By Beth Brosnan
At the May 13 Commencement Eve Celebration, Chancellor Jacquie Moloney ’75, ’92 announced that John F. Kennedy ’70 and L. Donald LaTorre ’59, ’07 (H), both longtime benefactors of UMass Lowell, and UMass President Emeritus Jack Wilson have all made major new gifts to benefit Our Legacy, Our Place: The Campaign for UMass Lowell.
Kennedy has created a $1 million endowment to provide operational support for the William J. and John F. Kennedy College of Sciences, which the university named for Kennedy and his late brother in 2015, in recognition of John Kennedy’s philanthropy. LaTorre and his wife, Gloria, have endowed the $350,000 LaTorre Family Scholarship Fund to expand scholarship support at the Kennedy College.
Wilson and his wife, Judi, have made a $275,000 gift to underwrite the President Jack M. Wilson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which will be a cornerstone of the Pulichino Tong Business Center, scheduled to open in 2017.
Chancellor Moloney also paid special tribute to the very first graduate of the Kennedy College of Sciences: Brianna Gainley ’16, a computer science major who passed away on April 23.
Gainley was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer during her freshman year, and ultimately lost a lung and her right leg to the disease. Yet she pursued her degree relentlessly, completing internships and taking part in a national NASA robotics competition, where her team, the Rover Hawks, took first place.
When Gainley learned in March that her cancer was terminal, her family and the university held a special commencement ceremony for her, which was attended by more than a hundred family members and friends.
“Brianna was a truly exceptional young woman,” Chancellor Moloney said. “Under extraordinary circumstances, she embodied the UMass Lowell spirit.”