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‘Survivor,’ Visionary, Comic Headline Opening Week at UMass Lowell


Class of 2014 Gets First Taste of Campus Life

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ  When the Class of 2014 arrives on campus this weekend, the first-year college students can expect to hear about how they can overcome life’s challenges through strength of character, creativity and determination. And they can also expect a few laughs.

It’s all part of their first taste of the exciting campus life UMass Lowell offers, which will be highlighted during Opening Week through special events and opportunities to get involved with student-run organizations of all kinds.

“We know that a vibrant campus life is an important part of students’ overall college experience. Through activities and organizations run by their peers, UMass Lowell students learn about community service, diverse cultures and backgrounds, and gain experience in fields from technology to the arts,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan. “National studies show that students who live on campus and engage and participate are more likely to succeed academically.”

This fall, UMass Lowell will welcome nearly 2,500 new students, who will move into residence halls on Saturday, Aug. 28. All other students move in Sunday, Aug. 29 and classes start Wednesday, Sept. 1. Nearly 40 percent of UMass Lowell students live in university housing and those 3,000 students have the choice of traditional residence halls, apartments and the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, located in the city’s downtown arts and business district.

Opening Week programs kick off on Sunday and include “Survivor” Ethan Zohn ߝ who won the popular TV contest and beat cancer ߝ sharing his story of how he tackled both during a program at 3:30 p.m. at the Campus Recreation Center, 1 Pawtucket St., Lowell.

Zohn, a Massachusetts native, is leading a new campaign, “Survivor Stands Up to Cancer,” that launched Aug. 17 with the goal of raising money for Stand Up to Cancer, which funds research into groundbreaking new treatments for disease. Zohn, who was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009, underwent a stem-cell transplant earlier this year and is in remission.

First-year students will be officially welcomed to the university community at Convocation on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. The keynote speaker is Bill Strickland, winner of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and more than 10 honorary degrees for his work to combine the arts, job training and culture to fuel positive social change. Strickland began his own personal transformation as an inner-city high school student more than 40 years ago when he saw a talented art teacher spin a mound of clay into a work of art on a potter’s wheel.

Strickland, his creativity ignited, used art to inspire other youths from his Pittsburgh neighborhood through the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, an after-school program he founded while still a college student. Today, he leads the Manchester Bidwell Corp., a national model for education, culture and hope that works with both adults and youths to provide market-driven career education and training.

Convocation will also introduce the Class of 2014 to two of the 24 new student organizations founded since the same time last year, the UMass Lowell Gospel Choir and the new a cappella singing group, “Hawkappellas.”

Following Convocation, students are invited to a barbecue outside the Tsongas Center that features a club fair where they can find out about UMass Lowell’s 130 student-run organizations and how to participate.

“The education our students receive outside the classroom through participating in student-run organizations will help them become well-rounded individuals and members of the global community,” said Meehan.

“It’s exciting to see more students than ever before involved in the planning and running of activities on campus,” said Dean of Students Larry Siegel.  “Our students’ commitment and involvement in the university and the community show that they value their experience here at UMass Lowell.”

Opening Week activities will also include a downtown scavenger hunt beginning at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center; the annual River Hawks on the Roof party with bands, prizes and refreshments on the top of the East Campus Garage; a pep rally with UMass Lowell sports teams and coaches; a dodgeball tournament; outdoor movies; and day trips for whitewater rafting and to tour Boston. Students will also get to see UMass Lowell field hockey and soccer in action, as well as the Boston Red Sox minor-league affiliate the Lowell Spinners at LeLacheur Park, located adjacent to East Campus.

Opening Week nears its conclusion on Saturday, Sept. 4 with the comedy of Kevin Hart at the Campus Recreation Center at 9 p.m. Hart, who is in the midst of a national tour, is known for his versatility as a comic and actor. He appeared in the drama “Not Easily Broken” opposite Morris Chestnut and Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson and in comedic roles in “Scary Movie 3,” “Along Came Polly,” “Soul Plane” and “Fool’s Gold.” He starred in a one-hour standup special on Comedy Central and has appeared on TV series including “The Big House,” which he executive-produced and wrote; “Barbershop”; “Undeclared”; and hosted BET’s classic stand-up comedy series, “Comic View: One Mic Stand.” Tickets to the show are $10 for students and $15 for the public, and are available at

For full details on Opening Week and other back-to-school events, check out

UMass Lowell, 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 13,000 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. .

For more information, contact or 978-934-3224