Downtown Lowell First Thursdays Returns for 2016

Lowell, Massachusetts .  Downtown Lowell First Thursdays (DLFT) returns on Thursday, April 7, from 5-8:30 pm for 2016.  A consortium of galleries, businesses and restaurants will throw open their doors again this year on the first Thursday of the month from April through September.

Lowell First Thursdays provide great opportunities to get out and explore lively downtown Lowell, taking in the music, art, history, food, and culture that make our city such a unique destination. Visitors, locals and college students can check out the galleries, learn something new at an artist demonstration, try a new restaurant (or an old favorite), do some shopping, ride the trolley, take a summer stroll along the canals, and listen to some jazz- it’s all here at Downtown Lowell First Thursdays.

This year, the emphasis is on the public art of Lowell, starting with the April 7 First Thursday, with other events planned for June 2 and Sept. 1.

 At the Lower Locks there will be a bunch of activity, including:
-Music by UML Student Band
-On-site sculptures by Steve Syverson and James Coates.
-Banners designed by the students of MCC.
-Special color lighting of the Lower Locks
-Earth Day/sustainability information.

-A special tour of the history of Lower  Locks history and art by Richard Howe leaving from the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center at 246 Market Street at 6:00 PM.

Additional tours of the art venues in town led by COOL volunteers throughout the evening.

Ayer Lofts,  172 Middle Street.
Look into my Lens, photography by Mike dela Vega

Whistler House Museum of Art, 243 Worthen Street
Artist-in-residence Dave Drinon will be giving a painting demonstration starting at6PM. Light refreshments will be served.

Luna Sessions, The Luna Theater at Mill No. 5, 250 Jackson Street.
Join us at 8:05 for live jazz on the theater stage. Have a seat in one of our plush armchairs, sip a craft brew, and enjoy the musical stylings of some of the most talented players in the area.Drop by early to visit our independent shops and grab a treat at Coffee and Cotton.
Time: 8:05-11:00

Arts League of Lowell,  307 Market Street.
Come and create your own work of art in air dry clay between 6pm and 8pm as the Arts
League of Lowell celebrates its’ current 3D show entitled, ELEMENTS IV. Also, Norm Caron, Photography of Lowell at ALL Greenwald Gallery.
Any questions, contact Eva Glazebrook.

Mandarin Bistro,  24 Market Street.
The large-scale paintings of WAS artist Peggie Bouvier will be on display and the artist will be there from 7:30 to 8:30.

UnchARTed Gallery,  103 Market Street.
Plus ONE: A new exhibit featuring the work of two Lowell artists: Anne Cook and Mary Hart. Anne will be in the gallery from 5 to 6 PM leading an art activity for all ages.

The Brush Art Gallery,  246 Market Street.
During First Thursdays on April 7 at 5:00 PM, Vassilios “Bill” Giavis, one of the Brush studio artists will be holding a painting demonstration. He is known for his paintings of downtown Lowell. Giavis was recently honored at Enterprise Bank for his large painting of an Acre neighborhood. Light refreshments will be served.

Whistler House Museum of Art, 243 Worthen Street.
Artist-in-residence Dave Drinon will be giving a painting demonstration starting at 6PM. Light refreshments will be served.

Lowell National Historical Park, 246 Market Street (parking at 304 Dutton Street.
The Visitor Center, with free parking at 304 Dutton St, is your hub for maps, information, and schedules for First Thursday activities and venues.  Check out the new park film, Lowell: The Continuing Revolution, shown every half hour.

Watch for the Lowell Humane Society “Adopt Me” dogs on the streets of downtown.
Wonderful adoptable dogs will roam the streets of downtown Lowell (with handler) and will be available for questions & “free snuggles.”

UMass Lowell Names New Provost

LOWELL, Mass. – UMass Lowell today announced the appointment of its new provost, the university’s chief academic officer, who will guide the institution’s future as a world-class leader in higher education.

Michael Vayda, dean of the University of Arkansas Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences, will join UMass Lowell in June as its provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. In this role, he will oversee the university’s undergraduate, graduate and online programs in the pursuit of academic excellence, lead student recruitment and admissions, and engage with alumni and the public to advance the university’s goals.

Vayda will serve as a member of UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney’s executive cabinet and play a role in fulfilling the university’s blueprint for its future, “UMass Lowell 2020: A Strategic Plan for the Next Decade.”

