Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Maine resident Richard Ford will deliver the commencement speech at the University of Maine at Farmington’s 2014 graduation.

Richard Ford, a novelist and short story writer, will receive an honorary degree as well as speak at the UMF ceremony at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 17.

“We are excited and honored that such a distinguished author as Richard Ford will be joining us as we commemorate this historic year’s graduation,” said UMF president Kathryn Foster in a press release. “This year’s commencement marks not only a milestone in UMF’s 150-year history, but also in each and every graduate’s educational success. We couldn’t be more proud.”

The 70-year-old author’s “Independence Day” was the first novel to win both the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, in 1996, and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

His novels have been translated into 25 languages, he is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, his short fiction has often appeared in The New Yorker, and he contributes to newspapers around the world, according to the release.

Most recently, Ford’s New York Times best-selling novel “Canada” won the top French literary award, the French Prix Femina Etrangere. It was also awarded the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was part of several best-books-of-the-year lists.


Born in Jackson, Miss., Ford works as Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. He lives with his wife, Kristina, in East Boothbay.

The student commencement address will be given by Sean Skillern, from Naples, Maine. An elementary education major, Skillern is vice president of the senior class and recently received the Michael Winston Award for significant contributions to the college and the community, according to the press release. He is the president of the local Rotaract organization, a community service club for young adults and part of the Rotary organization. Skillern traveled to Guatemala last fall with other students and Rotary members to volunteer at Safe Passage, which aids at-risk children in that country.

The outdoor ceremony will be held behind the UMF Olsen Student Center, or inside the UMF Fitness and Recreation Center if it rains. Admission to the indoor ceremony will be limited to those who have already received tickets.

The university will stream the ceremony live online at UMF.Maine.edu.

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