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Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis Inspires UMass Lowell Graduates

Record number receive degrees for sixth year in a row at Commencement events

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis at UMass Lowell Undergraduate Commencement 2013


Contacts: Christine Gillette, 978-758-4664 (c), 978-934-2209 (w) or
Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

LOWELL, Mass. – Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis brought his inspirational leadership to UMass Lowell today, addressing graduates at UMass Lowell’s 2013 Commencement. For the sixth year in a row, a record number of graduates – 3,169 – were awarded diplomas at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell.

“Every single day for the rest of your life is going to provide a learning opportunity for you,” Davis told the Class of 2013, who come from Massachusetts and 44 other states and 79 countries, 38 percent of whom will graduate with honors and 393 members of which have studied abroad in 33 different countries. “I’m here to tell you that virtually every decision I made from the moment I first learned about the explosions [at the Boston Marathon] was based on the totality of my learned life experiences that have spanned the more than three decades since I graduated with my first college degree.”

Davis – who has led the Boston Police Department, made up of more than 2,000 officers and 800 civilian employees, since 2006 – has been a symbol of “Boston Strong” because of his leadership in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. In his law enforcement career, which began in 1978 as a patrol officer in Lowell, 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 numerous awards. Davis, the married father of three, holds degrees in criminal justice from Southern New Hampshire University and Anna Maria College, and furthered his education through programs at Harvard University and the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. 

“So many of the nearly 80,000 alumni of this university are scattered to the four corners of the world, but many of them continue to give back to the place where they got their start, and they stand UMass Lowell Strong,” said Davis. 

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan presided over both the undergraduate ceremony, at which Davis spoke, and a second ceremony at which master’s and doctoral degrees were presented, during which social entrepreneur Harish Hande addressed graduates. It is the second year UMass Lowell has held two ceremonies because of the increase in graduates – up more than 250 since last year and more than 1,000 since 2007, a period that has seen a 40 percent increase in enrollment and rising retention.

“I know your potential for success. I am confident that you have much to offer society. I am grateful that you chose to attend UMass Lowell, and even more grateful that you’ve chosen to work hard to succeed here,” Meehan told graduates, citing the student body’s more than 120,000 hours of annual volunteer service as an example of how they are also willing to serve the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the country. “It is my hope that you will remain active citizens who become deeply engaged in your communities, because it is my experience and my belief that better towns, schools, neighborhoods, countries and societies result from citizens being involved and taking pride in where they live.”

In addition to Davis, the following outstanding individuals were recognized with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees:
  • 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, as well as serving in numerous volunteer roles with UMass Lowell and community and cultural organizations, including the Whistler House Museum of Art, Ayer Home Trust, Lasell College, Adolescent Consultative Services, Canalwater Cleaners, the New England Quilt Museum, the American Textile History Museum and the United Way. She lives in Lowell with her husband, Richard K. Donahue.
  • Elisia and Mark Saab ’81, who have distinguished themselves in business and service to the community and university, have generously supported UMass Lowell through support for scholarships, academics, research facilities and cultural studies. 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 and the new Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture was recently launched. 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 it with MedTech Group. 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. 

Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to:
  • Bernard Shapiro ’56, who graduated from Lowell Technological Institute, 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 as an instructor in the Department of Economics and Management, going on to be promoted to assistant professor, associate professor and full professor, coordinating math instruction for the College of Management (now the Manning School of Business) from 1968 to 1996, and after retiring, worked in what is now the Division of Online and Continuing Education. Leadership donors who have supported the university for more than 25 years, Shapiro and his wife, who live in Lowell, established the Bernard and Yana Shapiro Endowed Scholarship Fund and he has received many honors, including the College of Management Lifetime Service Award and the Francis Cabot Lowell Award. 
  • Gary Mucica ’71, who was honored posthumously. 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. Mucica, who graduated from Lowell Technological Institute and Suffolk University with degrees in business administration, served on many university advisory boards and committees. 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. 
Meehan presented the Chancellor’s Medal of Recognition – the highest non-academic award given by the university to individuals who have supported students, elevated the standing of the institution and inspired the community – to Riley Wetmore of Swanton, Vt.  Wetmore, a senior, was the captain of the UMass Lowell River Hawks men’s ice hockey team, which won this year’s Hockey East championship and competed last month at the Frozen Four for the NCAA Division I national championship for the first time in university history. He never missed a game in his 152-game UMass Lowell career, even when it meant playing at the national level with a broken hand. In addition, Wetmore met the demands of his marketing and management concentration in the Manning School of Business, earning the David Boutin Award for excellence and leadership in sports, academics and service to the university and community.

