Opening Week

About Convocation

This event is the formal welcome for all students entering into the UMass Lowell academic community. It serves as the ceremonial start for our new students, just as Commencement serves as the ceremonial finish for our seniors. This required freshmen event is the highlight of Opening Week and the official launch of the academic year. 

Convocation is an opportunity to meet fellow students and faculty as well as hear from Chancellor Marty Meehan, the College Deans and a special guest speaker.

Past Keynote Speakers

2014 - Deanne Bell

Deanne BellPower-tool-wielding, globe-trotting adventurer Deanne Bell defies all stereotypes of your typical engineer. And she’s had quite a journey since graduating in 2002 from Washington State, St. Louis with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Her first television appearance in 2006 as co-host for the Peabody Award winning children’s series, Design Squad, lit a spark of determination: to inspire a new generation of innovators and engineers.

She swapped her cubicle, where she’d formerly designed opto-mechanics for military aircraft sensors in Los Angeles and worked as a senior application engineer for a software startup in Boston, for the TV screen, bringing her passion for science to primetime.

Her television hosting credits include ESPN’s “Rise Up,” National Geographic’s “The Egyptian Job,” DIY Network’s “Money Hunters,” and perhaps the most adrenaline-packed of them all, Discovery Channel’s “Smash Lab” – a program that put everyday technology to the test in “extraordinary ways.”

When she’s not on the screen discussing history, home improvement, sports, or conducting experiments that bring science to everyday life, Bell can be found exploring the globe. She has hiked to the base of Mt. Everest, cycled from Seattle to Los Angeles and backpacked solo throughout Asia.

2013 - Waneek Horn-Miller

Waneek Horn-MillerYoung, frank  and hopeful, Waneek Horn-Miller has overcome discrimination, self-doubt, and an infamous incident of violence to emerge alone as one of North America's most inspiring Native speakers. With purpose and poise, she traverses the intersection of two generations of Native people, working to mend - finally - the dysfunctional relationship between Native and non-Native communities through social and political change. 

Waneek Horn-Miller, a Mohawk from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal, was behind the lines during the Oka crisis, in 1990, when she was stabbed by a Canadian soldier's bayonet. This near-death experience marked a turning point in her life. Instead of recoiling, she came back stronger than ever. In 2000, she appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, for her role as co-captain of Canada's Olympic women's water polo team. More recently, Horn-Miller has worked to attract Aboriginal youth to higher education by building self-esteem and emphasizing a balance between education and sports. 

Horn-Miller teamed up with the Aboriginal Peoples' Television Network and health experts to launch a fitness and healthy-eating initiative called Working It Out Together, which follows six Mohawks on their pursuit to better health. She is the coordinator of the First People's House at McGill University. 

Horn-Miller inspires audiences to follow their own dreams, fight for and develop their own legacy and achieve their full potential in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

2012 - Robert Egger

Robert-EggerRobert Egger is the Founder and President of the DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen,” where food donated by hospitality businesses and farms is used to fuel nationally-recognized culinary arts job training program. Since opening in 1989, the Kitchen has produced over 23 million meals and helped 800 men and women gain full time employment. The Kitchen operates its own revenue generating business, Fresh Start Catering, as well as the Campus Kitchens Project, which coordinates similar recycling/meal programs in 30 colleges or high school based kitchens.

In addition, Robert is the Founder and President of CForward, an advocacy organization that rallies employees of nonprofits to educate candidates about the economic role that nonprofits play in every community, and to support candidates who have detailed plans to strengthen the economy that includes nonprofits.

In Washington, Robert was the founding Chair of both the Mayor’s Commission on Nutrition and Street Sense, Washington’s “homeless” newspaper. He was also the Co-Convener of the first Nonprofit Congress, held in Washington DC in 2006. Currently, Robert serves on the Board of the national addiction recovery program, Back On My Feet, the Philanthropic Collaborative and Chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen.
Robert’s book on the non-profit sector, Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient and Rewarding For All, was released in 2004 by HarperCollins. It received the 2005 McAdam Book Award for “Best Nonprofit Management Book” by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management.

Robert was included in the Non Profit Times list of the “50 Most Powerful and Influential” nonprofit leaders from 2006-2009. He was the recipient of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement” award and the 2004 James Beard Foundation “Humanitarian of the Year” award. He has been named an Oprah Angel, a Washingtonian of the Year, a Point of Light and one of the Ten Most Caring People in America, by the Caring Institute. He is also a 15-gallon blood donor to the American Red Cross.

Robert speaks throughout the country and internationally on the subjects of hunger, sustainability, nonprofit political engagement and social enterprise. He writes blogs and editorials to share his ideas about the nonprofit sector and the future of America.

To check out Robert’s recent speaking schedule, blogs and editorials, please visit