With its global focus and strong community support, the University recently launched the new Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture.
The Center will work closely with UMass Dartmouth's Center for Portuguese Studies to sponsor local events, offer study abroad programs and coordinate faculty collaborations with Portuguese universities in Lisbon and Braga, says Luis Falcόn of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Funded by a $850,000 combined gift from Mark '81 and Elisia Saab, and Luis Pedroso, a Lowell High School alumnus and CEO of Accutronics Inc., the Saab-Pedroso Center joins the University's growing stable of global programs featuring nearly 100 countries on six continents.
“The establishment of the Center is timely as it supports our goals to strengthen links and learn from the communities that surround us, and to internationalize the University experiences,” says Dean Falcόn.
“I am personally committed to growing opportunities within the local Portuguese community,” Elisia Saab says. “There is a large and vibrant local Portuguese population and the UMass Lowell fellowship will enrich local Portuguese studies, assist community members in gaining a deeper understanding of the culture and help the Portuguese community preserve its heritage.”
The Saab-Pedroso Center was launched on March 28 at a reception featuring Portuguese food, music and literature at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. California author Anthony Barcellos read from his novel, "Land of Milk and Money," which is the story of a Portuguese family's journey from immigrant farmers to American agriculture powers.
"I'm a little overwhelmed over this whole thing," Pedroso told the crowd. "This is truly a huge occasion for the Portuguese community of Lowell and all of northern Massachusetts. I've been involved with the Portuguese community at UMass Dartmouth for 15 years or so and I said, 'We need to tie that to the Merrimack Valley also.' We're going to do great things."
Also celebrating the launch were Paulo Cunha Alves, consul general of Portugal in Boston; Chancellor Marty Meehan; UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman; Lowell Vice Mayor Joe Mendonca and New Bedford state Rep. Tony Cabral.
"The Portuguese language is the second most-spoken language in the state of Massachusetts after English," Alves said, noting that the Center's reach will be wide both locally and abroad.