LOWELL, Mass. – Actress Meryl Streep captivated a capacity crowd at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell tonight during the latest in installment in the Chancellor’s Speaker Series.
In addition to the memories the audience will have of Streep’s 90 minutes on stage, her appearance will leave a legacy that will continue for generations through the more than $230,000 raised by the event for two scholarship funds for UMass Lowell students established by Streep.
The new Meryl Streep Endowed Scholarship will assist outstanding UMass Lowell English majors and the Joan Hertzberg Endowed Scholarship will support students who excel in math as did the fund’s namesake, a former classmate of Streep’s.
Tonight’s event, “A Conversation with Meryl Streep,” featured the three-time Oscar winner discussing her career, which includes more than 100 roles on stage and screen and a record-setting number of Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. One of the most prolific actresses in history, Streep’s trademarks have been portraying real people, including British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “Iron Lady” and French chef Julia Child in “Julie and Julia,” and her perfectionism in preparing for roles, such as learning to play the violin and mastering countless dialects and accents. She has appeared in notable films such as “The Deer Hunter” and “Kramer vs. Kramer” in the 1970s, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and “Sophie’s Choice” in the 1980s, “Postcards from the Edge” and “The Bridges of Madison County in the 1990s and “Adaptation,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mamma Mia!” in the 2000s. She stars in the recent release “August: Osage County,” for which she earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and she has three other movies in production, including the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”
“Having Meryl Streep speak on our campus was undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our students, faculty, staff and the community,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “We greatly appreciate her generosity, both for sharing her time and experiences with us and for establishing two new scholarship funds for UMass Lowell students.”
Tonight’s sold-out audience of more than 3,600 included members of the public, UMass Lowell faculty and staff, as well as students, who received free admission to the event. Earlier in the day, Streep met with UMass Lowell students in a special program at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. Local schoolchildren also participated in the Tsongas Center event through the award-winning UMass Lowell String Project, which performed in the lobby prior to the start of the program.
Even those who were not in attendance at tonight’s event can have a memento of the evening. UMass Lowell is raffling off a director’s chair autographed by Streep to raise additional funds for scholarships. To participate in the online raffle, visit www.uml.edu/streep
“A Conversation with Meryl Streep” is the second event in the Chancellor’s Speaker Series
, which was launched in December 2012 with author Stephen King and raised more than $100,000 for a scholarship fund King and his wife established for UMass Lowell students.
Best-selling author Andre Dubus III, a professor in UMass Lowell’s English Department, served as the emcee for both the Streep and King events. Dubus said he hopes that UMass Lowell students not only learn from but are inspired by such world-renowned speakers.
“I hope students see these are regular people who do great things and that they realize that they can do great things, too,” said Dubus, who also noted the excitement on campus in the days leading up to tonight’s event with Streep. “When somebody of that stature comes to your school, it sends the message that this is a special place.”
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 17,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, 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. www.uml.edu