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How to Talk Like a River Hawk

From “The Acre” to “WUML,” here’s a glossary of terms and acronyms you should know

Two students pose with Rowdy the River Hawk at Mill No. 5

By Ed Brennen

If you’re a new student at the university, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. New classes. New friends. New routines. New city. Was that class in Dugan Hall or Durgin Hall? What’s an “ICC”? Does the LRTA go to Mill No. 5? 

If you’re a returning student, you know there’s always some new building or program popping up that you need to learn about. What’s the “River Hawk Village”? Where are these new Aiken Fields that keep showing up in Snap stories? 

To help you get acclimated (or reacquainted) with the university, we’ve put together a glossary of terms and acronyms common on the UML campus. So if your roommate ever talks about the work she’s doing for PERC at ETIC, you’ll know what she’s saying.

The Acre: The oldest neighborhood in Lowell, the Acre is actually several hundred acres – and home to much of our East and South campuses.  
Aiken Fields: Want to play intramural soccer or club rugby under the lights? Or maybe some tennis? Then these new recreation fields on East Campus are the place for you.
Allen House on UMass Lowell South Campus
Allen House:
With sweeping views of the Merrimack River and South Campus, this is the university’s most picturesque place. The historic house was the former residence of Charles Herbert Allen, a former businessman and governor. It now features an art gallery, an event space and an exhibit of the desk, typewriter and personal items of famed Beat writer (and son of Lowell) Jack Kerouac.
Ally Space: Have a question about LGBTQ resources and support services? Want to find out how you can help make the campus more inclusive? The Ally Space promotes a safe and healthy campus environment through trainings, programs and education.
CLASS: Yes, you’re here to go to class. And surely you act with class. But CLASS also stands for the Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services, and they’re here to help. Have a question about your course selection? Need tutoring or another set of eyes on that paper? You can access them online or in person in four locations: North Campus (Southwick Hall, third floor); South Campus (Learning Commons, first floor); East Campus (Fox Hall, first floor); and Downtown (ICC, Room 821).
 The Connector: “Serving the Student Body Since 1976,” this is the student newspaper distributed free across campus every Tuesday during the academic year. You can also check it out online at
Inside view of Campus Rec Center
The Campus Recreation Center on East Campus is where you can go to work out, join a club or intramural team and even get your bicycle tuned up. The 65,000-square-foot facility features three multi-use courts for basketball, volleyball and badminton, two aerobic studios, squash and racquetball courts, an indoor track, a turf field, a bike shop and locker rooms. You can even play pool or ping-pong in the lobby.
DifferenceMakers: If Steve Jobs had gone to UMass Lowell, he would have loved DifferenceMakers. It’s where students who enjoy creativity and innovation learn how to turn their ideas into products and businesses that, you guessed it, make a difference in people’s lives.   
Durgin vs. Dugan: Don’t worry, everyone has a hard time keeping these South Campus buildings straight. Durgin Hall is our 1,000-seat performance center, where you can catch a student concert. Dugan Hall is an academic building that features a new Media Fabrication Laboratory, complete with a 3-D printer and scanner for design and fine arts students.
ETIC: Also known as the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, this high-tech building is impossible to miss on North Campus. Even if you’re not involved with the cutting-edge research in nanotechnology, molecular biology, plastics engineering and optics going on inside, you can still relax on its gorgeous front lawn or catch up with friends over a Frappuccino from Starbucks.
Bicycles in bike rack
Free Wheelers:
 You’re at Fox Hall and need to get to South Campus pronto. But the weather’s so nice and you don’t feel like catching a shuttle bus. Just check out a Free Wheelers bicycle (it’s free, of course) and you’re on your way.
HEROES: Did you know that our faculty and students work with the U.S. Army to develop state-of-the-art gear for soldiers on the battlefield? HEROES, or Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers, is a collaborative research and development center with the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. 
Howe Bridge: This is the mighty span over the Merrimack River that connects North Campus to the rest of the university. It’s also a great spot to get a gorgeous sunset photo for your Instagram.
