UMass Lowell’s story has always been one of opportunity. Dating back to our founding in 1894 as the Lowell Normal School and the Lowell Textile School, this has been a place where students could come to build a better future for themselves, their families, their communities and the commonwealth.
UMass Lowell’s role as a public university in a Gateway City remains central to our identity and mission. The diversity of our campus community is one of our key strengths; it enriches the education experience for all. The university remains laser-focused on the success of students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds and identities. It is essential that we strive to offer equitable access to an excellent learning environment and to programs that support success as we prepare the future leaders of our community, the commonwealth and the world.
A Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
Over the years, our student population has become increasingly diverse. In the fall of 2022, 41% of undergraduates identified as students of color, up from 26% in 2010. During the same time, the percentage of graduate students of color grew from 19% to 31%. In addition, in the fall of 2022, 39% of first-year students were first-generation, and 30% of full-time undergraduates were Pell Grant recipients.
With student achievement a priority, the university has redoubled efforts to close the achievement gap across all groups on campus, regardless of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic status, age, experience, residency and other self-identifying characteristics.
In the fall of 2021, the U.S. Department of Education awarded UMass Lowell nearly $1.5 million as part of its Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (ANNAPISI) grant program. The grant and the university’s designation as a minority-serving institution, help support new programs and initiatives for students and open up new possibilities for faculty who are interested in receiving federal and private grant funding for research and other opportunities.
The university continues to invest in programs and add resources to help all members of our community flourish on campus and beyond.
Some of these initiatives include the River Hawk Scholars Academy, which promotes academic success for full-time, first-generation students and has become a national model for closing the achievement gap; the Council on Social Justice & Inclusion, which coordinates campus diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts; and the Asian American Center for Excellence & Engagement, which is dedicated to serving the university’s growing Asian American population with academic support and career and wellness services. In addition, our summer bridge programs in engineering and computer science help prepare incoming first-year students, especially those from underrepresented communities, for success in their chosen disciplines.
The university has also established the LGBTQ+ Resource Center to advance its commitment to diversity and creating a safe and healthy campus environment through education, support, advocacy and the fostering of equity for all members of the community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
Our International Students & Scholars Office continues to provide services to students and scholars coming from other countries, from pre-arrival to the post-completion phases of their academic and research programs, to support their success.
To support our faculty, the university has created the ADVANCE Office For Faculty Equity, which promotes an equitable, inclusive and empowering environment for all.
Closing the Gap: The Road Ahead
While we are proud of the progress UMass Lowell has made toward our goals of a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus, we know that much remains to be done.
We must build on the work we have accomplished so far and push ourselves to do more to ensure that UMass Lowell fulfills its mission as a place where all members of our community thrive, and where equity gaps are eliminated.
We are working to increase our capacity and support for our Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ communities. Efforts underway through the Office of Multicultural Affairs include the addition of Black & Brown Student Support Services, piloting of identity-based STEM cohorts, the pursuit of additional funding and resources to expand outreach and programming, and more visible student touch-down space in the Social Justice Center.
The university’s 2028 Strategic Plan will guide our efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging with an emphasis on access, retention and success for students, faculty and staff from underrepresented communities. We will track and communicate our progress, which will be measured by comparative graduation rates of students and campus workforce participation.