“It speaks to UMass Lowell’s national standing that we were able to attract someone with Michael’s talent and record of accomplishment as both an academic and an administrator. I am especially impressed by Michael’s commitment to build upon the strengths of all the colleges and his embracing of our diverse and inclusive culture. I know he will work tirelessly alongside all of us to elevate UMass Lowell to greater heights,” Moloney said.

Vayda, a Princeton-educated molecular biologist, has distinguished himself as a scholar and administrator throughout his career. He is no stranger to New England, having taught as a professor at the University of Maine and University of Vermont, where he was also an associate dean. His full curriculum vitae is available at the provost’s search webpage.

“I am truly honored to be joining Chancellor Moloney’s leadership team at UMass Lowell. The campus has made extraordinary advances in recent years and I am eager to work with the faculty to further advance UMass Lowell as an institution of opportunity for students entering a knowledge-based economy, a source of innovation with our private-sector partners and a catalyst for further economic and cultural enhancement in the Commonwealth,” Vayda said.

UMass Lowell’s growing national reputation as a top-tier public research university attracted a large field of candidates for the provost’s job. Vayda’s selection for the post was led by a search committee headed by Julie Chen, the university’s vice provost for research, and John Pulichino, ’67, ’14 (H), chairman and CEO of Group III International Ltd.

“Dr. Vayda’s record as a scholar, educator and administrator is perfectly in line with the qualifications the committee sought,” Chen said. “He rose to the top of a very strong pool of candidates with a clear vision for academic programming and faculty engagement. He not only impressed the campus community during his visit, but generated excitement about what we can collectively accomplish as a university.”

Pulichino also praised Vayda.

“Michael’s enthusiasm for UMass Lowell was definitely a strong point. The university’s success is closely linked to its ability to engage alumni and industry partners. He has the right skill set to be both a strong academic leader internally and a champion for the campus externally.”

In welcoming Vayda to UMass Lowell, Moloney as well thanked former Provost Ahmed Abdelal and current Provost Donald Pierson for their outstanding service to the university.

“We would not be in this position without Ahmed Abdelal, whose seven years of academic leadership were the most successful in the university’s history and whose legacy will never be forgotten. Don Pierson generously agreed to serve a one-year term as provost and his steady hand and deep institutional knowledge allowed us to move forward at full speed academically while conducting an exhaustive search,” Moloney said. “I also applaud the search committee and thank them for their significant contributions throughout this process.”

The national search firm Korn Ferry, which specializes in higher education leadership searches, assisted the search committee. Korn Ferry communicated with 300 prospective candidates, interviewed 73 candidates and presented the credentials of those candidates to the search committee. The search committee interviewed 13 candidates in January and four finalists visited the campus this month for open meetings with faculty and staff.

Middlesex Awarded Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant

Middlesex Community College has been awarded a $117,086 Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant to expand its training capacity for the rapidly growing IT Cybersecurity program.

The grant is part of $9.3 million in workforce skills equipment grants awarded as part of the Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant Program, a new initiative of Governor Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet, which seeks to align education, workforce, and economic development strategies across the state.

“Workforce skills education and training plays an enormous role in economic and personal development by helping residents acquire the skills they need to connect with promising careers,” said Governor Baker. “These vocational-technical education equipment grants will help build stronger communities and a more competitive business environment that ensures more residents have the skills they need to succeed in and support the Commonwealth’s economic future.”

“We are grateful for this funding that will allow us to establish a state-of-the-art lab environment for our IT Cybersecurity program in Lowell,” said Kathleen Sweeney, Dean of STEM. “As one of the first community colleges in the state to offer a comprehensive program in cybersecurity, having access to this type of dedicated lab space will ensure our graduates are prepared to better meet the needs of employers in this high-demand industry.”

MCC’s IT Cybersecurity Transfer Degree Program is designed to prepare students for transfer to a bachelor’s degree program or for employment in a variety of entry-level information-security analyst positions. Problem-solving and analytical thinking are emphasized throughout the program, with a hands-on approach to learning. The IT program conforms to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework for academic programs, developed jointly by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security.

For more information about MCC’s IT Cybersecurty Transfer program, contact Don Brady, Assistant Dean of Health & STEM, at

For more information about the Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant Program, visit:

Lowell General Auxiliary’s Daffodils and Desserts

Lowell, Mass. – Ring in spring with the purchase of daffodils and desserts to benefit local cancer patients and their families.

