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UMass Lowell Honors Jack Kerouac, U.S. Rep. John Lewis


Close to 2,000 to Graduate on June 3

LOWELL ߞ; Lowell’s own Jack Kerouac will be awarded an honorary degree posthumously at UMass Lowell’s 2007 Commencement ceremony on June 3.  It will be the only such degree awarded thus far to the famous writer. 

Close to 2,000 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree candidates, joined by family and friends, will gather at Edward A. LeLacheur Park for commencement exercises beginning at 9:30 a.m.  U.S. Rep. John Lewis will serve as the commencement speaker. 

Kerouac is a literary icon studied in English classes worldwide.  The honorary degree will be given to the executor of Kerouac’s literary estate, brother-in-law John Sampas.   The Lowell native had dropped out of Columbia University in his second year and never received a degree.  The award from UMass Lowell comes fifty years after the publication of his most famous book, On the Road.  

Other honorary degree recipients are Donald LaTorre and Philip Leder. LaTorre is President of L&G Management Consultants in Holmes Beach, FL, the former President and COO for Englehard Corporation and a 1960 graduate of Lowell Technological Institute (UMass Lowell).  Leder is a professor and chair of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Mark A. Saab ’81 will be honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award.  Saab, who graduated with a degree in plastics engineering, has nearly 25 years of experience in the plastics industry, including 20 years in medical devices, and holds over 30 patents. A Lowell resident, Saab is the president, co-founder and co-owner of Advanced Polymers, Inc., in Salem, NH, which manufactures the world’s thinnest, strongest and smallest heat-shrink tubing and produces high- and low-pressure balloons for the medical device industry.

The commencement ceremonies also recognize students for outstanding academic and service achievements. This year's valedictorian will be named, along with recipients of the Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Academic Achievement.

Following the University-wide ceremony at the ballpark, master’s and bachelor’s degree candidates will receive their diplomas at individual college ceremonies, which will take place at noon at various locations on campus. Doctoral degree candidates will receive their diplomas at the university-wide event.

UMass Lowell Chancellor David J. MacKenzie will preside over the festivities. Incoming Chancellor Marty Meehan will be on hand to introduce commencement speaker Lewis, who he personally invited to speak.

Lewis is now serving his eleventh term as a congressman from Georgia.  He has been described as “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced” and has dedicated his life to protecting human rights and securing personal dignity.  His early experiences included leading the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. which helped secure passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.  Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize.
* Editor's Note:  Photos and bios available upon request

UMass Lowell, a comprehensive university with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

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