Julie Chen is a scientist and leader in economic development who became the fourth chancellor of UMass Lowell in July 2022.
Chancellor Chen previously worked as the university’s chief research officer. Her record of innovation included building new partnerships with government and industry — from the collaborations woven into the Fabric Discovery Center to relationships such as the Raytheon-UMass Lowell Research Institute and the HEROES partnership with the U.S. Army.
Under the chancellor’s leadership, the university grew the use of its core research facilities, by expanding access to its laboratories and training to more than 200 industry users.
Chen is an accomplished mechanical engineer and professor. She is an expert in materials processing and nano-manufacturing. She has led programs in those areas at the National Science Foundation; represented the United States in international workshops; and testified before Congress.
At UMass Lowell, her many areas of influence include leadership of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives. She co-led the university’s Council on Social Justice and Inclusion, as well as a $3.5 million project supported by the National Science Foundation to remove obstacles for female faculty in STEM fields.
Chen earned a bachelor of science degree, master of science degree and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey
Maura Healey took office as the 73rd governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in January 2023, following her election the previous November. Healey is the first woman and openly LGBTQ+ person elected to the office.
Healey previously served as Massachusetts attorney general, from 2015 to this year. During her tenure she focused especially on social and environmental ills such as the opioid epidemic, health care costs, student loan debt and the climate crisis.
In January 2018, she was the first attorney general in the U.S. to sue executives and directors of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, including members of the Sackler family, for their role in creating the country’s opioid crisis.
Prior to her election, Healey oversaw two divisions of the Attorney General’s office — the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau and the Business and Labor Bureau. She also served as chief of the Civil Rights Division.
Healey grew up the oldest of five siblings in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, and attended Harvard College, where she was captain the basketball team. She later played point guard for a professional team in Austria.
Healey is also an alumna of the Northeastern University School of Law.
U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan
Congresswoman Lori Trahan is in her third term as representative of the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Lowell. She is a Senior Democratic Whip and a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Before she was elected to Congress, Trahan was a tech company executive and a consultant advising on business strategy and creating favorable conditions for employees, especially women.
In office, her priorities have included health care access, the addiction crisis, rebuilding infrastructure, addressing climate change, and protecting kids online. She secured passage of the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act in the aftermath of the Merrimack Valley gas disaster in 2018 and introduced legislation to increase funding to address pollution in water resources such as the Merrimack River.
The granddaughter of immigrants, Trahan is a Lowell native and Lowell High School graduate. She attended Georgetown University on a volleyball scholarship and was the first person in her family to graduate from college.
UMass President Martin T. Meehan
Martin T. Meehan Meehan is the 27th president of the University of Massachusetts, having previously served as chancellor of UMass Lowell and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the first undergraduate alumnus to lead the five-campus UMass System.
Since Meehan assumed office in July 2015, system-wide enrollment has risen to nearly 75,000 students; annual research expenditures have grown to $752 million; and the university’s economic impact has reached $7.5 billion annually.
Previously, during his eight-year tenure as chancellor of UMass Lowell, Meehan emphasized quality, diversity, access and affordability, as enrollment grew by nearly 50 percent and the university climbed into the top tier of U.S. News & World Report's best national universities rankings.
Born in Lowell, Meehan graduated from UMass Lowell in 1978 and earned a master's degree in public administration from Suffolk University in 1981. He earned a juris doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1986, before serving as deputy secretary of state for securities and corporations from 1986 to 1990, and later as first assistant district attorney for Middlesex County.
During his 14-year tenure as a member of Congress representing the 5th Congressional District, Meehan served on the Armed Services and Judiciary committees, and was a central figure in campaign finance reform efforts.
President and CEO at Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Kenneth Turner
Kenneth Turner is president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which leads public-private initiatives encouraging the growth of industries such as biopharma, medical devices, diagnostics and digital health. The quasi-public agency also leads programs encouraging economic and STEM workforce development.
Turner previously was director of diversity and inclusion/compliance for Massport. He also served as deputy secretary for administration and finance for the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services.
