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Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis to Address UMass Lowell Graduates

Record Number to Receive Degrees at May 18 Commencement Ceremonies

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Contacts: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209, 978-758-4664 or
               Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

LOWELL, Mass. – Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, whose leadership in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings has personified the spirit of “Boston Strong,” will address graduates at UMass Lowell’s Commencement on Saturday, May 18.

“Commissioner Davis has been a symbol of strength not just for the city of Boston but for the entire Commonwealth and the nation during this most difficult time. His leadership and compassion, along with an approach to law enforcement that includes cutting-edge technology and community policing, have put him at the top of his field, not only in recent days but for the 30 years I have known him,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “He is an excellent role model for our students because he demonstrates how good leaders need not only top-notch skills in their professions, but must also have strong character and the ability to employ both in times of crisis.”

“I am truly honored,” Davis said. “I grew up Lowell and in many ways I still consider it home. This is a challenging time in the Commonwealth’s history. I am appreciative of the opportunity to address graduates who can and will make a difference in the world.”  

For the sixth year in a row, a record number – 3,169 graduates – will receive degrees, reflecting the 40 percent increase in enrollment at the university since 2007. UMass Lowell will hold two Commencement ceremonies on May 18; at 9 a.m. for bachelor’s degree recipients and at 3 p.m. for those receiving master’s and doctoral degrees. Both will be held at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Lowell. The graduate Commencement speaker will be Harish Hande ’98, ’00, a social entrepreneur whose career is devoted to providing India’s poor with solar energy.

Davis, who will speak at the undergraduate ceremony, has led the Boston Police Department since 2006. With more than 2,000 officers and 800 civilian employees, it is the 20th-largest law enforcement agency in the U.S. and the third-largest in New England. As commissioner, Davis has stressed community and predictive policing while implementing new initiatives, resulting in an annual decrease in serious crime in Boston. Previously, Davis served as superintendent of police in Lowell for 12 years, during which time Lowell saw a 60 percent reduction in crime and received honors including the National Civic League’s All-America City Award. Davis began his career in the Lowell Police Department in 1978 as a patrol officer, rising through the ranks to posts including detective and captain before becoming superintendent. A founding member of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association, Davis received the National Leadership Award from the Police Executive Research Forum and is in the Evidence-Based Policing Hall of Fame. He holds degrees in criminal justice from Southern New Hampshire University and Anna Maria College, and furthered his education through programs including a National Institute of Justice fellowship at Harvard University and Law Enforcement Executive Development Association program at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. Davis is the married father of three. 

In addition, Davis has brought his expertise to UMass Lowell’s Department of Criminal Justice (which will become the School of Criminology and Justice Studies on June 1), helping students integrate what they have learned in the classroom with his real-world experience, and collaborating with faculty on a number of initiatives. He has served on panels and as a guest lecturer, and recently participated in the annual Day Without Violence.

Hande, who earned a master’s degree in renewable energy engineering and a doctorate in mechanical engineering with a concentration in energy at UMass Lowell, co-founded Solar Electric Light Co. India in 1995. As SELCO’s managing director, Hande has pioneered access to solar electricity for more than half a million people in India, where more than half the population does not have electricity, through customized home-lighting systems and innovative financing. Hande received the 2011 Magsaysay Award, widely considered Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and was named One of 21 Young Leaders for India’s 21st Century by Business Today and Social Entrepreneur of the Year for 2007 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the Nand and Jeep Khemkha Foundation.  

