LOWELL -- Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham will address graduates at the May 19 UMass Lowell commencement ceremony at the Tsongas Center.
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, who became the first woman in 25 years to represent Massachusetts in Congress when she was elected in 2007, will be presented with the Chancellor's Medal in recognition of her tireless work for her district.
For the 11th-consecutive year, a record number of graduates, about 4,000, will receive degrees at UMass Lowell's Commencement ceremonies, which will be held at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on May 19.
Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, who is herself a UMass Lowell graduate, will preside over both ceremonies. "Jon Meacham and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas offer unique perspectives into American government and politics, and the importance of understanding how history and civic engagement have shaped our nation and will continue to do so into the future. We are fortunate to have two individuals who are so distinguished in their fields address the Class of 2018," she said.
Meacham, who penned "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power" and "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House," is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Society of American Historians. A former editor with Random House and Newsweek, he is a contributor to Time and The New York Times Book Review. In addition to Jefferson and Jackson, the subjects of his books have included George H.W. Bush, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and James and Dolley Madison. His latest book, "The Soul of America: The Battle of Our Better Angels," scheduled for release just days before Commencement, looks to history for hope and understanding of the nation's political divide.
"I am deeply honored to have been asked to be among your number at this amazing time in the lives of the UMass Lowell graduates and of our nation at large. I'm looking forward to talking about how the vision and values of the education the graduates have received can help them guide the rest of us through the stormy years ahead," said Meacham, who lives in Tennessee.
Tsongas represents Massachusetts' 3rd District as her late husband, Paul Tsongas, did three decades earlier, prior to his time in the U.S. Senate and as a presidential candidate. She is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee who has championed the prevention of sexual assault in the military, authored legislation to provide modern resources to the armed forces and worked to support veterans transitioning to civilian life. She serves on the Natural Resources Committee.
"UMass Lowell has done an unparalleled job of preparing young men and women to rise and meet the ever-growing challenges in our world today. I have had the privilege of representing UMass Lowell and the UMass Lowell community in Congress for the past decade and I look forward to celebrating the Class of 2018 with graduates and their families at cCommencement on May 19," Tsongas said.
Tsongas, who is leaving office at the end of her current term, will deliver the commencement address at the second ceremony.
This year's commencement festivities kick off Friday, May 18 at 10 a.m. with the dedication of Dandeneau Hall in honor of James Dandeneau '80 of Dayville, Conn,, and his family for their longstanding support of the university and its students, including scholarships, a research professorship and labs. The building dates back to the 1800s and Lowell Textile School, one of the university's predecessors. Thanks to the Dandeneau family - which also includes wife Deb, daughter Lauren and son Ryan, a 2010 UMass Lowell graduate - the future Dandeneau Hall has been renovated and will be home to student computer labs and space for engineering and computer science faculty.
UMass Lowell will recognize the honorees and student award winners at the annual Commencement Eve Celebration on Friday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m. at University Crossing, 220 Pawtucket St., Lowell. Since 2008, the benefit has raised millions of dollars for scholarships.