Bill Nye the Science Guy at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center last night (Image courtesy of Facebook page of Chancellor Marty Meehan).
This is Commencement Day at UMass Lowell, and it’s wet out there. The grizzled and frizzed-hair ink-stained scribes of the media world will use all their will power to avoid beginning their reports with these words: “Rain failed to dampen the spirits of the graduates . . . .” I remember a stretch of years in the late 1970s and into the ’80s when it rained on Commencement exercises almost every year. But that’s for today.
Last night, hundreds of people gathered at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center for the Commencement Eve Celebration, annual event that has raised more than $3 million, three million dollars, for student scholarships. Chancellor Marty Meehan captained the gala ship with ease and verve. UMass President Robert Caret, who grew up in a mill town in Maine, praised the recent progress at UMass Lowell. We heard a preview of the remarks to be delivered by Dr. Howard K. Koh at this afternoon’s exercises (School of Health Sciences and all the master’s and doctoral programs). He is assistant secretary for health in President Obama’s cabinet, a former commissioner of public health in Massachusetts. He said good health “is a gift” that we must cherish and protect.
Toward the end of the program people near the center rear doors began stirring. Something was up. At my table we turned around and saw that the Commencement Speaker for this morning’s undergraduate exercises had entered the room. Bill Nye the Science Guy was in the house, having just arrived by car in transit from some plane or train. Chancellor Meehan introduced our guest, wearing his trademark skinny suit and bow tie, who gave two thumbs up to the crowd and then slipped back out the doors, saving whatever comments he is going to share with us for the platform in the Tsongas Center this morning.