Dr. Richard Lyons, who helped to establish UMass Lowell, honored by MTA retirees

Each year at the Retired Members Gathering, an educator is recognized with the “Honor Our Own” award for outstanding service. Dr. Richard Lyons received the award in 2013. Here are the remarks made by former MTA President Mary Gilmore in presenting Lyons with the award on Sept. 24, 2013.

I am honored today to be able to present the Honor Our Own award for 2013. Nominees are judged on the following criteria: professional responsibilities and personal achievements in his or her field; leadership, creativity or innovation;  impact of the nominee’s professionalism on the school community, the students, the association and the community; advocacy for association members, the profession and public education; and how his or her work improved the image of public education.

We received numerous nominations, all describing wonderful individuals. This year, we are proud and happy to present the award to Dr. Richard Lyons. Richard joins a long list of stellar educators who have previously received this award, and he is the second awardee from higher education. In a 36-year career, he taught hundreds upon hundreds of aspiring teachers from his perch at the Graduate School of Education at UMass Lowell.

For his entire career, Richard was integrally involved in faculty unions. He founded and was president of the first faculty organization on campus, and he negotiated the first contract.

He led the movement to merge the Lowell State College with Lowell Technological Institute and supported the Massachusetts Society of Professors as the bargaining agent. I was a K-12 teacher my entire career, and I can only imagine the intricacy and myriad issues related to the joining of two separate institutions. Richard was there for it all.

Richard was on numerous bargaining committees for the faculty and was the chair of the grievance committee for 20 years. His tenacity and dedication to members was well known as he fought to protect their rights, specifically with respect to ensuring that promotions were within the confines of the contract and fighting for salary issues for women faculty. He served two terms on the MTA Board of Directors, and for over 30 years he has been the treasurer of the Massachusetts Higher Education Caucus.

All of that in and of itself is extremely impressive. Yet along the way, he found time to teach his classes, participate in his department, and author three books and 25 articles. Richard has also been the President of the New England Philosophy of Education Society and its treasurer for over three decades. It is no wonder that he was made a visiting scholar at the University of London and more recently appointed to be a visiting scholar the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has inspired teachers and colleagues alike and has always been a proponent of reasoned critical thinking.

Please join me in a round of applause for our 2013 Honor Our Own awardee, Dr. Richard Lyons.