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Spirits High at Homecoming Parties, Reunions and Games

Alumni, Students and Families Brave Rainy Weather for Annual Event

The UML Marching Band at Homecoming Photo by Tory Germann
The UMass Lowell Marching Band plays at the Hawkey Way festival outside the Tsongas Center on Saturday.

By Katharine Webster

From selfies with Rowdy the River Hawk to reunions, musical performances and a pair of Division I men’s ice hockey games, Homecoming offered plenty of fun for alumni, students and their families, faculty and staff.

Students became human bowling balls and slid, dunked and jumped in bouncy castles and inflatables at “Rally Alley,” a party on East Campus before Friday’s hockey game against St. Lawrence (a 5-2 win).

“You can’t not bounce!” said first-year economics major Ben Linatser as he left the Campus Recreation Center with fried dough and a free, long-sleeved Homecoming T-shirt. “College students are just toddlers, but taller.”

Alumni crowded into a reunion reception at Hawkey Way outside the Tsongas Center before Saturday night’s hockey game against Clarkson (a 4-3 loss) to reminisce with friends.

“I’m reveling in my own memories,” said Dan Conley ’86, as he paged through the 1986 yearbook and looked at photos of the Undergraduate Society of Entrepreneurs, the Student Government Association and The Connector, all of which he’d joined.

“My first year, I aced everything. My senior year, I realized there were a lot better things to do on campus than study hard,” he said. That included founding the State Student Association of Massachusetts and its newspaper to give students from all 27 state campuses a voice at the State House.
People creating giant bubbles at the Inventor Mentor booth at UML Homecoming Photo by Tory Germann
Kids of all ages make giant bubbles with the Inventor Mentor on Hawkey Way.

Heather Makrez, director of Alumni Relations, said that even in the cold and sometimes rainy weather, hundreds of people attended the free festival on Hawkey Way and the rally on East Campus, while a record 1,000-plus people registered for Homecoming events over the weekend, including: a luncheon to honor retiring faculty and staff; Jennifer’s 5K Fun Run and Walk; alumni reunions and games, including special events for Greek and athletic alumni; a reception for students’ parents and families; the Celebration of Scholarship luncheon; and a 30th anniversary celebration for the Model United Nations program.

“It was great to see alumni come out in this monumental show of support, despite the weather,” Makrez said. “They came back to see old friends, faculty and staff who mentored them in college and beyond.”

David Lewis ’80 and Johanna (Peterson) Lewis ’81 came to tour the campus and hear their daughter, music education major Emily Lewis ’17, play baritone horn in the marching band on Hawkey Way. 
Three Homecoming queens at UML Homecoming Photo by Tory Germann
Three Homecoming queens show off their crowns.

“We were both music education majors,” said Johanna Lewis. “We met here and got married right after graduation.”

For Cathy Stangroom ’76, an education major, Homecoming was also a family affair. All three of her children and her son-in-law graduated from the university.

“I wanted to see the changes from 40 years ago until now,” Stangroom said. 

“It’s so different even since I graduated in 2008,” added her oldest daughter, Mandy McLaughlin, who was with her own baby daughter (Class of 2038).
A family gets their picture taken in a giant lawn chair at UML Homecoming Photo by Tory Germann
A family has its photo taken in a giant lawn chair.

Hundreds of alumni and other supporters attended the annual Celebration of Philanthropy reception, where Chancellor Jacquie Moloney announced that Our Legacy, Our Place: The Campaign for UMass Lowell has already attracted nearly $90 million in gifts and pledges toward the $125 million goal. 

And at the Celebration of Scholarship luncheon on Saturday, honors chemistry major Abby Giarrosso ’18 told the audience of scholarship donors and student recipients that “so many of my opportunities for success have stemmed from scholarships.”

“Not only do they ease the financial burdens that so many students face, they validate the effort we put into our studies. It’s like someone saying, ‘You’re doing great — keep it up!’”
Students eat donuts hanging from strings at UML Homecoming Photo by Tory Germann
Students eat doughnuts from strings.