Lowell is well-known for its second acts in retirement. After all, Mayor Samaras only began his political career after retiring from a 44 year career in the Lowell school department. So it is fitting that the mayor had a suggestion for Professor John Wooding‘s post-retirement job.
“When you leave this university, you truly could have a career as a stand-up comedian.”
John Wooding’s retirement party after 31 years at UMass Lowell was indeed full of many laughs but even more expressions of heartfelt admiration and appreciation for someone who has spent over three decades making both the university and the City of Lowell a better place.
Professor Wooding arrived at the campus of the University of Lowell in 1987, holding positions in the staff, faculty, and administration over his long career there. He co-founded and established the well-regarded Regional and Social Development of Regions (RESD) program and served as its first chair before ascending to the position of provost in 2003.
His impact in Lowell has reached far beyond just the university campus. John served as the longtime chair of the Cultural Organization of Lowell and has been a key contributor to the rise of Mill City Grows and the Lowell Earth Day Festival. Readers of this blog are no strangers to his latest effort, hosting the first ever festival of learning and re-framing Lowell as a true City of Learning.
After delivering a citation to the retiring professor, Mayor Samaras surprised his old friend with an additional coveted token of appreciation. “You are always welcome in the City of Lowell, but if you should find the doors closed, here is a key to the city.”
Professor Wooding was appreciative, noting, “I don’t like this guy just because he’s the mayor. I like him because he’s a really nice bloke who happens to be mayor.”
In tribute of John’s British roots, the mezzanine of O’Leary Library was transformed into a miniature Trafalgar Square, with union jacks emblazoning the windows, an hors d’oeuvres menu of fish and chips, cucumber and cheese tea sandwiches, and bite sized shepherd’s pies, and even a few Margaret Thatcher campaign posters hanging on the walls.
And yes, there were Beatles references.
Mayor Samaras was just one of many who shared their positive memories of John–including some rather funny ones. In what was equal parts a “roast” as well as a “toast”, speaker after speaker thanked the professor. Academic colleagues, former students, and friends all were represented. Speakers included Robert Forrant, Ardeth Thawnghmung, Paul Marion, Lydia Sission, Victoria Denoon, and many others, in a program that featured jokes, props, and even some music.
John’s ability to positively impact people was given a cinematic branding– “The Wooding Magic”
Although Professor Wooding may have taught his last class as an active member of the UML faculty, he will remain active in Lowell, continuing to sit on a number of nonprofit boards and serving as the driving force to lead Lowell to a UNESCO designation as the first City of Learning in North America. But for one afternoon at O’Leary Library, the good work paused as guests from a wide variety of backgrounds took some time to celebrate a person who truly made a positive difference in so many lives.
C I T A T I O N
Be it hereby known to all that
the City of Lowell in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
hereby offers its sincere appreciation and congratulations to
Professor John Wooding
Upon the occasion of his retirement from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. A graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science, Cornell University and Brandeis University, Dr. John Wooding joined the faculty of the University of Lowell in 1987 and has been a member of the Political Science Department for more than twenty years. He was one of the founders and the first chair of the Department of Regional Economic and Social Development (RESD), a well-regarded program that has had a profound, wide-ranging, and long lasting positive impact on the City of Lowell and the entire region. Dr. Wooding also served the campus as Provost from 2003 to 2007.
His service to the City of Lowell was in no way limited to a campus setting. John Wooding has been and remains active in numerous area nonprofit and community organizations; serving as the longtime chair of the Cultural Organization of Lowell, a board member with Mill City Grows, and on the steering committee of Lowell’s Earth Day Festival. Recently, Professor Wooding has led the Lowell: City of Learning effort in the hopes that the city will be become the first UNESCO-designated Learning City in North America.
John Wooding truly is the epitome of “a scholar and a gentleman.”
Now, therefore, I, Mayor William J. Samaras, hereby offer all the best to Professor John Wooding in his retirement. The entire City of Lowell is proud to honor this distinguished individual for all his tireless work towards making our city a better place.
Given this 5th day of June, 2018.
William J. Samaras, Mayor