An alumnus of Southern University and A&M College, Turner served 26 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a captain and submarine nuclear weapons system officer.
He has more than two decades of executive and management experience with media and package goods companies such as AOL Time Warner, Hallmark Cards and Hasbro Toys.
Lowell Mayor Sokhary Chau
Lowell Mayor Sokhary Chau is the first Cambodian American to serve as a mayor in the United States. He was elected by his City Council colleagues on Jan. 3, 2022.
As mayor, Chau has articulated a vision for a safe, sustainable and equitable future for every resident of the city. He and the council have prioritized economic empowerment, affordable housing, addressing homelessness, environmental stewardship, equitable healthcare, racial justice and inclusive education.
In 1979, Chau and his family fled the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. His mother kept her seven children alive through four years of genocide, escaping "landmines, jungles, hunger, sickness and great uncertainty,” before arriving safely in the United States.
During his inaugural speech, Chau recalled his family's journey and memories of his father, a Cambodian army captain who was among the first executed by the communists during the civil war.
State Sen. Edward J. Kennedy
Sen. Edward J. Kennedy Jr. represents the First Middlesex District, including the communities of Lowell, Dracut, Dunstable, Pepperell and Tyngsboro. The lifelong Lowell resident was elected to the state Senate in November 2018.
Kennedy previously served on the Lowell City Council, from 1978 until 1985, and again starting in 2012. He was elected from the council to serve as mayor during the 2016-17 term. From 1992 to 1996, he was a member of the Middlesex County Commission.
Kennedy has emphasized economic development and environmental policy. As mayor, he was an outspoken leader in the effort to keep Lowell High School downtown. On the City Council, he served as chair of the Economic Development and Education Partnerships subcommittees.
Kennedy has worked as a commercial real estate appraiser. He is a graduate of Boston University and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Framingham State University.
UMass Trustees Chair Stephen Karam
Stephen Karam joined the UMass System Board of Trustees in 2017 and was appointed its chair by Gov. Charlie Baker in September 2022.
A Fall River native, Karam attended public schools in the city and earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Babson College. He is now principal at Karam Financial Group, a firm started by his father, Robert.
Karam’s service on the UMass board extends a family legacy: His father and uncle, James Karam, were both board members, and both served as chair. Karam previously led the trustees’ Administration and Finance Committee.
Karam has also served as a member and chair of the Bristol Community College Board of Trustees, and as a board member of economic development organizations in Fall River.
UMass Trustees Vice Chair Mary Burns
Mary Burns is vice chair of the UMass System Board of Trustees and chair of the UMass Building Authority. Burns is principal of Splash Media Group LLC and Capital Advertising LLC, both in Boston.
Burns is a fourth generation Lowell native, graduating from Lowell High School in 1979. She is one of six siblings to have graduated from UMass Lowell, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1984.
In her career, Burns has worked as a paralegal and consultant, including as overseer of road and bridge projects throughout the commonwealth.
In October 2022, she was elected chair of the Building Authority, which oversees construction and renovation of dormitories, academic buildings, dining areas, athletic facilities, laboratories and other facilities for the five-campus system. She is the first woman to lead the authority.
Free Soil Arts Collective Executive Director Christa Brown
Christa Brown is executive director of the Free Soil Arts Collective, which she founded in 2019 to amplify the voices of artists of color in the Merrimack Valley. Brown is a storyteller, actor and speaker who also consults with nonprofit organizations and companies seeking to tell their stories.
Brown’s storytelling projects have included “Hidden in Plain Sight: Stories of Black Lowell,” a book and exhibit in which she and collaborator Masada Jones explore the experiences of 27 Black residents of the city.
Brown earned a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from Longwood University. In 2022, she was one of four recipients of the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Newell Flather Award for Leadership in Public Art, recognizing her creative leadership and “vision for inclusive community building.”
In September 2022, Brown was selected by WBUR as one of 15 artists of color recognized for the imprint they leave on the commonwealth.
