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Manning to Address Record Number of Graduates at Commencement


Alum Announces Multimillion-Dollar Commitment to Build New College of Management

LOWELL, Mass. – Robert Manning ’84, one of UMass Lowell’s most successful alumni and the head of a company that manages more than $240 billion in assets, will speak to a record number of graduates at Commencement on Saturday, May 28 at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

Manning and his wife, Donna, also a UMass Lowell graduate, will be presented with honorary doctoral degrees during the ceremony. But they will be giving UMass Lowell an even bigger gift: a multimillion-dollar commitment that will result in more than $5 million toward a new College of Management building and the newly named Robert Manning School of Business. The College of Management has graduated more than 13,000 in its 53 years and enrolls more than 2,000 students annually.

“UMass Lowell’s College of Management gave me the education I needed to be a success. When I began my career in the investment world, I was competing against graduates of some of the most prestigious schools in the world. I did a better job than all of them not because I was smarter or worked harder, but because I was better educated than they were,” said Manning.

Rob Manning joined MFS Investments after graduating in 1984, working his way up through the ranks to the top position of chief executive officer and chairman of the Boston-based company, which has been in business since 1924 and has more than 1,800 employees in operations around the world. He served on the UMass Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2010. Donna Manning holds nursing and master of business administration degrees from UMass Lowell. She has worked as an oncology nurse for more than 25 years at Boston Medical Center, where she has received top awards for excellence in patient care. Both are originally from Methuen and live in Swampscott, and their previous contributions to UMass Lowell include endowing scholarships for business and nursing students.

“We are honored and humbled by the generosity of Rob and Donna Manning. Their leadership will help the College of Management continue its more than 50-year history of excellence and ensure future graduates are work-ready,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. 

The proposed College of Management building would be the third new construction project on the UMass Lowell campus, which previously went more than three decades without a new academic building. The Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center on North Campus and the Health and Social Sciences Building on South Campus both broke ground during the past year.

The Mannings’ multimillion-dollar commitment, announced today, is the 10th $1 million or more gift received during the Chancellor Meehan administration to support new buildings, academic programs and student scholarships. Other top donors include Roy Zuckerberg ’58, Mark Saab ’81 and Elisia Saab, Charles Hoff ’66, David Pernick ’41, John Kennedy ’70, James Dandeneau ’80, Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, Robert Ward ’71 and Mary Jo Leahy ’37.

Andre Dubus III, best-selling author and UMass Lowell English professor, will also be honored during UMass Lowell’s Commencement ceremony, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday. Dubus will receive a Chancellor’s Medal and speak to the Class of 2011. Dubus is the author of five books including “House of Sand and Fog,” which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film, and his latest, “Townie,” a New York Times best-seller. 

For the fourth year in a row, a record number of students, more than 2,550, will graduate from UMass Lowell with associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

In addition to the Mannings and Dubus, four other distinguished individuals are being honored in conjunction with UMass Lowell’s Commencement. Honorary degrees will be presented to Stuart Mandell of Haverhill, former UMass Lowell professor and dean whose leadership led to the establishment of the College of Management, and artist Mico Kaufman of Tewksbury, known for his unique sculptures, many of which are on display around the Merrimack Valley, and his design of four presidential medals. The Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to John F. Kennedy ’70 of Naples, Fla., and formerly of Concord, whose business career included serving in top executive posts with Nova Ventures Corp., Nova Analytics Corp., RSA Security, Decalog NV and Natural MicroSystems. Barbara Hogan of South Africa, a noted anti-apartheid activist and former government official who was one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2009, received an honorary degree from UMass Lowell in April at the International Women Leaders Summit on Security through Economic and Social Development. 

This year’s student speaker is Vinicius Diniz of Billerica, who is receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. 

All of the honorees, as well as top student award winners, will be feted at the university’s annual Commencement Eve Celebration, proceeds from which benefit student scholarships, on Friday, May 27 at 6 p.m. at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. Last year’s event raised more than $500,000. The event is open to the public and tickets are available by contacting University Advancement at 978-934-3236.

More information on the honorees and Commencement is available at

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. The university offers its 14,000 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