UMass Lowell Convocation Features ‘Genius Grant’ Speaker

From the UMass Lowell Office of Public Affairs:

“First-year students are officially welcomed to the university community at Convocation on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. The keynote speaker is Bill Strickland, winner of a MacArthur Foundation ‘genius grant’ and more than 10 honorary degrees for his work to combine the arts, job training and culture to fuel positive social change.

Bill Strickland (web photo courtesy of

“Strickland began his own personal transformation as an inner-city high school student more than 40 years ago when he saw a talented art teacher spin a mound of clay into a work of art on a potter’s wheel. Strickland, his creativity ignited, used art to inspire other youths from his Pittsburgh neighborhood through the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, an after-school program he founded while still a college student. Today, he leads the Manchester Bidwell Corp., a national model for education, culture and hope that works with both adults and youths to provide market-driven career education and training.

“Convocation also introduces the Class of 2014 to two of the 24 new student organizations founded since the same time last year, the UMass Lowell Gospel Choir and the new a cappella singing group, ‘Hawkappellas.’ A special presentation will be offered by ‘In Your Company,’ in which students will perform spoken word pieces about their life experiences as they navigate young adulthood and life at UMass Lowell. Their stories are used to make connections to the audience by providing avenues to appreciate difference while highlighting commonalities.

“Following Convocation, students are invited to a barbecue outside the Tsongas Center that features a club fair where they can find out about UMass Lowell’s 130 student-run organizations and how to participate.”