- Stephen R. Karam, Chairman
- Mary L. Burns, Vice Chair
- Bethany C. Berry, Voting Student
- David M. Brunelle
- Gerald G. Colella
- Jose M. Delgado
- Michael E. Dooley, Sport Leadership and Administration
- Robert Epstein, Vice Chair, Compensation Committee
- Richard M. Kelleher, Chair, Athletics Committee
- Mina T. Lam
- Adam M. Lechowicz, Voting Student
- Robert Lewis, Jr., Vice Chair, Athletics Committee
- Ann M. Maguire Keches
- Michael V. O'Brien, Chair, Committee on Administration and Finance
- Noreen C. Okwara, M.D.
- Imari K. Paris Jeffries, BA, MEd, MA, Chair, Committee on Academic Affairs and Economic Development
- Julie M. Ramos Gagliardi, MBA, Vice Chair, Committee on Academic Affairs and Economic Development
- Elizabeth D. Scheibel, JD, Chair, Audit and Risk Committee, Vice Chair, Committee on Administration and Finance
- Steven A. Tolman
- Patrick Tutwiler, Ph.D.
- Maxwell D. White
- Charles F. Wu, MBA
- Zunilka Barrett, Secretary, Board of Trustees
Thank You to Our Inauguration Sponsors
Champion Sponsor ($500,000 )
- Anonymous Donor
Title Sponsors ($100,000)
- Julie Chen and Susu Wong
- Marty Meehan Educational Foundation
- The Saab Family Foundation
- Nancy L. Donahue ’13 (H)
- MKS Instruments Inc.
- Ramaswamy Nagarajan ’98, ’00 and Sandhya Balasubramanian ’05, ’20
- Brian D. ’77, '22, ’22 (H) and Kim Rist ’22 (H)
- Ben Silver ’92
- Chien-Hsien Wu ’92 of JJW Family Foundation
- Lorna A. Boucher ’86
- Gerald ’78, ’19 (H) and Joyce Colella ’77, ’19 (H)
- Cummings Properties
- Demoulas Super Markets
- Eastern Bank Foundation
- John F. Kennedy ’70, ’16 (H)
- Amy K. ’89, ’90 and James F. Regan ’88
- Elisia ’13 (H) and Mark A. Saab ’81, ’13 (H)
- Bhupen ’92 and Ramika Shah
- Soho Development LLC
- Analog Devices Inc.
- BAE Systems
- Brooks Automation
- Fadwah ’91 and Gregory Chiklis ’92
- Christine M. Cournoyer ’73 and James Bryant
- Foster Corporation
- Edward (Chi Leung) ’75 and Pauline Ip
- Kimberly B. Kinsley ’91, ’93
- Richard Miner ’86, ’89, ’97, Corinne Nagy and Family
- Jacqueline F. Moloney ’75, ’92 and Edward J. Moloney, Jr.
- John Pulichino ’67, ’14 (H) and Joy Tong ’14 (H)
- Triton Systems
- Tufts Medicine - Lowell General Hospital
- UMass Foundation
- Joseph L. Vaillancourt ’90, ’01
- Peter ’64 and Helene Woog
- All Sports Heroes
- Carol F. Barry ’96
- The Behrakis Foundation
- Joseph J. Blonski ’78 and Debbie I. Hauser ’79, ’80
- Lisa A. ’84 and Tom Brothers
- Casella Waste Systems Inc.