The Lowell General Hospital Auxiliary will hold its annual Daffodils and Desserts Day event on March 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at both of its hospital campuses. Through the sales of daffodils, baked goods and gift baskets, the event raises money to provide comfort and healing to cancer patients and their families.

Preorders for daffodils are being taken now through Friday, March 11. A bunch of daffodils costs $10, and a pot of daffodils costs $12. To preorder, call the Saints campus gift shop at 978-934-8499. Flowers will be available for pick up on the day of the event.

Proceeds raised from previous sales have helped purchase items like puzzles, DVD players, a laptop and holiday meal gift cards for patients undergoing treatment. Last year’s event raised $5,300 for the Cancer Center at Lowell General Hospital.

Shootout for Soldiers Returns to Boston Area

The 24-hour lacrosse event benefiting wounded American veterans will be held at the
Cushing Field Athletic Complex at the University of Massachusetts Lowell on June 3 and 4

BALTIMORE – Shootout for Soldiers, the 24-hour lacrosse event, will return to Boston after a successful inaugural event in 2015 which raised $26,170 through the support of 600 players and 3,200 attendees.

The event returns to Boston this summer to an enthusiastic and fully supportive community.

“Summer 2015 marked the first time Shootout for Soldiers occurred in New England and we were humbled and excited by the support we received from teams across the New England region. It was amazing to see young kids playing the game they loved throughout the night in support of our nation’s veterans,” said Lt. Col. Michael “Sully” Sullivan, Shootout for Soldiers Boston organizer.

The Shootout for Soldiers Boston team is looking forward to a second, even more successful event in 2016 and aims to surpass the amount last year’s event raised for our nation’s heroes.

“We are excited to build upon last year’s success and we are calling on teams all across New England to help make this year’s Shootout for Soldiers Boston event even better,” Sullivan said.

This year’s event will be held at the Cushing Field Athletic Complex at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

In addition to returning to Boston, the event will expand to three new cities, with a total of eight events in 2016, after raising more than $408,000 last year. Those interested in participating in the June 3 and 4 event in Lowell can begin to register March 1 at

The games are open to both male and female teams of all ages, with honorary veterans’ games opening each event. Summer 2016 events will be in Boston on June 3 and 4, Baltimore on June 22 and 23, Atlanta on July 2 and 3, Houston on July 8 and 9, Columbus, Ohio, on July 16 and 17, Long Island, N.Y., on July 21 and 22, Denver on July 28 and 29 and will conclude in Dana Point, Calif., on Aug. 6 and 7.

About Shootout for Soldiers:

Started by a group of high school students in Maryland, Shootout for Soldiers is a 24-hour lacrosse game benefiting our nation’s heroes. The mission of Shootout for Soldiers is to use the platform of lacrosse to engage communities with their local veterans and support their healthy and successful transition into civilian life. By raising more than $900,000 since its inception in 2012, Shootout for Soldiers has helped provide financial, physical, and emotional support and services to United States service men and women. To learn more, please visit or follow @SFSLacrosse on Twitter.

Lowell Kids Week 2016

Lowell, MA.— Be the curator for a day, try your hand at weaving, or lend your ideas as a city planner… Express yourself, make new friends, and try something new at Lowell Kids Week 2016! Lowell Kids Week is an annual festival of free family fun that takes place during February school vacation, February 14-20, 2016. Events are hosted by over twenty partner organizations and take place at locations throughout Lowell. The complete schedule of events will be available February 1 at All programs are free, but many require pre-registration – plan ahead and register early!

Lowell Kids Week offers of nearly fifty free programs, serves over 2,000 area children and their families, and builds connections among a diverse group of local organizations, agencies, and businesses. This year, families will enjoy an exciting variety of new programs, as well as many returning favorites. There’s something for everyone, from toddlers to tweens!

• Get active with free ice skating courtesy of the Lowell Recreation Department and a salsa dance workshop at Lowell National Historical Park;

• Meet a local native owl from Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Sanctuary and sharpen your scientific skills as you search for wildlife during a winter scavenger hunt at Hawk Valley Farm;

• Fire up your imagination at the Pollard Memorial Library’s Pirate Party, become a Groovy Scientist at Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell, or design, build, and operate a canal system in the Water Room at the Tsongas Industrial History Center;

• Join local artists and Build a Future City with Judy Bessette and paint a Story Scroll about your family’s unique history with Richard Marion at Lowell National Historical Park;

•Take in a show with a live performance by the Angkor Dance Troupe and enjoy a free movie with the Magical Mystery Movie Club at Luna Theater;

Find details for these and many other exciting programs at

Lowell Kids Week is just one part of the exciting National Park Service Centennial programming planned for the upcoming year at Lowell National Historical Park. Stop by the Visitor Center at 246 Market St. to learn more about park offerings, including April PLAYcation, Earth Day, Your City Saturdays, Boott Cotton Mills Museum, Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit, ranger led tours, and special events about Lowell’s many other cultural attractions.

