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Author Louise Erdrich '76 to Speak at Commencement

Louise Erdrich '76
Commencement speaker Louise Erdrich '76, novelist, poet,
and author of children's books. (Credit: Paul Emmel Photography)

Author Louise Erdrich '76 will deliver the main address at the College's 2009 Commencement exercises on Sunday morning, June 14, on the Green. She is also one of seven individuals who will receive honorary degrees at the event. Erdrich has won acclaim as a writer in multiple genres-most recently as a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel Plague of Doves.

Also speaking will be Dartmouth President James Wright and the valedictorian of the undergraduate senior class, who is announced the week of Commencement after final grades are calculated.

The daughter of a Native American (Ojibwe and French) mother and a German American father, Erdrich is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She grew up in Wahpeton, N.D., and came to Dartmouth as a member of the College's first coeducational class. One of her four daughters, Aza, is a member of the Class of 2011.

As a novelist, poet, and author, she has written 14 books that have become best sellers or won awards-including the O. Henry Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Heartland Prize for Fiction. She was twice nominated for a National Book Award.

"Louise Erdrich is one of the outstanding American writers today and one who creatively shares the complexity and richness of the Native American experience, and indeed the history of all in the eastern Great Plains," says President Wright, himself a historian in American political history, particularly that of the western United States.

"I am delighted that Louise has accepted my invitation to be our Commencement speaker this final time I have the privilege of extending such an invitation," Wright adds. "She represents and symbolizes well the best of our heritage and the contributions of our graduates."

Click here for Reflections from Louise Erdrich '76.

This will be President Wright's 11th and final Commencement as president. A member of the Dartmouth faculty since 1969 and president since 1998, he will step down at the end of the current academic year, June 30. The College announced in March that Dr. Jim Yong Kim, chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will become the 17th president of Dartmouth on July 1.

Also at Commencement 2009, Dartmouth will present the third annual "Dartmouth Prizes for Exceptional Teaching: A Celebration of Outstanding Elementary and Secondary Education." The awards recognize the skill and impact of four K-12 teachers nominated by Dartmouth seniors. Learn more about the awards and honorees.

The academic procession to the Green begins at 9:30 a.m., and visitors are advised to be in their seats by that time. Commencement ceremonies begin at 10 a.m.

2009 Honorary Degree Recipients

US Army General John Abizaid

U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.) John P. Abizaid (Doctor of Laws),
the longest-serving commander of the United States
Central Command (CENTCOM)

 

 

 

Roz Chast, New Yorker cartoonist

Rosalind "Roz" Chast (Doctor of Arts),
cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine

 

 

 

 

Raymond Johnson '59
Raymond B. Johnson, M.D. '59 (Doctor of Science),
commanding officer, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md. (retired),
former senior associate director of clinical research, Pfizer Inc.

 

 

 

Jane Lubchenco
Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. (Doctor of Science),
U.S. under secretary of commerce for oceans and
atmosphere, administrator of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

 

 

Maria Otero
Maria Otero (Doctor of Humane Letters),
president and CEO of investment company
ACCION International

 

 

 

Bill Russell, NBA

Bill Russell (Doctor of Humane Letters),
retired National Basketball Association star,
won 11 NBA championships with the Boston Celtics,
former NBA coach

 

 

Baccalaureate service and professional schools' Class Day and Investiture ceremonies

A variety of ceremonies take place on Saturday, June 13, before Commencement, including Class Day and Investiture ceremonies for Dartmouth's three professional schools, and Baccalaureate, a multifaith service open to all graduates and their guests. Those events and their speakers are:

Thayer School of Engineering
Hopkins Center, Spaulding Auditorium, 10 a.m.
Speaker: James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan

Dartmouth Medical School
Maynard Street parking area, 9 a.m.
Speaker: Donald E. Ingber, the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston, and professor of bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Tuck School of Business
Tuck Circle (rain location is Thompson Arena), 3 p.m.
Speaker: Robert W. Lane, chairman and CEO, Deere & Company

Baccalaureate Service
Rollins Chapel (remote viewing in Dartmouth Hall 105), 3 p.m.
Speaker: The Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and secretary for health care and social services in the Archdiocese of Boston

Last Updated: 6/2/09