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National COVID Response Leader, First Black Woman Commercial Astronaut To Address Class of 2022

UMass Lowell to Confer an Estimated 4.600 degrees at Three Ceremonies

Doctorate recipients jump for joy at Commencement 2021 Photo by Tory Wesnofske
UMass Lowell Commencement events will be held Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14.


Contacts for media: Emily Gowdey-Backus, 978-934-3369, and Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944,

National COVID Response Leader, First Black Woman Commercial Astronaut To Address UMass Lowell Class of 2022 Graduates

COVID-19, space exploration and the fight for equality – all subjects which have gripped the UMass Lowell community, and the nation as a whole – will be at the center of the 2022 UMass Lowell Commencement ceremonies. 

Dr. Ashish Jha, a public health expert currently coordinating COVID-19 response nationally, will speak during the Saturday, May 14, morning ceremony as graduates from the Francis College of Engineering, Kennedy College of Sciences and Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences receive their diplomas. 

During the afternoon – Sian Proctor, the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft and noted geoscientist and artist – will address graduates of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences as well as the Manning School of Business. 

Christopher Niezrecki, UMass Lowell professor of mechanical engineering and an expert on renewable energy, will deliver the Commencement speech to master’s and doctoral candidates Friday, May 13. 

UMass Lowell is excited to once again welcome students, their friends and family, members of the university community, and the media to the campus in celebration of the estimated 4,600 members of the Class of 2022 for the three Commencement ceremonies. 

“We’re excited to have our Class of 2022 graduates hear from these esteemed international leaders in health care, space exploration and sustainable energy and we are honored they will be with us as we celebrate student success, family and community,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, a two-time graduate of the university who will step down as chancellor at the end of June and will preside over her final Commencement ceremonies. 

Jha and Proctor, as well as alumni and longtime UMass Lowell philanthropists Brian Rist ’77, his wife, Kim, and Lawrence Chian-Hsiang Lin ’90 will receive honorary degrees during the two-day celebration. Together, the Rists established UMass Lowell’s first endowed deanship benefiting students in the Manning School of Business. Also with the partnership of his wife, Jang-Lin Chin ’80, Lin established the UMass Lowell Lin Makerspace, an open concept engineering work area. 

Additional awards will also be granted throughout the ceremonies. They, and their recipients, are as follows:

  • Award-winning and best-selling author Andre Dubus III will be recognized with the Chancellor’s Medal for the Arts. A UMass Lowell professor of English, Dubus’ works are published in more than 25 languages. 
  • Distinguished alumni awards will be presented to Stephen Driscoll ’66, ’72, a 50-plus-year faculty member of the UMass Lowell plastics engineering department, and William O’Shea ’69, ’03 (H), a former executive of Lucent Technologies and president of Bell Laboratories. O’Shea is the 2022 recipient of the university’s James B. Francis Distinguished Engineer award. 
  • Chancellor’s Medals for Public Service and Civic Engagement will be presented to local philanthropists John and Linda Chemlay, Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue, her husband, John O’Connor, and Lowell General Hospital, the region’s largest employer.
  • Former UMass Lowell senior vice chancellor for finance, operations and strategic planning, Joanne Yestramski ’76, as well as the Independent University Alumni Association of Lowell, will be honored with the Chancellor Medal for Outstanding University Support. 

For further information about the 2022 Commencement ceremonies, please visit the event’s website.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.