For more information on Lowell Kids Week, visit or contact Lowell Kids Week Coordinator, Jennifer Zazo-Brown at (978) 970-5025 or via email at For more information about Lowell National Historical Park visit or call (978) 970-5000.

Go on a Culinary Adventure with Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College’s Corporate and Community Education & Training program is offering a number of noncredit courses for those interested in improving their culinary skills. Courses are open to adults and children, 12 years-of-age or older. Classes begin Wednesday, Jan. 27 and include:

“Intro to Cake Decorating for Teens” (PER 803 33) – From frosting a cake perfectly smooth, to piping intricate borders or making frosting roses, students will have fun learning the tricks of the cake-decorating business. Each student will take home a fully decorated cake.

“Love ’N Cake” (PER 678 33) – Give your valentine a sweet treat this year with this fun multi-dimensional fondant cake decorating class. No experience needed!

“Easter Fondant” (PER 677 33) – Celebrate spring in this hands-on fondant cake decorating class. Have fun learning the latest trends in fondant cake decorating.

“Frosting Fun for Easter” (PER 818 33) – Lean how to decorate an Easter-themed cake using frosting and piping bags. You’ll create a three-dimensional cake that tastes as good as it looks!

To learn more about these or other noncredit personal enrichment course offerings at Middlesex, visit or call 1-800-818-3434.

Steve Almond Selected as Kerouac Writer-in-Residence

LOWELL, Mass. – Author Steve Almond, whose insightful, often irreverent take on contemporary American life has earned him both literary praise and prizes, will teach English at UMass Lowell this semester as the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence for 2016.

The program invites a prominent author to visit the university to teach, write and present a program for the campus and public during the academic year. The residency is offered through the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for the Public Humanities at UMass Lowell, which was established with support from John Sampas – the executor of Jack Kerouac’s literary estate – to promote the study of American culture.

Skilled in both fiction and non-fiction genres, Almond writes short stories and essays and is the author of more than 10 books, three of them New York Times bestsellers. He will talk about his creative process, read from his work and answer questions from the audience at a free event on Tuesday, Feb. 9 that is open to the public and campus community.

The program will be held at 5 p.m. in the O’Leary Library Learning Commons, Room 222 on UMass Lowell’s South Campus at 61 Wilder St. in Lowell. Afterward, he will sign copies of his books, which will be available for purchase. Free parking is available across the street from the venue.

Almond’s most recent work, “Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto,” which tackles the thorny subject of America’s fascination with the sometimes brutal sport, has drawn acclaim from many corners, including author Andre Dubus III, an associate professor in UMass Lowell’s English Department. Dubus invited Almond to come to the university, where Almond is teaching writing for the semester.

“I’ve known Steve and his wonderful work for many years,” Dubus said. “He’s not only a prolific writer but he’s also an immensely brave and honest writer who is seemingly fearless about taking on controversial subjects. He’s an excellent teacher and public speaker with a wide following. I predict UMass Lowell students will love him.”

Along with “Against Football,” Almond’s bestsellers include “(Not That You Asked) Rants, Exploits and Obsessions” and “Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America,” which took the author on a pilgrimage across the country to explore candy factories and the industry that sugarcoated his childhood memories.

Almond’s short stories have been published in the Best American and Pushcart anthologies and his story collection, “God Bless America,” won the Paterson Prize for Fiction. Before writing his first book, “My Life in Heavy Metal,” he spent seven years as a newspaper reporter in Texas and Florida. Today, his work appears in publications including the New York Times Magazine and GQ and he can be heard on shows such as National Public Radio’s “Here and Now.” His literary heroes include author Kurt Vonnegut and Lowell native Jack Kerouac, for whom the UMass Lowell residency is named.

