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News from UMass Lowell for Week of Jan. 29, 2018

Story and Source Ideas for Journalists

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UMass Lowell student, faculty and alumni musicians who perform in the University Orchestra will present the group's free winter concert on Friday, Feb. 9 at Durgin Hall.


This is a notice of upcoming events, photo opportunities and story ideas at UMass Lowell, compiled by the Office of University Relations, 978-934-3224. In case of inclement weather, call UMass Lowell’s weather hotline at 978-934-2121; if the university is closed, events are canceled. For more news about UMass Lowell, visit Please note that contact names below are for the media and are not for publication.

Sources of the week
UMass Lowell faculty experts are available to discuss:
  • President Trump’s first State of the Union address tomorrow, including how the Democratic response to the speech by Massachusetts’ U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III may test him on the national stage;
  • Americans’ conflicting love of football and concern over concussions as fans wait on whether Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski will play in Sunday’s Super Bowl;
  • The rare convergence of a lunar eclipse with the Blue Moon and Super Moon coming early Wednesday, the first time such an astronomical phenomenon has been visible in North America since 1866; 
  • Target’s rollout this week of same-day delivery services for groceries, electronics and home goods in select markets, the latest attempt by brick-and-mortar retailers to compete with Amazon.  
Contact UMass Lowell media relations if you need an expert source on any subject.

Philosophy of ‘The Big Lebowski’ is Focus of Film Series Event

When and where:  Monday, Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m. The Luna Theater, Mill No. 5, Fourth Floor, 250 Jackson St., Lowell

What:  Mistaken identity, the pursuit of retribution and the consequences of being called “The Dude” will be among the plot points discussed following a free showing of the film “The Big Lebowski,” the Coen brothers’ comedy starring Jeff Bridges, which has become a cult classic since its release in 1998. Aaron Shepard, a faculty member in UMass Lowell’s Philosophy Department, will lead a discussion about the main character’s laid-back approach to life with film-goers. Open to the public, the event is the first in this spring’s UMass Lowell Philosophy and Film Series, which features faculty members offering their insights on themes and questions raised by well-known movies. Members of the public may visit for more information.

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209, 

Events Honor MLK’s Legacy, ‘Freedom Summer’ of 1964

What: UMass Lowell will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. at events this week with civil rights activists and the public that celebrate his memory and encourage the community to advance the themes of his work. The programs are organized by the UMass Lowell Office of Multicultural Affairs and include: 
  • The MLK Celebration Dinner – Members of the public and university community who exemplify King’s commitment to social justice will be honored with Distinguished Service Awards at this annual event, held each year at the start of the spring semester. Artwork and essays by Lowell public schoolchildren that illustrate King’s beliefs in personal dignity and the pursuit of excellence will also be honored. Tuesday, Jan. 30, 5:30 p.m. University Crossing, 220 Pawtucket St., Lowell.
  • “Freedom Summer” Roundtable Discussion – In 1964, Polly Allen was one of thousands of civil rights workers, student leaders and other volunteers who participated in “Freedom Summer,” a nonviolent movement to integrate Mississippi’s political system. Allen and other activists will share their memories of that turbulent time and talk about the state of the civil rights movement today at this free presentation for the campus and community. Wednesday, Jan. 31, 4 to 6 p.m. University Crossing, Room 255, 220 Pawtucket St., Lowell.
Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,  

Exhibit Sheds Light on the Impact of Color
When and where: Artist’s talk – Wednesday, Jan. 31, 3:30 p.m. at O’Leary Library Learning Commons, Room 222, South Campus, 61 Wilder St., Lowell. Artist’s reception – Wednesday, Jan. 31, 5 p.m. at the University Gallery, South Campus, 870 Broadway St., Lowell 
What: “Color: A Love Story” will showcase the work of Anna Von Mertens, who draws on modernist painting, pop art, quilting and other crafts to create her art. New drawings based on emojis and icons on smartphones will be exhibited, along with some of Mertens’ quilts and other installations. The show, along with an artist’s talk and reception during which Mertens will share her thoughts about her creative process, are free and open to the public and campus community. The exhibit is curated by Kirsten Swenson, a UMass Lowell professor of art history, and presented by the Department of Art and Design and runs through Saturday, March 3 at the University Gallery; hours are Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members of the public who would like more information about the exhibit or the events should email
Contacts for media: Deborah Santoro, gallery coordinator, 978-934-3491, or Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, 

Event Explores What Makes Life a Fulfilling Journey

When and where: Wednesday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m. Weekly programs are held each Wednesday through Feb. 21. University Suites, Room 106A, East Campus, 327 Aiken St., Lowell

What: UMass Lowell Philosophy Prof. John Kaag will lead a program for members of the university’s Learning in Retirement Association exploring the relationships and pursuits that make life meaningful. Kaag’s acclaimed memoir “American Philosophy: A Love Story” examined similar themes as it chronicled his efforts to restore a cache of priceless books written by famous philosophers he discovered in an abandoned library in New Hampshire. Offering enrichment classes and activities for adults, LIRA is more than 200 members strong and presents programs that include visits to museums, discussions about classic and contemporary literature and explorations of local, U.S. and world history. Members of the public who would like more information on how to join may visit

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,

University Orchestra Raises Curtain on Free Winter Concert 

When and where: Friday, Feb. 9, 8 p.m. Durgin Hall, South Campus, 35 Wilder St., Lowell

What: The University Orchestra will present a free concert for the campus and public that will showcase the talents of UMass Lowell student, faculty and alumni musicians. The ensemble performs classical and other works from the 18th and 19th centuries, along with contemporary compositions under the direction of Mark Latham of the UMass Lowell Music Department. Selections for this program will include composer Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5.” 

Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,