Phillip Geoffroy of Chelmsford, student member of the UMass Board of Trustees, introduced student speaker Mary-Kathryn Hazel of Chelmsford, a history major and Commonwealth Honors Program graduate who is one of only 15 students nationally to receive the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History’s History Scholar Award. Hazel will attend UMass Lowell’s Graduate School of Education this fall to earn a master’s degree in secondary education to help her reach her goal of teaching American history and government to high school students.  

“With our diverse experiences, we have enriched each other’s lives. From many backgrounds, we have forged a community. In doing so, we have prepared one another for the world that awaits us,” Hazel told fellow graduates. “When we share our cultures, our perspectives and ourselves with each other, we become students of humanity…this education will set us part when we leave here today. We leave as engineers and nurses, historians and musicians, the educators of the next generation and the innovators of the future. It will be our generation that answers the big questions and solves the toughest problems. We’re ready – ready to embrace uncertainty, to find our way and to make our mark.” 

Following her speech, Hazel introduced Senior Class President Jemima Abankwa of Worcester, a biology major and one of this year’s recipients of the Chancellor’s Medal for Student Service, for the presentation of the senior class gift.

UMass President Robert Caret also addressed the Class of 2013, congratulating UMass Lowell on going “places once unimaginable” and urging graduates “to be a positive force in the world.”

“Go out and make a name for yourself for your good deeds,” Caret said. “UMass graduates have changed the world from every conceivable perspective and now that same opportunity is at your doorstep.”

Other participants in the undergraduate ceremony included state Rep. Jonathan Zlotnick, a UMass Lowell alumnus; Lowell City Councilor William Martin; Henry Thomas III, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees; UMass Trustees Edward Collins Jr., Zoila Gomez ’00, Philip Johnston, Jeffrey Mullan and R. Norman Peters; Marcellette Williams, UMass senior vice president for academic affairs, student affairs and international relations; UMass Lowell Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney; Provost Ahmed Abdelal; Vice Provost for Graduate Education Donald Pierson; Luis Falcon, dean of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; and Jack Wilson, interim dean of the Francis College of Engineering. Members of the Air Force Reserve Training Corps presented the colors and graduating senior Matthew Corcoran of Ipswich, a music performance major, sang the national anthem. Other music was performed by the UMass Lowell Brass Choir and the Kevin Barry Irish American Pipes and Drums. The event included recognition of the 50th reunions of the Classes of 1963 of the Massachusetts State College at Lowell and Lowell Technological Institute, UMass Lowell’s predecessor institutions.

The graduate Commencement ceremony held in the afternoon featured the address by 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.  

Janet Johnson of Dracut, who received a graduate degree in peace and conflict studies, delivered the student address to those receiving master’s and doctoral degrees. Johnson, a former journalist from Liberia, was featured in a documentary on the battle for peace in the war-torn nation by Nobel Peace Prize winner and former UMass Lowell Greeley Scholar for Peace Leymah Gbowee.

Top student award winners were recognized at the Commencement Eve Celebration on Friday, May 17, which raised a record-breaking $725,000 for student scholarships, bringing the total for the six years the event has been held to $3 million. Co-valedictorians Owen Welsh of Nahant, a mathematics major, and James DiMento of Georgetown, a business administration major, both received the Trustees Key for completing all four years of undergraduate study at the university with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Both also received the Chancellor’s Medal for Academic Achievement, Welsh for the College of Sciences and DiMento for the Manning School of Business. 

Chancellor’s Medals for Academic Achievement were awarded to Jenna Montgomery of Townsend, a psychology major, history major Heidrun Ryan of Littleton and Ashley Anthony of Middleton, English (College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences); Karalyn Forte of Lowell, clinical lab sciences (School of Health and Environment); Eric Kehoe of Derry, N.H., mathematics (College of Sciences); Michael Shustack of Boston, civil engineering (Francis College of Engineering); Rebecca Mayer of Brattleboro, Vt., and William Froehlich of Marlton, N.J., both liberal arts majors, and Indira Persand Hooloomann of Acton, information technology (Division of Online and Continuing Studies). The University Scholar-Athlete Award went to Gia O’Connor of Dracut, an exercise physiology major and member of the women’s soccer team.  

In addition to Abankwa, the Chancellor’s Medal for Student Service was awarded to Rudy Baez of Lawrence, Brian Dano of Merrimack, N.H., Gianni Falzone of Saugus, Vanessa Kent of Charlton and Eric Peary of Woburn, all business administration majors. The University Medal for Community Service winners were Justin Kopec of South Hadley, a psychology major; Geoffrey Korir of Lowell, biomedical engineering; Jessica Lynch of North Dighton, exercise physiology; and Erin Webster of Littleton, computer engineering. 

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.