“It will come as no surprise, I hope, that Kerouac was an inspiration to me,” Almond said. “In fact, I received word of the UMass Lowell appointment on the same night I was teaching a workshop that included an excerpt from ‘On the Road,’ so the whole thing strikes me as splendid and fated. I’ve heard that the students at UMass Lowell are terrific and I can’t wait to meet them. I love more than anything the chance to spread the gospel of literature on a campus with such a rich tradition.”

Past honorees of the Kerouac Writer-in-Residence program include Dubus, along with fiction writer Jennifer Tseng, playwright Laura Harrington and poet Major Jackson.

M2D2 Kicks Off Fifth Annual $100K Challenge

LOWELL, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) announces its fifth annual M2D2 $100K Challenge 2016, a nationwide competition that showcases the innovative ideas of early-stage medical device, diagnostic and biotech companies.

“Our goal is to help entrepreneurs gain valuable services needed during the tenuous stages of early product development,” said Stephen McCarthy, UMass Lowell professor and co-director of M2D2. “Expert advice, mentoring and access to facilities can be the difference between failure and success. We hope startups across the U.S. will apply to receive these valuable services.”

M2D2 assists entrepreneurs in the medical device and biotech sector with all aspects of the process of moving new products from concept to the marketplace. It is a joint venture of UMass Worcester, which provides medical expertise and assistance with clinical trials, and UMass Lowell, which offers expertise in business and plastics engineering. UMass Lowell is also home to M2D2’s business incubator, which was expanded in 2015 to serve even more client companies. Since it was founded in 2007, M2D2 has worked with more than 100 client companies, which in turn have secured more than $40 million in external funding for their ventures.

Sponsors of this year’s M2D2 Challenge have donated a total of $100,000 in services for the winning companies. The sponsors are BD (Becton Dickinson and Company), Boston Scientific, MPR Product Development, Mintz Levin, Omni Components and R&Q (Regulatory & Quality Solutions). Companies selected will receive use of facility, lab and meeting space as well as engineering, legal, regulatory, clinical and business services.

“To develop new solutions to the challenges facing health-care delivery, it will take innovation and partnership; participating in the M2D2 $100K Challenge provides both for BD,” said Albert Lauritano, BD’s director of strategic technology partnerships. “We get to collaborate with startup entrepreneurs and their cutting-edge technologies by providing BD’s global market and product development expertise. It is a winning combination for the startup, BD and ultimately, the health-care system.”

“We were excited about the prize awarded to us through the M2D2 competition. The award has increased the profile of our project nationally and has allowed us to meet milestones more quickly. Also, it was a great personal achievement for our small team, which has worked on this project relentlessly,” said Renee Carder of PixelExx, a past participant in the M2D2 Challenge.

Finalists selected in the competition will present before a panel of expert judges at UMass Lowell on March 23.

Companies interested in competing in the M2D2 $100K Challenge 2016 should submit an application by Friday, Jan. 29. Finalists will be announced March 2 and winners on April 6. Full details on the competition are available at:

MCC Offers Noncredit Digital Photography Certificate Program

Take your photography hobby to the next level with Middlesex Community College’s noncredit Digital Photography Certificate. This program is designed to meet the needs of anyone interested in photography, portraiture, digital-image editing or selling photos or services on the web. Courses begin Tuesday Jan. 26, and include:

“Digital Photography I” (CAR 611 30) – Using a combination of classroom instruction, one-on-one consultation, shooting assignments and critique, an expert digital photographer will guide students through the technical and artistic aspects of digital photography. Students need an SLR digital camera.

“Digital Photography II” (CAR 612 30) – This class is a continuation of “Digital Photography I.” Through assignments, critique and guidance, students will work toward developing their own personal style of photography.

“Adobe Photoshop CS6” (CAR 610 30) – Photoshop has become an essential tool for professional and amateur photographers. This course will cover batch processing images, advanced masking techniques, special effects and filters, High Dynamic Range Photography (HDR), and the current creative trend in image manipulation.

“Business of Photography” (CAR 615 30) – Students will learn how to present, price and market their photography. Topics include: portfolio preparation, marketing, freelance photography, working for a photographer, and opening a photography studio.

“Studio Lighting” (CAR 613 30) – Through classroom instruction, in-studio photo assignments, and critique, you will learn how and when to use different types of lighting. Gain confidence in using strobe-lighting equipment. Three of the classes will take place off-campus at a studio in Littleton; all other classes will meet on the Bedford campus.


For more information or to register for these and other noncredit courses, call 1-800-818-3434 or visit

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