LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell
today celebrated the start of the new academic year with the official welcome for the university’s largest and most diverse group of new students, symbols of the record growth of the institution, which has reached the 18,000 mark in total enrollment for the first time in its history.
More than 3,200 new first-year and transfer students have enrolled at UMass Lowell for the fall semester, the largest number in university history. This year’s freshman class has an average SAT score of more than 1220 and high-school GPA above 3.5.
Through record numbers of new students every year since 2007 and rising student success rates – including an 86.6 percent continuation rate for freshmen – UMass Lowell has increased enrollment by 55 percent, more than 6,300 students, in 10 years. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranks UMass Lowell as the fastest-growing public doctoral university in New England and the fifth-fastest growing in the U.S. UMass Lowell is also the second-fastest rising institution in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities ranking since it was first included on the list in 2010.
“You are attending UMass Lowell at an incredible time in the university’s history,” Chancellor Jacquie Moloney
told new students at Convocation today at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. She pointed to the 14 new properties opened by UMass Lowell since 2009, including state-of-the-art academic and research buildings, new residence halls and student centers, as well as the university’s rising rank on the Chronicle of Higher Education and U.S. News & World Report lists. “These are just a few of the many breakthrough rankings and records we have had in the last few years.”
Convocation served as the official start of the UMass Lowell careers for the Class of 2021, which includes more than 600 new Honors College
students who are part of the more than 1,670 enrolled, the largest number in the college’s history. The new students are the most diverse group to enroll at UMass Lowell, with 34 percent who identify themselves as being from underrepresented populations.
UMass Lowell is as proud of the inclusive culture of the university community as it is of rankings and growth, said Moloney, a UMass Lowell graduate who is the first woman to lead the university in its history.
“Here, we are united in our commitment to working with you to make sure that your education is transformational, and to engaging with you in research and service learning that enables you to make a difference,” she said. “Here, we are one community, regardless of race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity. Here, we celebrate our differences, and believe that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths.”
Laurence Siegel, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and events, echoed those thoughts. “What does it mean to be a true River Hawk? We are pragmatic, hardworking, unentitled,” he said. “These are the shared values that are felt throughout the campus. True River Hawks challenge others to learn, do and be more.”
Both Siegel and Moloney urged the students to make time during their UMass Lowell experience to make a difference. Moloney offered the examples of UMass Lowell student Benjamin McEvoy, an entrepreneurship major from Dunstable who recently volunteered with a nonprofit to build houses for a community in need in the Dominican Republic and was honored by the Boston Red Sox for his work.
Activist Benjamin O’Keefe, whose work to end size-based discrimination by retailers at just age 21 grew into a global movement, shared his experience about the power of young voices to create change in their lives and the lives of others.
O’Keefe told the audience about the difficulties he faced growing up, including the bullying that led him to attempt suicide in eighth grade, and encouraged students to be inclusive and to speak up to help others, especially those marginalized by society.
“We all have a story and our stories have the power to change someone else’s story and then to change the world…Our actions have ripple effects and the good that we do can go on for years to come,” said O’Keefe, 23, who has worked for MoveOn.org and now runs his own production company. “This is more than a campus; this is a community of people who are responsible to each other. Be willing to seek out new people and experiences because those are the things that will help you grow.”
Student Government President Lisa Degou, a math and political science major, and Student Trustee Malinda Reed, an English and history major, both from Lowell, also participated in the Convocation ceremony.
“I, like many of you are a first-generation college student and I was raised by a single mother. I’m not afraid to say UMass Lowell was not my first choice. But here’s another truth: It should have been,” Degou told the students. “I truly believe there has never been a better time to enter this university.”
Following Convocation, UMass Lowell representatives including Moloney, Siegel and student Maria Condon, a nutritional sciences major from Burlington, joined Lowell Mayor Edward Kennedy and City Manager Kevin Murphy to celebrate the opening of River Hawk Village. The 14th new property opened by UMass Lowell since 2009, the new residential complex welcomed more than 780 residents over the weekend.
Eighty-eight percent of this year’s incoming freshmen live in university housing, up from 81 percent in 2016. Research shows that students who live on campus are more successful academically and are more connected to their institution. This year, more than 4,900 students live in UMass Lowell’s residence halls and more than 1,700 of residents participate in living-learning communities based on shared interests and studies.
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 18,000 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, 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.