- Commodore Builders
- Enterprise Bank
- Edward S. ’84 and Kelly A. Gallagher
- Jonathan G. ’84 and Patricia A. Geanakos
- John D. ’97 and Wendy M. Geraci ’97
- Greater Lowell Community Foundation
- Horizon Air Services
- Ehud Laska ’75
- Anne Maglia and Becky Shearman
- Makrod Investment Associates
- Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2)
- Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
- Oak View Group
- Red Hat
- Mark E. ’83 and Angela Russell
- Darlene Kolodziej Steffen ’76 and Kenneth M. Steffen
- UMass Lowell Division of Graduate, Online & Professional Studies
- U.S. Ambassador (Ret.) Robert Sherman
- Fumin Zhou ’98, ’99
- Elizabeth Altman and Jeff Hanam
- Lawrence J. Ardito ’69 and Linda Carpenter Ardito ’89
- Steve ’04,’17 and Danielle Athanas ’05
- Adam Baacke
- Lauren and Derek Berger
- Emily Byrne ’02, ’04
- Thomas Chmura
- Patty Coffey ’97, ’09
- Cindy ’87, ’91 and Russ Conde
- Chris Dick and Elizabeth Burba-Dick
- Doherty Properties LLC
- Joseph ’77 and Ann Donahue
- Kerry Donohoe ’95, ’07 and Mignon Duffy
- Dracut Jewelry Repair and Design
- Jill L. Drury ’96, ’02
- Ruth E. Dubey
- The Durkin Company
- Brenda Evans ’94, ’95 and Joss Stubblefield
- Luis Falcón and Katy Tucker
- John and Jennifer Feudo
- Deb Finch ’03, ’06, ’12
- Fred C. Church Insurance
- Gomez and Palumbo LLC
- John Grayson ’87
- Joseph and Karen Hartman
- Independent University Alumni Association at Lowell
- David A. Janeczek ’82, ’85 and Ann Schnorbus
- Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union
- Richard A. ’98 and Susan Juknavorian
- Belinda Juran and Evan Schapiro
- Cynthia (Gross) Kase ’73 / Kase and Company Inc.
- James and Sarah Kohl
- Chad D. LaFrance ’88
- Bob and Didi LaRochelle
- Marsh McLennan Agency
- Massachusetts Higher Education Consortium (MHEC)
- MBT Worldwide
- Matt ’79, ’85 and Patti McCafferty
- Melisenda McDonald and Adrianna Morris
- Carol McDonough
- Joey L. Mead
- Eric and Carrie Meikle
- Noureddine Melikechi and Anne Emlen Rhoads
- Chris Mullin and Kara Keefe Mullin ’03
- NRT Bus Inc.
- Therese and Jack O’Connor
- Jim and Trish O’Donnell / James F. O’Donnell & Sons
- Steven and Janet O'Riordan
- Premiere Inc.
- Pridestar Trinity EMS
- Red Mill Graphics Inc.
- Margaret Shanahan ’78 and Radey Shouman
- Susan Shay ’92
- Larry and Debbie Siegel
- Specialty Materials
- Darci Z. Sunnerberg ’87
- Chris Tagoe ’81
- TMI Properties
- UMass Boston
- Carolyn Walsh ’76 and Jack Moynihan
- Carleton Woodring and Jenifer Whitten-Woodring
- Joanne L. ’76 and Charles B. Yestramski ’76
- Michael A. Zuccaro ’83
Who's the Four-Legged Friend Escorting the Chancellor Today?
Spot is a dog-like robot designed by Boston Dynamics. The robot is being evaluated for its durability and agility at the NERVE Center.
- What are Chancellor Chen's top four priorities?
Chancellor Chen has identified four priorities that will inform the 2028 Strategic Plan:
- Enrollment and student success
- Support a diverse, welcoming and inclusive culture
- Research excellence
- Partnering with our community for mutual benefit
- Curious what all the regalia symbolizes?
According to the American Council on Education (ACE), academic dress dates back to the 12th and 13th century. Gowns are traditionally long and black, with different sleeve shapes depending on the degree earned. Doctoral gowns usually have velvet down the front with three bars on the sleeves, which can be customized for the degree or institution. The hood length is also determined by degree with the longest hood being reserved for doctors. Many colleges and universities have custom trims for doctoral degree regalia, including UMass Lowell. Our hood linings have a field of royal blue, which is divided by a red chevron. The hood color is determined by degree discipline. The poofy hat is called a tam, which is often reserved for the highest degree, and is an alternative to the more familiar mortar board.
- What's Julie Chen's surprising hobby?
Fixing and building things around the house and snowboarding.