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Woodruff, Lockhart to address UMass Lowell Commencement 2016

‘PBS NewsHour’ host, Boston Pops conductor to address Class of 2016

Oscar winner to receive honorary degree at UMass Lowell Commencement

LOWELL, Mass. – Journalist Judy Woodruff, co-anchor of the long-running “PBS NewsHour,” and Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart will address the largest graduating class in UMass Lowell’s history at Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 14.

Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper and his wife, author and actress Marianne Leone, are among those who will receive honorary degrees at UMass Lowell Commencement. The couple lives in Massachusetts.

For the ninth year in a row, a record number of graduates – approximately 3,900, double the total in 2007 and an increase of 200 from last year – are expected to receive degrees during UMass Lowell’s Commencement ceremonies. The growth in the number of graduates reflects UMass Lowell’s 50 percent gain in enrollment and increased student success.

To accommodate the record numbers, UMass Lowell will hold two Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 14, both at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, 300 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Lowell. The first ceremony, set for 9 a.m., will feature Woodruff as speaker and Lockhart will address the second ceremony at 2:30 p.m.

“Judy Woodruff and Keith Lockhart represent the best in their professions and are wonderful role models for our graduates. Both have a great passion for their work and commitment to excellence in what they bring to their audiences. We are so honored that they will be addressing our Class of 2016,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney.

Moloney, who was named chancellor in 2015, will preside over UMass Lowell Commencement for the first time. The first woman to lead the university in its 121-year history, Moloney is herself a graduate of UMass Lowell, where she earned both her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees.

Woodruff is the co-anchor and managing editor of the “PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff” and has covered politics and other news for more than three decades. Prior to her many years with PBS, Woodruff served as a senior correspondent and anchored the daily “Inside Politics” show at CNN, and in roles with NBC News including White House correspondent, which led her to write the book, “This is Judy Woodruff at the White House.” With PBS, she has been chief Washington correspondent for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” anchored the award-winning weekly documentary series “Frontline with Judy Woodruff,” and worked on PBS documentaries including 2011’s “Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime” and the extensive project on the views of young Americans, “Generation Next: Speak Up. Be Heard,” which also included installments on National Public Radio and in USA Today. Woodruff is a graduate of Duke University, where she is a trustee emerita and served as a visiting professor of public policy. She is a founding co-chairwoman of the International Women’s Media Foundation and serves on the boards of trustees of the Freedom Forum, the Newseum, the Duke Endowment and the Urban Institute. Her numerous honors include the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism/Television and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism.

“I’m so honored to be joining the graduates of this remarkable school, which has made it a priority to connect a first-rate education with the real world. I’m excited to be celebrating with them as they think about how to take their excellent classroom experiences and translate them into changing the world for the better,” said Woodruff.

Lockhart, who celebrated his 20th anniversary leading the Boston Pops in 2015, is second only to Arthur Fiedler in the length of his tenure as conductor. In that role, Lockhart has significantly expanded the orchestra’s programming, welcomed more than 250 guest artists to perform with the Pops and has conducted more than 1,700 Boston Pops concerts, including those at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood, as well as on 40 national tours and four international tours. He and the Pops have participated in high-profile sports events including Super Bowl XXXVI, the 2008 NBA finals and the 2013 Boston Red Sox World Series ring ceremony, as well as major community events such as the memorial service for the Boston Marathon bombing victims. The annual July 4 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, which drew a live audience of approximately 500,000 last year, has been broadcast to millions of fans around the world via TV and the Internet. Lockhart has conducted on several albums, including two that received Grammy nominations, and has worked closely with hundreds of talented young musicians, including Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center and area college and high-school students. He introduced new performance series including JazzFest and EdgeFest, and is dedicated to building and updating the Boston Pops’ library of music, which includes more than 5,000 exclusive arrangements. Lockhart also serves as the principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra in London, where he led the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II, and as artistic director of the Brevard Music Center summer institute and festival in North Carolina. He has appeared as a guest conductor with major symphonic ensembles across North America, Asia and Europe. He holds degrees from Furman University and Carnegie Mellon University.

