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UMass Lowell Graduates Record Number for 4th Year in a Row


Commencement Speaker Rob Manning to Class of 2011: ‘You Can Accomplish Anything’

LOWELL, Mass. – Robert Manning ’84, one of the most successful alumni in UMass Lowell history, today delivered the Commencement address to the largest graduating class in the university’s history.

Manning told the Class of 2011 that they got a better education than many of their counterparts because, “not only did you learn the subject matter and pass the tests, you learned how to be great human beings.” 

Manning, chairman and CEO of Boston-based MFS Investment Management, and his wife, Donna, also a UMass Lowell graduate, both received honorary degrees during Commencement, the 20th since the university joined the UMass system. 

“When you hold that degree in your hand today, when you leave today, I want you to hold your head up, proud that you are a UMass Lowell graduate because it took a lot for you to earn that degree. You can accomplish anything and don’t ever let anyone get in your way,” said Manning, who received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. “I am not going to wish you good luck. You don’t need good luck. The people you are going to compete against need it.” Watch Manning’s speech at

The Mannings, who are both from Methuen and live in Swampscott, announced this week they are making a multimillion-dollar commitment that will result in more than $5 million toward constructing a new College of Management building and the newly named Manning School of Business. Robert Manning, who holds a degree in business administration from UMass Lowell and is a former chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees, heads MFS Investment Management, which oversees more than $240 billion in assets. Donna Manning holds nursing and master’s of business administration degrees from UMass Lowell and has been an oncology nurse at Boston Medical Center for 27 years. 

Best-selling author Andre Dubus III, a UMass Lowell English professor, also addressed the Class of 2011. Dubus shared stories from his youth in Haverhill, also the subject of his latest book, “Townie,” and how, while in his 20s when he was working in construction and getting into too many fights, he began writing and reading fiction.

“Something came alive inside of me. I didn’t feel like fighting anyone anymore,” Dubus told the graduates. “The Civil Rights leader Howard Thurman said, ‘Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive because the world needs people who come alive’… Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll be a success. Strive to find the work that makes you uniquely you.” See his speech at 

Chancellor Marty Meehan presided over the ceremony at which a record number of graduates – more than 2,570 – received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Since 2007, the number of students receiving degrees each year has increased by more than 500 students. UMass Lowell was recently ranked by the Chronicle of Higher Education as having the fastest-growing graduation rate among New England public research institutions.

“The past few years have been challenging times in our country. As you have climbed the ladder of higher education, you have been a part of the reality of economic distress, global conflict and heart-breaking social issues. We are confident that in climbing that ladder, you are better prepared to become a part of the solutions we desperately need in today’s world,” Meehan told the graduates, recognizing the work they have done at home and abroad to help others, from solar energy projects in Peru and water purification in Honduras to educating local residents on public health issues and organizing veterans to support those serving in war zones.

“It is my hope that you will remain active citizens who become deeply engaged in your communities, whether you define community as your hometown, your state, the nation or the world,” Meehan said. Watch Chancellor Meehan’s speech at

Graduating senior Michael Reid, a member of the UMass Board of Trustees and a business administration major from Ayer, introduced fellow graduate and student speaker Vinicius Diniz of Billerica. Originally from Brazil, Diniz was recognized by the College of Engineering for his work in the university’s Assistive Technology Program, received his U.S. citizenship and got married, all within two days earlier this semester. He will join IBM after graduation. 

“Like all of you, I faced challenges to arrive here. The challenges of coming to the United States were many. I faced a language barrier; long, late hours working as a busboy to pay my tuition; and, perhaps the most difficult: having to be on my own, 4,000 miles away from my family. I’ve learned that my experience is shared with so many UMass Lowell graduates: the desire to get an education and the commitment and determination to overcome challenges to open up the doors of opportunity,” Diniz said. “I consider myself blessed to be counted among UMass Lowell’s alumni, because I know that beyond being well-educated, we are moral and caring, and ready to give back to others.” 

UMass President Jack Wilson and UMass Board of Trustees Chairman James Karam also participated in the ceremony at which the following outstanding individuals were recognized with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees:

  • Stuart Mandell of Haverhill, a former UMass Lowell professor and dean. Over four decades at the university, his accomplishments include leading the establishment of the College of Management and being honored as University Professor. He and his wife, Ada, have made contributions to the university including endowing a scholarship for business students and providing a $250,000 gift annuity, the largest in the history of UMass Lowell and second-largest in the UMass system. 
  • Mico Kaufman of Tewksbury, a renowned sculptor whose work is displayed worldwide in museums, private collections and public spaces, including UMass Lowell’s South Campus. A native of Romania, Kaufman was training as a violinist when World War II interrupted his studies. He later studied sculpture in Rome and came to the United States as a refugee in the 1950s. He worked for several sculpture studios before opening his own in Tewksbury. He has distinguished himself in medallic portraiture, most notably as the only sculptor to be commissioned for four official U.S. presidential medals. 
  • Barbara Hogan of South Africa – a noted anti-apartheid activist 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. Hogan, who was a political prisoner along with Nelson Mandela and other members of the apartheid opposition, was active in restructuring South Africa’s government and went on to serve in Parliament and top government posts including minister of health and minister of public enterprises. She serves on the Amandla AIDS Fund advisory board, chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. 
  • The Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to John F. Kennedy ’70 of Naples, Fla., formerly of Concord. Kennedy is chairman of the College of Sciences Board of Advisers, served on the College of Management’s 50th Anniversary Campaign Committee, and was an assistant coach of the UMass Lowell golf team. He is a director of Harvard Bioscience Inc. and Datacom Systems Inc., and previously held top executive and financial posts with Nova Ventures Corp., Nova Analytics Corp., RSA Security Inc., Decalog NV and Natural MicroSystems Corp. He holds a bachelor’s degree in math from UMass Lowell and a master’s degree in accounting from UMass Amherst, and is president of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Foundation.
Student award winners were recognized at the Commencement Eve Celebration on Friday, May 27, which raised more than $670,000 for scholarships. Top honors went to valedictorian Keith Chamberlain of Burlington, an electrical engineering major who received the Trustees Key for completing all four years of undergraduate study at the university with a grade point average of 4.0, and the Chancellor’s Medal for Academic Achievement in the College of Engineering.

The other Chancellor’s Medals for Academic Achievement were awarded to Alexander Wall of Burlington, philosophy (College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences); Nicholas Tamvaklis of Lowell, business administration (College of Management); Bryan Crompton of Lowell, mathematics (College of Sciences), Robert Stephanic of San Francisco, Calif., information technology (Continuing Studies and Corporate and Distance Education); and Hannah May of Hardwick, exercise physiology (School of Health and Environment). The University Scholar-Athlete Award went to Brianne Bozella of Wilmington, an exercise physiology major. 

The University Medal for Student Service winners were Michael Reid, as well as Carly Arico of Waltham, majoring in business administration; David Boyd of Chelmsford, history; Adam Dunbar of Townsend, criminal justice; Michael Mizzoni of Littleton, political science; and Cailey Watson of Pepperell, political science. The University Medal for Community Service was presented to Josiah Bote of Bradford, biology; Kila Ngambong of Lowell, biology; Shivshankar Sivasubramanian of Lowell, plastics engineering; and Lucy Wafo of Lowell, biology. 

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, Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.
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