UMass Lowell has asked the UMass Board of Trustees to take a special vote on April 30 to grant Davis an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to be conferred at the May 18 undergraduate ceremony. In addition to Hande and Davis (if approved), UMass Lowell will present honorary degrees to:
  • Nancy L. Donahue, a philanthropist and community volunteer in the Merrimack Valley, who co-founded Merrimack Repertory Theatre and has served on its board for all of its 34 seasons. She established the Nancy L. Donahue Endowed Professorship in the Arts to strengthen UMass Lowell music, arts and theater programs, and has supported several university scholarship funds, including for the Mary Jo Leahey Summer Band Camp. She has served on UMass Lowell’s Commencement Host Committee, the Chancellor's External Advisory Board and as executive director of the University of Lowell Foundation. Her community involvement includes serving as a trustee of Whistler House Museum of Art, Ayer Home Trust, Lasell College, Adolescent Consultative Services, Canalwater Cleaners and the New England Quilt Museum, which she helped establish in Lowell, as well as on the board of the American Textile History Museum and the local United Way chapter, where she was the first woman to chair the board. She was the National Philanthropy Day Honoree in 2005 and Girls Incorporated Celebration of Today’s Women Honoree in 1999. She resides in Lowell with her husband, Richard K. Donahue. 
  • Elisia and Mark Saab ’81, who have distinguished themselves in business and have generously supported UMass Lowell. The university’s new $80 million, state-of-the art academic and research facility was named the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center in their honor. Mark Saab has nearly 25 years of experience in the plastics industry, including 20 years in medical devices, and holds more than 30 patents. In 1989, he and Elisia Saab co-founded Advanced Polymers Inc., which produces innovative products including catheters and angioplasty balloons, and in 2010, merged with the company with MedTech Group of New Jersey. Mark Saab, who earned a degree in plastics engineering from the University of Lowell, serves as president of Advanced Polymers and on the MedTech board of directors. The Saabs’ support for current and future UMass Lowell students includes The Mark and Elisia Saab Endowed Professorship in environmentally friendly plastics; The Mark Saab Family Scholarship Endowment and the Saab Scholarship Fund for local students of Portuguese heritage and those studying plastics engineering; The Mark Saab Advanced Polymers Physical and Rheological Properties Testing Laboratory (sponsored by the Saabs’ company); and the new Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Partnerships. Mark Saab, a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, is a member of the Chancellor’s External Advisory Board, College of Engineering Advisory Board, the Plastics Engineering Advisory Board and Chancellor Meehan’s Honorary Inaugural Committee. The Saabs, who live in Lowell, chaired UMass Lowell’s 2011 Commencement Eve Celebration, which raised more than $670,000 for scholarships, and have supported numerous community efforts in Lowell.

This year, the Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to two graduates: Bernard Shapiro ’56 and Gary M. Mucica ’71, who will be honored posthumously. 

Shapiro graduated from Lowell Technological Institute, and also studied at the U.S. Naval Academy and earned a master’s degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Shapiro began his academic career at Lowell Tech in 1962 when he was hired as an instructor in the Department of Economics and Management, going on to be promoted to assistant professor, associate professor and, in 1973, to full professor. He coordinated math instruction for students in the College of Management (now the Manning School of Business) from 1968 to 1996 and, after retiring, he served as evening supervisor for what is now the Division of Online and Continuing Education. Leadership donors who have supported many programs and initiatives at the university for more than 25 years, Shapiro and his wife established the Bernard and Yana Shapiro Endowed Scholarship Fund and he has received many honors, including the College of Management Lifetime Service Award, Honors Fellow, the Francis Cabot Lowell Alumni Award and Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee. The Shapiros, who live in Lowell, have served on the Commencement Eve Host Committee. 

Mucica was a visiting assistant professor in the Manning School of Business and director of its graduate programs, as well as coach of the university’s golf team before his death in July 2012. Prior to that, he and his wife established the Gary and Sally Mucica Endowment Fund for business programs and also supported the Athletics Department. Gary Mucica, who graduated from Lowell Technological Institute and Suffolk University with degrees in business administration, was a member of the Manning School of Business Advisory Board and Building Committee, the Commencement Eve Host Committee, College of Management 50th Anniversary Steering Committee and Chancellor Meehan’s Honorary Inaugural Committee. Mucica – who spent nearly 30 years in sales and marketing management in the consumer products industry with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Andrew Jergens, Salada Foods and The Clorox Co. – previously received alumni honors including the Francis Cabot Lowell Award and the James T. Smith Award for Lifetime Achievement. 

The honorary degree and distinguished alumni award recipients, including Davis and Hande, will participate in the annual Commencement Eve Celebration on Friday, May 17 at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. The program, which also honors student academic service award winners, is a benefit for student scholarships that last year raised $700,000. The university recently established the UMass Lowell Boston Marathon Scholarship Fund, which will benefit any member of the university community, including their families and alumni, who has been affected by the bombings and wants to pursue an education at UMass Lowell.

For more information on the honorees and Commencement activities, visit

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 16,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health and environment, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.