“I am truly honored to be able to address UMass Lowell’s Class of 2016. These graduates will face unprecedented challenges, but also unimagined opportunities and I look forward to joining the UMass Lowell community in giving them a rousing send-off,” said Lockhart.

UMass Lowell will also recognize the following with honorary doctorates of humane letters:

  • Chris Cooper, Academy Award winner, who is regarded as one of the most respected character actors of our time and has appeared in roles in numerous films, including “Adaptation,” for which he received an Oscar and Golden Globe Award; “American Beauty,” which earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award; and “Seabiscuit,” for which he was nominated for a SAG Award. He has also appeared in the recent release “Joy,” as well as “August: Osage County,” “Capote,” “The Company You Keep,” “Breach,” “The Horse Whisperer,” “Great Expectations,” “The Bourne Identity,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and many other movies, as well as in TV productions like the miniseries “Lonesome Dove.” His newest projects include the Hulu original miniseries based on Stephen King’s novel “11/22/63”; “Demolition,” which is scheduled for release this month; and “Coming Through the Rye,” in which he portrays author J.D. Salinger.
  • Marianne Leone, actress, screenwriter and essayist, who appears in the 2016 Golden Globe-nominated movie “Joy,” and had a recurring role on HBOs “The Sopranos.” Leone has also appeared in films by John Sayles, Martin Scorsese, the Farrelly Brothers and Larry David, among others. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, Post Road, Solstice, Coastal Living, Bark Magazine and WBUR’s “Cognoscenti” blog. Her critically acclaimed 2010 book, “Jesse, A Mother’s Story,” is a chronicle of the remarkable life and untimely death of her son at age 17. The Jesse Cooper Foundation supports inclusion via the Federation for Children with Special Needs and AccesSportAmerica, which provides sports for disabled children and adults.
  • John Kennedy ’70, retired president and chief financial officer of Nova Ventures Corp., whose long record of philanthropy and commitment to UMass Lowell was recently recognized with the renaming of the university’s College of Sciences. The William J. and John F. Kennedy College of Sciences honors both John Kennedy, who earned a mathematics degree from UMass Lowell’s predecessor, Lowell Technological Institute, and his late brother. Kennedy, who founded and led several successful companies, including Nova Analytics and Nova Technologies, has endowed several scholarships and provided support for research and athletics facilities at UMass Lowell, as well as serving on a variety of committees and as a member of the River Hawk Venture Fund Advisory Board. He has received numerous honors, including UMass Lowell’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He lives in Naples, Fla., and Johns Island, S.C.

The Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to L. Donald LaTorre ’59,’07 (H), president of L&G Management Consultants, which helps companies improve leadership and performance. LaTorre formed the firm after retiring as president and chief operating officer of Engelhard Corp. in 1997, which he led through a period of unprecedented earnings growth. In addition to Engelhard, his career includes a long history with companies including Velcro USA, BASF Corp. and Diamond Shamrock Corp. A dedicated and involved alumnus, LaTorre serves on the Chancellor’s External Advisory Board, the Nanotechnology Advisory Board, the Kennedy College of Sciences Advisory Board, the River Hawk Ventures Fund Board and the Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property Advisory Board. He has also served as a judge in the annual DifferenceMakers Idea Challenge. LaTorre and his wife, Gloria, have supported the university through the LaTorre Family Scholarship Endowment, the Alumni Events Scholarship Fund, the UMass Lowell Fund, the Dean Robert H. Tamarin Endowed Scholarship Fund and other initiatives. LaTorre – who serves on the boards of directors of Knoll Heights, Access Management and Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman Business School – earned a textile chemistry degree from Lowell Technological Institute, one of UMass Lowell’s predecessor institutions, in 1959. He was presented with an honorary degree by the university in 2007 and was recognized in 2004 for outstanding achievement in business. LaTorre lives in Holmes Beach, Fla., and Sparta, N.J.

UMass Lowell will recognize the honorees and top student award winners at the annual Commencement Eve Celebration on Friday, May 13 at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. The benefit has raised millions of dollars for student scholarships since it was first held in 2008.

For more information on Commencement, visit

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