‘This is an Absolute Dream Come True for UMass Lowell’
LOWELL -- First it was author Stephen King, and then actress Meryl Streep. But this year, the bar has been set even higher for UMass Lowell’s annual Chancellor’s Speaker Series with Oprah Winfrey set to take center stage.
The talk show host, philanthropist, author and actress will appear at the university’s Tsongas Center on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney credits the tremendous dedication of English Professor Andre Dubus III with enticing Winfrey to come to Lowell.
Moloney told The Sun Tuesday afternoon she was “walking on air.”
“This is an absolute dream come true for UMass Lowell,” she said. “We’re just so honored that she is coming to our university. She does not do public speaking very much at all, so we were so delighted and humbled and honored, honestly, that she would agree to come to UMass Lowell.”
Dubus appeared on Winfrey’s talk show after his New York Times best selling novel, “House of Sand and Fog,” became an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 2000. He said it has been a three-year effort to bring Winfrey to the university.
“The Oprah that we see on camera, the engaging compassionate, generous person, is the one I saw backstage, off camera the whole time,” Dubus said.
Moloney said she told the news to a number of student leaders before it was released to the public. The event will also raise money for student scholarships.
“Seeing the look on their faces was incredible,” Moloney said. “They’re just so excited and they’re all great admirers, as they should be, of Oprah Winfrey and what she’s done with her life.
“You look at her history and what she’s done with herself, and it’s so symbolic of our students who, too, come from humble beginnings,” she continued. “She’s such an iconic figure to many of them.”
Winfrey will be interviewed by Moloney, who plans to ask her to share her life lessons with the audience. She said Winfrey’s commitment to promoting education and literacy is an important message for the audience. Dubus said many UMass Lowell students are the first in their families to receive a higher education and work all kinds of jobs to pay for it.
“My hope is that young people in the audience that night will be inspired to think they, too, can bloom in this life,” Dubus said. “If Oprah can do it, they can do it.”
Dubus interviewed both King and Streep at the previous Chancellor’s Speaker Series events.
Moloney said she is committed to trying to raise $1 million in scholarship money in Winfrey’s name. Streep’s appearance as part of the speaker series raised more than $230,000, and King’s event raised more than $100,000.
“My greatest hope is that people will learn lessons from Oprah Winfrey and know what her message is, and it’s about unity,” Moloney said. “I feel she brings great healing power to the audience, and hope for the future.”
With Winfrey’s clout, Moloney encourages those who want to attend to act fast before the event is sold out. Ticket sales will open to UMass Lowell students, employees and alumni on Friday, Sept. 28. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday, Oct. 1. Ticket prices range from $125 to $250, but student tickets will be $50.
Tickets are available for purchase at www.tsongascenter.com or by calling 866-722-8780.
Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.