Inside Stories

White House Officials Visit UMass Lowell

White House and other federal officials advancing efforts to provide educational equity and opportunities for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, visited UMass Lowell last week to learn from students, faculty and staff about their experiences as part of a tour of universities and colleges committed to these goals.

Since 2020, UMass Lowell has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI), one of nearly 200 in the United States.

An estimated 15% of UMass Lowell students identify as Asian Americans; of whom the university has welcomed a growing number over the past decade, in part, because Lowell boasts the second-largest population of Cambodian Americans in the country.

“UMass Lowell is proud of its AANAPISI status and its commitment to supporting these students in their academic journeys,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Julie Chen. “We’ve made great strides over the past decade in improving outcomes for students from historically marginalized and excluded groups, but we know there is more work to be done. With the help of this White House initiative, our legislative delegation and our partners, I know our success will continue.”

Event participants included students, faculty and administrators from UMass Lowell, UMass Boston, University of Connecticut and Hunter College, along with Bunker Hill and Middlesex community colleges. Attendees at the session, held Friday, Dec. 15, at UMass Lowell’s University Crossing student center, discussed their experiences and priorities, identified ways to improve access to college and mental health initiatives, and explored how to overcome barriers to learning. All of this insight will be shared with federal policymakers for consideration and future action.

Event speakers included U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Massachusetts; Lowell Mayor Sokhary Chau; and representatives of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the White House Office of Public Engagement; and the Department of Education. State Rep. Tackey Chan also attended.

The event was coordinated by UMass Lowell’s Asian American Center for Excellence & Engagement (AACEE), in conjunction with the university’s AANAPISI partners. Funded through a nearly $1.5 million grant from the Department of Education, the center offers the university’s Asian American students personalized services to help them flourish, celebrates their heritage and deepens UMass Lowell’s commitment to fostering diversity, both on campus and throughout the greater Lowell community. The center is a project of UMass Lowell’s Center for Asian American Studies.

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