Celebrated author Jonathan Franzen to deliver Cowell College commencement speech

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Acclaimed author Jonathan Franzen, whose books "The Corrections" and "Freedom" have been labeled "novels of the century," is scheduled to deliver the 2012 commencement address for Cowell College at UC Santa Cruz.

Franzen's appearance will be one of the highlights as UCSC's 10 colleges, Baskin School of Engineering, and graduate division hold commencement ceremonies June 15-17. Cowell's commencement is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday June 16 on the East Field.  

“I'm a great fan and friend of Cowell College,” Franzen said. “I'm honored to have a chance to speak at its commencement.”

The author of four novels, a collection of essays, "How to Be Alone," and a personal history, "The Discomfort Zone," Franzen has lived part-time in Santa Cruz for 14 years. He chose a local venue, the Capitola Book Café, as the first stop on his national tour for "Freedom." He also has a longstanding affection for UCSC.

Franzen craves quiet while at work and found it at Cowell when he was working on parts of "Freedom."

"UCSC is a great place to write fiction, especially in the summer months, when the campus is very quiet and the days often start out very foggy," Franzen told the UCSC Review Magazine last year.  "I can go from the fog of sleep and up the foggy drives to a dark office, put in a good morning in the dream state of fiction-writing, and then emerge to a beautiful blue sky in the early afternoon."

An array of other speakers will deliver keynote addresses at commencement ceremonies across campus. Several other less formal celebrations are scheduled beginning June 15 to honor graduates.

Judit Camacho, who has been engaged with SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science) for the last 17 years and has served two terms as executive director, is the keynote speaker for the UCSC Division of Graduate Studies commencement , scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, at the UCSC East Field.

Kawami Evans, known as a dynamic speaker, educator, and leader, will deliver the keynote address at Kresge College’s commencement, 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the East Field.

Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, will deliver the keynote address at the Baskin School of Engineering graduation celebration, set for June 17 at 4 p.m. at the Baskin Engineering Courtyard.