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The new McGauvran Student Center

George DeLuca
Connector Staff
Mary Elizabeth McGauvran

Mary Elizabeth McGauvran

A ribbon-cutting event heralded the opening of the $34 million McGauvran Student Center. A throng of attendees perused the premises prior to a touching kickoff ceremony led by UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney on Dec. 8, 2015.

Chancellor Moloney noted that a dramatic rise in student residents on the South Campus was a key factor in making the decision to repurpose the existing building into a 54,000-square-foot facility housing a new dining hall, retail food outlets, learning commons, and smart classrooms.

“Welcoming and warm spaces are essential to the college experience because they give our students, faculty and staff places where they can meet new people and engage in University life.” Moloney said.

A joyous mood permeated the audience as UMass Lowell officials, some of whom are alumni and/or long time administrators, reflected and reminisced about how the building’s namesake influenced many lives throughout her career at the University.

“That is why it’s fitting that this building is named for Mary McGauvran, the University’s first Vice President of Student Affairs, because there is no one who appreciated the need for this kind of space more than Dr. McGauvran did,” Moloney said.

Mary McGauvran had a dream that continues to manifest on campus. Chancellor Moloney said, “I personally had the privilege of knowing Dr. McGauvran and benefited greatly from her wisdom and guidance through the years. From the time she joined the faculty in 1952 until her retirement in 1987, she led the way in establishing a student centered University. Mary, who passed away last year, was a friend and mentor to many here on campus.”

UMass System President Marty Meehan offered his own tribute to Dr. McGauvran, noting that they bonded over the fact they were both student government presidents in high school.

Meehan joked that he barely qualified to attend Lowell State, but Dr. McGauvran mentored him and helped him succeed with his studies. He remembered attending her funeral and thinking about the lives she touched. “This woman positively impacted thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people. What a life and what an impact!”

Meehan said that as he walked through the entrance to the new center, he was thrilled to see the plaque with Dr. McGauvran’s photograph and a composite of her achievements while at the University. Meehan said, “She would be so proud of this university and that we recognize our history and where we come from. I was so pleased to see it. And new students who come here will get a sense of who Mary McGauvran was and what she was about when they walk in this building.”

Dr. McGauvran’s successor and current Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Larry Siegel offered his perspective. “Dr. McGauvran hired me in 1986. I’ll never forget the gleam in her eyes when she spoke about our students like they were her own children. That just captured me. Thirty years later, that characteristic and passion still lives here every day with our faculty and staff. The students really matter. You hear that in every conversation. You hear it in planning meetings. This building in many ways symbolizes that.”

Mary’s goddaughter, Michelle Gugliuzza, explained how the building was named after Dr. McGauvran. She said, “It was no surprise that it was the students themselves that made the recommendation to the Board of Trustees in 1987 to name this building the Mary E. McGauvran Student Union Center. Their petition praised her for her dedication to students for more than 30 years.

“They lauded her for her personal interest, enthusiasm, and humanity in working with students. The students voted to present the proposal to (then) President William Hogan for action and the Board of Trustees approved. It was probably the greatest honor that Mary ever received. It was one of many, but it was so meaningful because her students made the recommendation. It was proof that she fulfilled her dream to make a difference in the lives of students. I know she would be so proud and so humbled by this gathering,” said Gugliuzza.

Chancellor Moloney summed up the spirit of the proceedings. “I know that Mary McGauvran would be proud of the legacy that she left us, putting students first, creating the kind of culture that we know is so prevalent on our campus today where faculty and staff are committed to the success of every single student who attends here.”


The new McGauvran Student Center opened in January, 2016. (photo/George DeLuca)

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