Skip to Main Content

‘125 and Rising’ Reaches Even Higher

‘An Evening With Oprah Winfrey’ pushes total campaign giving to more than $136 million

Oprah Winfrey and her scholarship winners
Oprah Winfrey with scholarship winners Coral Gonzalez Diana, Daphne Shakira Naut, Flore Stécie Norcéide, Ashlie Grasa, Jaime Waldron and Nicholas Abourizk.

By Beth Brosnan

“The only way you change a life is by changing the way someone thinks about their life, and you do that with education.”

So said Oprah Winfrey, to thunderous applause, at her Nov. 15 appearance at UMass Lowell. In all, more than 6,000 people filled the Tsongas Center to hear Chancellor Jacquie Moloney interview the woman she called “one of the most powerful and most positive people on Earth.” The evening raised more than $3 million for student scholarships — including a $1.5 million matching gift from Winfrey herself.

That same spirit has fueled record support for Our Legacy, Our Place: 125 and Rising. To date, more than 32,000 donors have contributed more than $136 million to support scholarships, faculty recruitment and research, campus improvements and UML’s Division I athletics program.

“Every day at UMass Lowell, we witness how education changes lives,” says John Feudo, UML’s vice chancellor for university advancement. “More than one-third of our undergraduates are first-generation college students, and many of them are overcoming real obstacles to earn their degrees.”

Winfrey’s gift will endow a new scholarship that will benefit students with financial need who have demonstrated a commitment to academic achievement. In the past six months, 15 new endowed funds have been created, including scholarships supporting student veterans and undergraduates majoring in accounting, music education, plastics and civil engineering. Another endowment will fund a new humanities ethics fellowship.

On April 25, the university will gather to celebrate the re-opening of Perry Hall, one of UML’s key engineering facilities, which has just undergone a $50 million, top-to-bottom renovation, with support from campaign donors.

And work continues on historic Coburn Hall — UML’s oldest academic building and the future home of the College of Education and the Psychology Department — which is undergoing a $45 million renovation and expansion.