would have worked out as well. I am so thankful that UMass Lowell was there for me.”