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Chancellor Welcomes Class of 2019

Follow your Bliss, Advises Clancy Martin

UMass Lowell Image

Chancellor Jacquie Moloney urged students to get involved and make a difference on campus during her first convocation address. Photo by Tory Germann.

By David Perry

The keynote speaker challenged the university’s newest students to be faithful to the best of themselves and to open their minds upon entering college. Then, he quoted 2020’s freshly declared presidential candidate, Kanye West. 

The River Hawk marching band blared brassy Led Zeppelin covers and a spirited rendition of the UMass Lowell fight song and students text-voted to award $3,000 among a trio of DifferenceMaker teams.
The student body president told them to embrace diversity, and the associate vice chancellor touted the secrets of “great” over good. Rowdy the River Hawk lobbed T-shirts into the crowd, which filled nearly half the bowl of the Tsongas Center.
This year’s convocation for 2,800 freshmen and transfer students (a record number) was UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney’s first chance to formally address students since her election Aug. 3.
It isn’t often a chancellor can speak to new students with such personal experience.

“Let me assure you of this,” Moloney said. “Your education here will change your life. It changed mine. You will challenge yourself and stretch yourself in ways you may not have imagined.

“I, too, am entering a new phase of my life’s journey as your new chancellor,” said Moloney, the first woman to lead the school in its 121-year history. “And I couldn’t be more delighted to share it with you. The class of 2019 will always hold a special place in my heart.”

In her 13-minute address, Moloney recalled to the incoming students standing in their shoes years earlier when she began her freshman year at the same school. A “double River Hawk,” she earned both her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at the university while logging a distinguished career here.

Moloney didn’t waste time challenging the incoming class. She noted that her predecessor, new UMass system President Marty Meehan, had a long list of accomplishments over his eight years at the helm. Enrollment, test scores and rankings all rose under his leadership and more buildings and new programs were created.

The freshman class, with the highest average SAT and high-school GPA in university history, was an example of the bar Meehan set.

“Marty is pretty competitive,” said Moloney with a smile. “I need your help. We want to surpass every metric that Marty ever established.”

Moloney urged the students to make every moment count and encouraged them to support the university’s 18 Division I athletic teams. She introduced more than 450 new honor students, and touted the faculty. She thanked Arnold and Maureen Lerner, who sponsored the keynote speaker, and described them as examples of of true difference-makers.

Follow Your Bliss

Keynote speaker Clancy Martin told students about his unconventional route to success as a professor, Guggenheim Fellow and best-selling author and urged them to figure out what they love to do.
Martin, a professor of philosophy in University of Kansas City’s College of Arts and Sciences and professor of business ethics at its Bloch School of Management, nearly flamed out of college his first semester. He embraced his newfound freedom as a college freshman by sleeping through classes and hiding from his professors.
“I was a college vampire,” he said. He teetered on flunking out but applied himself when he realized the opportunity he was blowing.

Martin offered a “Big 10” list of advice for new students. He also told them to chase bliss over commerce, a lesson he learned from his own experience.  A career in business was unsatisfying, despite a Mercedes, Armani suits and oodles of money.

“I was so stressed out, I would drive to college campuses.” He would walk around, seeing people embracing learning, and remembered what freedom felt like.

He quoted Kanye West, saying, “I refuse to accept other peoples’ idea of happiness for me.”

Martin urged students to support one another.  “Everybody else around you is trying to find out what they love, too. Be good to each other,” he said.

Moloney Impresses 

Students liked Moloney’s message about getting involved on campus and making a difference.
“She was really good, and I liked her challenge,” said Pimpesan Supple, a 22-year-old freshman who served four years in the Marine Corps before enrolling. “It was a good start.”

“She’s the one everybody is sure is the best person for the job,” said freshman electrical engineering major David Donohue of Tyngsboro. “She sounds great.”