ICC:  This is what we call the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center, a university-owned residence hall, hotel and meeting space in the heart of downtown Lowell. More than 400 students live at the ICC, where they enjoy their own dining hall, a Learning Commons and shuttle service to the rest of campus.
 iHUB: Short for the Innovation Hub, this is a space for tech startups working to bring their ideas to life and products to market. Located in downtown Lowell, it includes the Medical Device Development Center (M2D2), a business incubator on the fourth floor. Thanks to $11.3 million in recent state funding, the first and second floors are being converted into a cutting-edge research lab for creating next-generation smart fabrics.
LoCSST:  Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with a plague of locusts. The Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology is where researchers, students and industry partners come together to explore space, the final frontier. You may have heard about their work during the recent solar eclipse.
LRTA:  Need a free and easy way to get to the Burlington Mall, the movie theater or Lowell’s commuter rail station for a train to Boston? Use your UCard to ride any of the city buses for free. You can also get to Dracut, Lawrence, Methuen and Haverhill with the Merrimack Valley Regional Transportation Authority (MVRTA) Route 01/41 bus.
MakerSpace: This is like a playground for engineering students: a big, open workshop with 3-D printers and workstations for electronics and machining. 
Hallway shot in Mill No. 5
Mill No. 5:
 Live music, yoga, movies, coffee, vinyl records, an apothecary, a cheesemonger and even an occasional farmer’s market. Mill No. 5, located in a renovated factory downtown, is a haven of hip. 
M2D2:  No, it’s not R2-D2’s little sister. It’s the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center, and it’s where medical device companies team up with researchers from both UMass Lowell and the UMass Medical School. 
NERVE: The New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation Center, which is moving downtown to 110 Canal Street this fall, is an indoor obstacle course for robots of all kinds – including Valkyrie, a $2 million humanoid robot that NASA hopes to one day send to Mars.  
Olsen vs. Olney:  This is another frequent source of confusion, compounded by the fact that these science buildings are located across the street from each other on North Campus. Olsen houses the Computer Science and Biology departments and various labs and classrooms. Olney is where you will find the Kennedy College of Sciences Dean’s office, classrooms, the meteorology lab and more.
PERC: Good name for a coffee shop, right? It’s actually something far cooler: the Printed Electronics Research Collaborative. It’s where industry, academia and the government come together to develop the future of printed and flexible electronics.
Students exiting bus
River Hawk Roadster:
 It’s a big campus, but the River Hawk Roadster shuttles make it much more manageable. Be sure to get the Roadster Routes app to know when the next bus is coming.
River Hawk Village: A new residence hall opening this fall on East Campus, River Hawk Village offers loft and townhouse housing options for 780 students. Did we mention that every unit has a washer, dryer and kitchen?
Rowdy: The university’s mascot has gone through a few transformations over the years, but Rowdy the River Hawk is now the big bird on campus. Be sure to give him a high-five at the next hockey or basketball game.
The Solution Center:  Adulting has never been so easy. You can register for a class, pay your bill or apply for financial aid – all in one convenient location in the lobby of University Crossing.
SPACE HAUC: Pronounced “Space Hawk,” this wins the award for most creative acronym: the Science Program Around Communications Engineering with High-Achieving Undergraduate Cadres. Backed by $200,000 from NASA, students are building a satellite that will launch in 2018 on a yearlong mission to collect and transmit research data. 
Front of University Crossing
 Considered the “living room” of campus life, University Crossing also goes by “UCrossing” and “UX.” It’s home to the River Hawk Shop, the Solution Center, Crossroads Café, student clubs, the Study Abroad office, Career Services and more.
UCAPS: If you live, learn or work at the university, then you’ll know the UCard, Access and Parking Services office. They provide your UCard and manage parking on campus.
Western Avenue Studios:  Another funky find in the city, Western Avenue Studios is the largest artist community on the Eastern Seaboard, home to more than 300 working painters, photographers, sculptors, weavers, woodworkers and more. 
Wicked Blue: Home to our powerhouse field hockey team, Wicked Blue is the nickname of the blue Cushing Field on North Campus. 
WUML: OK, it’s not really an acronym, but rather the call letters for the student-run radio station,91.5 WUML. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall (the station first aired on Nov. 26, 1967), WUML broadcasts from the basement of Lydon Library.